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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"In Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search, flashy is out, and boring is in. Now that it appears that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has a fair chance to defeat President Barack Obama — a development that seems to have genuinely surprised many Republicans, perhaps including some of those big names who declined to run themselves — Romney does not need a big-name, attention-grabbing running mate to help him win this race. He just needs someone who won’t cause him headaches. That’s why the 2012 GOP presidential ticket could be a double-dip cone of vanilla. Not French vanilla, just plain vanilla. Hence, we’re holding steady with the top name on our vice presidential watch list, Rob Portman. The Ohio senator and former Bush administration official has a sterling resume that would reassure voters he could take over in the event a President Romney was unable to serve at some point during his term, and his main downside — his Bush connections — are already known and can be handled by Romney’s press team. While any nominee might have skeletons in his or her closet, Portman appears pretty well-vetted at this point. So is the new second name on our list of potential No. 2s: Tim Pawlenty, the former presidential candidate and governor of Minnesota. While Pawlenty’s presidential campaign floundered last year after much initial praise, he has emerged as another safe choice for Romney. His conservative credentials (like Portman’s) are pretty solid, except for his since-renounced support for government action on climate change — not much of an apostasy considering Romney’s policy contortions over the years. One caution, though: A Romney/Pawlenty ticket could be particularly vulnerable on foreign policy, given that both have backgrounds only in state government. Moving down the list, we like South Dakota Sen. John Thune for many of the same reasons we highlight with Portman and Pawlenty. Conservatives who may not know him will be captivated when they learn his biography: He defeated then-Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, long thought a leader of the vice presidential race, is much lower on this list than our first list (we rated him second previously, and now he’s barely in our top tier) ... Another contender whose Veepwatch star seems to be fading is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. We were amused this week by a story noting that Romney was offended by Christie showing up late to a joint fundraising event, a small story that seems to point to a larger fear for Romney, which is that Christie is not a natural No. 2 and would be unreliable and hard to control in the campaign. For all of Christie’s firepower — he’s undeniably a formidable political force — he’s the kind of running mate Romney should consider only if his campaign needed a boost." ( CenterforPolitics)


"When Barack Obama announced that he would name Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, I was one of the skeptics that Susan Glasser mentions in her article. I wrote at the time that I worried the collection of high-voltage personalities in the new administration’s foreign-policy space would crowd out the unique opportunity Obama had to be a leader for a world in transition. Sadly, I do think the president has largely missed that shot for global leadership -- but it’s not, as I feared, because Secretary Clinton has been hogging the limelight. Indeed, it turns out this president is most comfortable out of the limelight altogether, running covert action. His view of the public hand-shaking aspect of foreign affairs turns out to be the same line he scribbled as a first-term senator watching the showboating Joe Biden chair the Foreign Relations Committee: 'Shoot me now.' Which is why Clinton has turned out to be a good stand-in for our shy president: She is willing to go anywhere, meet anyone, travel to the most remote, god-awful conferences, press the global flesh at town-hall meetings and in the local media. Sometimes she looks as beat-up as a UFC fighter who’s been a victim of 'pound and ground,' but she’s all the more lovable for it. As far as I’m concerned, she has significantly strengthened her credentials to be president by working so hard as a journeyman secretary of state. But what has she actually accomplished, beyond logging all those miles so dutifully? Her three high-visibility appointees for what were expected to be the key backroom negotiating positions -- Richard Holbrooke, Dennis Ross, and George Mitchell -- never really had anything to negotiate. They each had high public profiles, much as Clinton did, and each made the White House nervous partly for that reason. But their negotiating moments never really arrived. Indeed, it was only when Clinton selected as her key confidante Jake Sullivan -- a brilliant young analyst but the ultimate 'gray man' -- that she seemed to operate more strategically." (ForeignPolicy)


