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Comments: Week of April 25, 2011

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1. Gabriel Sherman’s feature on President Obama’s former budget director Peter Orszag’s decision to become a big shot at Citigroup (Revolver,” April 18) was much discussed for its insider’s look at the tensions within the White House. Fox News’ politics blog was most interested in how the story “suggests that there was infighting and drama in the administration,” while the New York Times’ Caucus blog observed that it was “the first time Mr. Orszag has been so forthcoming for the record … Most of the article describes Mr. Orszag’s decision to accept a job at Citigroup. But it also gave Mr. Orszag a chance to push back against criticism that he had blindsided the administration with a September column advocating compromise on the Bush-era tax cuts.” Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com noted that while Orszag doesn’t put his former boss in the best light, “every president has a few gossipy high-ranking advisers who offer a few moments of embarrassment for the administration,” and besides, “if this is as bad as it gets for Obama, he can count himself lucky.” Commenters at nymag.com were less interested than the bloggers in West Wing policy skirmishes. They wanted to vent about how well-trodden the path between government and Wall Street has become: “We currently live in a global oligarchy/plutocracy that is going to collapse from the weight of its own hubris, greed, and corruption,” bemoaned one; “Thanks to Rubin and Clintonomics there is no longer anyone left to oppose these parasitic thieves and the staggering inequality and eviscerated middle class they have created. Perfect storm my ass—this will be a ten-year storm for as long as no one is keeping them in check,” wrote another. In other words, for many worked-up commenters, as went Orszag, so went the economy. As usual, the conspiracy-minded had their say: “And now we know but can’t fathom why no banksters went to jail for the derivatives fraud and the greatest bank heist in history. Obama pulled a quick 180 on those who elected him into office, and Orszag was part of the scam on America. These jokers aren’t Democrats so much as they have joined the oligarchs in their decades of exploiting the American people for their own wallet.” Or maybe, as one put it, there’s a simpler explanation. “Did it really require ten pages to contemplate why civil servants might want to work on Wall Street? To paraphrase James Carville, ‘It’s the money, stupid.’ ”


2. Jessica Pressler’s portrait of flamboyant, fearless financier Lynn Tilton (“What Does It Take for a Female Tycoon to Get Noticed Around Here?,” April 18) titillated business journalists who always wanted to get a better look at her. “Until now, we haven’t really gotten to the mystery underneath the Roberto Cavalli miniskirt and a fur-trimmed cape, or determined her motivations and what makes Tilton tick. Luckily, Lynn … let it all out. Every burning question you’ve wanted answered,” gawked Dealbreaker. John Carney called it “extraordinary” on CNBC.com’s NetNet blog, adding, “On a personal note, the article makes me seriously regret that I never pushed my own relationship with Tilton a bit further. Five or six years ago, I was a lawyer working in acquisition financing. Tilton’s Patriarch Partners was a client. We did a couple of deals … and I spoke with her a few times. But I had no idea the woman on the other end of the phone was anything like this. I certainly would have at least pressed for a personal meeting.” Tilton split nymag.com commenters between those who found her a bit much (“Donald Trump + Madonna - Any Residual Shame = Lynn Tilton”) and those who defended her for being exactly who she wants to be. For the Tilton critics, a lot of it came down to how she refuses to play gender roles while keeping professional respectability in mind. “Unfortunately, she is a woman being judged in an industry because she decides to dress like a cheap hooker,” wrote one. “If I walked into a diner and she asked if I wanted waffles with my eggs, I would feel comfortable with her recommendations. If I walked into Goldman Sachs and wanted to know where to invest, I would ask for another broker.” Others pointed out what they saw as her sexual-­harassment hypocrisy. “If a guy blatantly played on his sexuality with every female employee in a potentially abusive way, he’d deserve to get canned. But she gets to flaunt it? Talk about a ­double standard.” Her fans were equally disgusted with the focus on her outfits. “Jesus Christ, the woman is trying to save some of the manufacturing industry, and all anyone can do is comment on her appearance?” as one put it. “She may seem a little out there, but insanity is necessary if you work that much. More power to Lynn Tilton; hopefully she can ruffle more feathers and expose the disgusting state of affairs we find ourselves in financially.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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