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Monday, May 07, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Everyone knows that China is on the rise, that the United States is in decline, and that the two countries depend upon each other more than ever to solve global problems. As it has since the onset of the global financial crisis, this received wisdom in part shapes the U.S.-China relationship, including at bilateral forums such as this week's Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). But what if this 'wisdom' is wrong? The S&ED, though overshadowed by the drama over the fate of activist Chen Guangcheng, addressed other critical issues such as North Korea, Syria, and bilateral economic tensions. But even without the Chen case, Washington and Beijing are approaching each other with more apprehension than usual these days due to each country's ongoing concerns about the other's strategic intentions. For the United States, the growing fear is that it will be 'eclipsed' -- that one day China will dominate Asia. For China, the perpetual fear is America's overreaction to its rise. Chinese leaders, with some justification, view the Obama administration's 'pivot' to Asia as a move to contain China's growing power and keep it down. But the United States and China are worrying about the wrong things." (ForeignPolicy)


"In a series of interviews with campaign officials in Chicago, it is clear that the entire re-elect operation likes its odds of winning a second term. The informal slogan is essentially, 'be confident, but take nothing for granted.' Presidential senior adviser David Plouffe, the 2008 campaign manager now overseeing the enterprise from his perch steps away from the Oval Office, Jim Messina, Plouffe’s 2012 titular successor in Chicago, and their deputies in both cities, believe that, despite the dangers of high unemployment and gas prices, Mitt Romney faces four major barriers to winning the big prize. First, in the view of the Obamans, Romney is still a weak candidate. His stump skills continue to be uneven at best, with speeches plagued by awkward jargon and passionless rhetoric. They believe his tenure as head of Bain Capital and his term as governor of Massachusetts conceal vulnerabilities yet to be unveiled.  'No one’s ever looked at Romney’s record, and there’s a lot there,' said one senior campaign official. 'He developed this set of values at Bain about what the economy is all about… Whatever it took to make money… He took that same philosophy to Massachusetts' as governor. Obama’s team is sitting on a multimedia treasure trove of research about both phases of Romney’s career and expect to launch powerful missiles at key moments throughout the campaign, discombobulating the Republican each time. Second, they maintain, their research suggests Romney has exactly one rhetorical path to victory, as a can-do businessman able to fix what’s broken. Chicago intends to focus as much of its formidable firepower as necessary to dismantle Romney on that front, and prevent the election from becoming a referendum on the President’s economic tenure." (Mark Halperin)


"(Cornell West) had already been lobbing rhetorical grenades in the direction of the Oval Office, calling the president 'spineless' for his failure to make poor and working people a policy priority and 'milquetoast' for kowtowing to corporate interests during the economic crisis. But in an interview with Truthdig, ­published last May, West went nuclear. He called Obama 'the black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.' And then he said he wanted to 'slap him,' as the article put it, 'on the side of his head.'  In the white world of mainstream media, the interview made a few headlines. But in precincts of the left, and among certain African-American scholars, it unleashed a tide of anguish. West has been an intellectual celebrity for three decades, protected and cherished by his like-minded comrades, but the nasty tone of his Truthdig comments caused many of his closest colleagues to question their devotion, to suspect his motives, and to wonder whether West’s prominence had finally exceeded his merit. Their concerns were in part pragmatic: As the 2012 election approached, some thought West might make his case better if he weren’t quite so mean ... The first time I traveled to Princeton University to meet with West, I heard him before I saw him; his familiar, gravelly, elongated vowels—'Definite-leeee'—reached me as I waited by his office door. Once inside, I offered the argument I’d heard: that his assault on the president hurts poor and working people more than it helps them. By seeding the left with dissatisfaction, West risks suppressing that vote and jeopardizing the outcome of November’s election. Whatever his failings, this reasoning goes, Obama is bound to represent poor people better than Mitt Romney would. West considered the objection for the smallest fraction of a second before casting it, witheringly, aside. What, he asked me, leaning across his desk and jabbing his long fingers downward, if the Jews had asked Amos to tone it down a notch? 'Well, Amos,’  West imagines the residents of the Kingdom of Judah, circa 750 B.C., saying in a sort of whiny white-­person voice, 'Don’t talk about justice within the Jewish context, because that’s going to make Jewish people look bad.’ 'Amos [would] say, ‘What?’' West thundered. 'Kiss my Jewish behind. My calling is to say, let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.' He leaned back, satisfied." (NYMag)