"The Paris Ritz, the pinnacle of luxurious hotels for the past 114 years, is closing down on July 31 for an unprecedented two-year makeover, its renowned Hemingway Bar having already been shuttered since mid-April ... The decision to undertake this major renovation was probably partly attributable to the fact that last year, when the French Tourism Ministry awarded its highest designation—“Palace”—to only three hotels in the city, the Ritz was not one of them. Another factor may be that such recently refurbished prestigious hotels as Le Royal Monceau and Le Bristol are challenging the Ritz, as are a number of new ones: the Shangri-La, which opened in 2010, the Mandarin Oriental, which opened in 2011, and the Peninsula and the Cheval Blanc, which will open, respectively, in 2013 and 2014. This mounting competition has also induced the celebrated Hôtel de Crillon, on the Place de la Concorde, to announce that it too will close for two years to get a total face-lift. It has been 33 years since the Ritz’s last restoration, and its antiquated air-conditioning, heating, plumbing, and wiring are all in need of replacement. A tunnel will be built to connect the underground parking facility in the Place Vendôme to the hotel, ostensibly to eliminate the noxious paparazzi who congregate at the hotel’s entrance in order to catch arriving celebrities ... I first visited the Ritz 64 years ago, accompanying Ernest Hemingway, who was writing Across the River and into the Trees, a novel that was going to be serialized in Cosmopolitan magazine, for which I was then a young editor. Hemingway and the Ritz were virtually synonymous. In the 20s he and his buddy Scott Fitzgerald had spent many long evenings at the hotel’s celebrated bar, and their behavior there had become legend. As World War II ended in Europe, Hemingway personally liberated the bar as the Nazis were retreating. It was expected that General Leclerc, in command of the Allied troops, would be first on the scene, marching up the Avenue de la Grande Armée with a full panoply of tanks, artillery, flags, and bands. But well before Leclerc could get there, a jeep came careening up the avenue, zipped under the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées, and across the Place de la Concorde, then skidded to a stop in the Place Vendôme at the entrance of the Ritz. Hemingway was in command of that jeep. Ostensibly a war correspondent, but with a gun slung in the crook of his arm, he had taken charge of the motley group in the vehicle, most of them stragglers who had become separated from their units. Hemingway called them his 'Irregulars.' He led them into the Ritz, proclaimed its liberation, took command of the bar, and ordered champagne for everyone ...'When I dream of afterlife in heaven,' Ernest once wrote, 'the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.'" (VanityFair)


"Last night at the Paris Theater, Andrew Saffir’s Cinema Society, along with The Hollywood Reporter, Piaget Watches and Sony Pictures Classics hosted the New York premiere of Woody Allen’s new film To Rome With Love, starring with Roberto Benigni (who is hysterical) Judy Davis, Penelope Cruz, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, as well as the writer/director himself. At (my) last count, Woody Allen has written and directed (and often starred in 43 films). And that’s not counting the additional ones he’s appeared and starred in. Sitting there in the Paris Theater last night watching the crowd fill the seats (it was packed), I was busy anticipating what the writer-director was going to entertain me with, because I know whatever the story, the mood, the setting, and the cast, I’m going to get splashes (and sometimes showers) of wit and along with uncontrollable guffaws. Sometimes, as it was last night, I get carried away and have to silence myself. I’ve been in Allen’s company several times at Alice Mason’s dinner parties, although I’ve never had a conversation with him. He doesn’t seem all that different from the character you see up on the screen: quiet, understated, almost shy – but not quite. I once interviewed him back in the day (mid-'60s) when his star was just on the rise and he was still doing stand-up at the Village Vanguard.You know what he looks like, and in real life he’s as unobtrusively present as he is on stage or on film – except when he’s saying something. But even when he might seem predictable with his storyline, he still surprises with his lines, his bons mots or his kinda crazy way of looking at human haplessness. Of course when it comes to the comic Battle of the Sexes, he’s right up there with the French and British immortals." (NYSocialDiary)



"Howard (Stern) said all of their animals are sick. He said Bianca (above) is 10 1/2 now and she's like their little baby. Howard said the other day she collapsed and she lost all control of her urine. Howard said Beth was crying and called him to help. He didn't know what to do. He said he was in tears himself. He said he thought they were losing her. Howard said all of a sudden she came back. Howard said he was saying this is the problem with loving things. He said Beth told him he had to be strong. He said he can't stand this and told Beth she's in charge of this. Robin asked if he ever lost a pet. Howard said he lost his cat Shera. He said he cried when that happened. He said they were all blubbering when that happened.  Howard said he really loves Bianca. He said the doctor told them to watch her for 24 hours. They canceled plans to stay home and watch her. Howard said they decided to go into town for a few minutes and they were gone 5 minutes. He said the housekeeper called and said the dog fell down the stairs and she lost control of her urine again. Howard said they took the dog to a vet on Staten Island. Howard said he's the best guy out there and he just retired. Howard said they asked him to just treat their dog because they're famous. Howard said he didn't want to do it. He said the guy figured out that her heartbeat is irregular and she's fainting. Howard said he says it's a miracle that she didn't break every bone in her body. Howard said he sat Bianca down and told her she can't die on him now. He said she stares at him like she knows. Howard said he tells her to just pull her shit together. Howard said she's going to make him the laughing stock of the world.  Howard said he sits with his dog for 10 minutes in the morning and tells her he loves her. He said he doesn't know how much longer he has with her." (Marksfriggin)


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