"Anderson Cooper hosted a book party for Bravo executive and 'Watch What Happens Live' host Andy Cohen, at Cooper’s famously rehabbed firehouse home in Greenwich Village, Saturday night. Guests at the bash for Cohen’s 'Most Talkative: Stories From the Front Lines of Pop Culture,' included Jimmy Fallon, Kelly Ripa, Gayle King and Harry Smith, spies said. Sarah Jessica Parker arrived solo while her husband Matthew Broderick performed in 'Nice Work If You Can Get It' on Broadway. '[Guest] Wendy Williams was loving the photo booth,' a spy said of one of the prime party attractions. Also at the bash were Barry Diller, Liam Neeson, Rashida Jones, Isla Fisher, '3rd Rock From the Sun' comedienne Kristen Johnston, 'White Collar' star Matt Bomer and CAA’s Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane." (PageSix)


"However, things being what they are, I have now been to two weddings in less than a year – some kind of record – and, aside from bah-humbug me, I can honestly say I had a very good time at both. The first was the aforementioned wedding of JH and Danielle Rossi and the second was Saturday when Allegra Ford married Josh Thomas followed by a reception at 583 Park Avenue. In both cases, my 'enjoying' these weddings had something to do with the fact that these are all people I love, and seeing their fun and joy and pleasure is sweet. I know Allegra, as her mother Anne Ford, and her aunt Charlotte Ford, are personal friends. The Fords are an old fashioned family in certain ways that are contemporary yet endearing. And exemplary. The parents I know of my generation of this family have ongoing, involved relationships with their children. This is also true of the sisters’ brother Edsel and his wife Cynthia who are devoted to their sons – and you can see it is reciprocal. You can see when you’re in their company how warmly they relate to each other. Allegra has an older brother, Al Uzielli (both are the children of the late Gianni Uzielli). Al walked his sister down the aisle at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue and 66th Street. Coincidentally there was some kind of block long Cinco de Mayo street fair going on in front of the church, so you could say everyone was celebrating the day (and probably driving a lot of the neighbors nuts because of the traffic jams)." (NYSocialDiary)


"Early last year, GOP leaders in Washington warned (Senator Dick) Lugar’s team of the potential for danger and the need to run a ruthless primary. Look no further, they said, than the complacent campaigns of former Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska: Both lost to tea party-backed opponents, though Murkowski managed to keep her seat in the fall after winning a historic write-in campaign. For Republicans, the 2010 model of how to smother a primary opponent was Arizona Sen. John McCain, who ran a scorched-earth campaign that eviscerated former Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s credibility early, often and with tenacious relish. Lugar didn’t heed the advice.It’s not that he didn’t hit Mourdock hard — his campaign launched a $2.4 million wave of mostly negative advertising this spring that some now believe has tarnished his image as a statesman — it’s that he waited far too long. 'You need to be prepared to decapitate someone as soon as possible.Follow the John McCain model, not the Bob Bennett model,' said the Senate race strategist. But part of the problem is that Lugar is the antithesis of a bare-knuckled political brawler; it’s just not in his political DNA. He is a policy wonk, not a political tactician." (Politico)

"It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Early in the 2012 election cycle, no one gave the Democrats a chance, given that they were defending 23 seats, the Republicans only 10. But the Democrats have recruited strong candidates, and been handed gifts such as Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R) retirement in Maine. It has left Democrats and Republicans alike wondering if the GOP is again going to snatch defeat from the yawning jaws of victory. Republicans still have formidable advantages. Third-party groups, unfettered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, are on track to spend millions of dollars more to help Republican candidates than liberal groups will spend to help Democrats.And while Republicans are worried about losing two or three seats they now hold, Democrats are scrambling to hold onto at least seven seats. Republicans need to win four seats to gain a majority if President Obama wins reelection, and only three seats if Mitt Romney wins, since his vice president would cast the tie-breaking vote. Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at The Cook Political Report who specializes in Senate races, says a razor-tight battle can be expected. 'I don’t think either party has an edge. I view it as a complete jump ball,' she said. Republicans consider Nebraska, North Dakota, Missouri and Montana as their four most likely pick-up opportunities. Nebraska and North Dakota are safely in Romney’s column and both states will turn out crowds of anti-Obama voters. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) trails three Republican candidates by double digits and the GOP believes he will have a tough time convincing Nebraskans that he still shares their values after spending the last decade in New York. But in the other three races, Democrats have some reason for hope." (Alexander Bolton/TheHill)

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