Some weeks just roll out like an endless breakfast buffet in the Big Scrapple. Campaign dough nut Hillary Clinton raked in a record $10 million in cash in one week thanks largely to cereal-aisle mogul Ron Burkle but her decaffeinated Iraq withdrawal plan, which many called a gigantic waffle, did not go over easy in Washington. A drug dealer in a jam briefly made instant oatmeal of the Sean Bell case by claiming Bell had peppered him with gunfire last summer; the ReverendAl Sharpton said it was all a shmear campaign. The estranged attorney of subway hero Wesley Autrey (who surely eats his Wheaties) called his lifesaving leap onto the tracks "stupid."
As word leaked out that 50,000 Manhattanites were to be zoned out of the exclusive 10021 Zip Code on the Upper East Side—have that mail forwarded to 10075, Mayor Mike!—the city played by the numbers. The tabloids devoted 24/7 coverage and 72-point headlines to Naomi Campbell's sanitation gig at Pier 36. (Day-two stories zeroed in on her $1,000 Christian Louboutin boots and $1,500 Azzedine Alaïa coat.) The State Legislature passed a bill moving the 2008 presidential primary up to 2/5, a move that should aid both 9/11 hero Rudy Giuliani (whose wife, Judi, revealed that Rudy is her third husband) and seven-year New York resident Hillary Clinton. Clinton was attacked as 1984's Big Brother in a Web ad orchestrated by YouTuber ParkRidge47, who was 86'd from his company, which is doing work for Barack Obama.
As temperatures soared into the surreal realm of the high sixties last week, some wishful thinking seemed in order. Senator Hillary Clinton confidently dusted off her "vast right-wing conspiracy" theory, then proudly previewed a new Iraq strategy based largely on optimistic dreams. State Senator Joseph Bruno believed that the best way to negotiate with Eliot Spitzer was by telling him that Assembly leaders "are so far up your ass it's ridiculous." Al Sharpton assured the press that Barack Obama called him, that he returned the call, and that he expected another call momentarily.
There was a double issue of the magazine on Monday, which means no new issue next Monday, which means no "It Happened This Week." (Funny, from where we sit, it seems like an awful lot happened this week. Apparently not.) Have a good weekend — the forecast high is 50 degrees tomorrow — and we'll catch you Monday.
Was it any coincidence that three days after Martin Scorsese finally took home his Academy Award for Best Director, Wall Street's Raging Bull suddenly stumbled? Probably, but then Scorsesesque plot twists abounded this week. A couple of GoodFellas, sons of made man Joe Colombo, were cleared of federal charges of extortion and racketeering. A judge ruled that an 1851 law limiting the city's damages in the Staten Island Ferry crash was the stupidest nineteenth-century cap he'd seen since Gangs of New York. Hillary Clinton's staff dropped its usual Travis Bickle–ish "You talkin' to me?" stance when asked why she'd five times neglected to mention a family charity on her Senate ethics forms, instead admitting that one of these days she had to get herself organizized. The Color of Money beckoned her fellow Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards to Murray Hill, hat in hand, to tell New York Stories and apologize for his Iraq-war vote.
It was a week of unbridled revelry. Barack Obama was fêted at a DreamWorks gala in Hollywood, but Democratic Party pooper Hillary Clinton’s spokesman demanded that he return his $1.3 million present. War on terror rush chairman Dick Cheney cheered Tony Blair’s withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, calling it “an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well.” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn sent wounded city soldiers recuperating in Texas gift baskets from Zabar’s to remind them of home.
With the arrival (at last) of a light frosting of snow (that quickly turned into a Slushee), New York indulged its sweet tooth. Albany's Three Musketeers — Silver, Bruno, and Spitzer — engaged in a taffy pull over control of the State Legislature, with Bruno accusing the governor of thinking he was Willy Wonka, and treating the legislators like Oompa-Loompas. Silver and his new political sugar-pie, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, received a threatening Candygram containing a suspicious non-confectioner's powder. The Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama presidential campaigns traded Zingers over which candidate wants to get us out of Iraq S'more.
As Valentine's Day approached, an otherwise frigid week steamed with passion. Unlike her waffling-on-'08 sweetie, Judi Giuliani had no problem declaring — her affection for her snuggle bug, that is. "Rudy's a very, very romantic guy," she gushed, as the Postran a massive make-out cover photo of the pair. "We love watching Sleepless in Seattle." The State Assembly played hard-to-get with Governor Eliot Spitzer (a real Mr. Darcy type), whose Match.com-style tactics in choosing his former flame Alan Hevesi's replacement as comptroller were spurned for an arranged marriage with a financial-management virgin from Long Island. Heartbroken Mayor Bloomberg pined for $300 million in city funds lost in the new state budget, sobbing, "Does anyone believe we'll ever get them back?"
The opening of several exhibitions seeking to rehab the legacy of the city's master builder, Robert Moses, kicked off a parade of heavy construction equipment last week. Governor Eliot Spitzer told an Albany adversary, "I'm a fucking steamroller — and I'll roll over you and anybody else!" Senator Hillary Clinton erected a towering lead in New Hampshire polls, just as Joe Biden undermined the foundations of his newly declared presidential candidacy by clumsily complimenting Barack Obama's apparently unusual articulateness and personal hygiene. Former governor George Pataki, whose own Washington aspirations might be compared to building castles in the air, delayed his campaign's ribbon-cutting ceremony yet again.
Senator Hillary Clinton's disclosure that The Wizard of Oz was one of her three favorite movies set the week's tone in the Emerald City. Clinton adopted a quiet, "I'll get you, my pretty" strategy versus the Democrats' newfound Glinda, Barack Obama, while pushing her new Technicolor personality via Web chats. Importing courageous subway hero Wesley Autrey to Washington for the State of the Union address didn't help President George W. Bush's popularity or the reception of his Iraq surge plan. Dick Cheney blew up like a twister on Wolf Blitzer when questioned about his impending granddaughter's links to Friends of Dorothy, while Cheney's former Toto, Scooter Libby, told prosecutors he'd been "sacrificed" to save Bush's man behind the curtain, Karl Rove.
The revelation that mild-mannered Mayor Bloomberg, the Bruce Wayne of Gotham City, keeps a Batphone in his kitchen was a clear Batsignal that we’ve been overrun by superheroes. Wonder Twins Barbara Walters and Rosie O’Donnell stopped squabbling long enough to join forces against Donald Trump, who, with his Magneto-like ability to attract reporters, poked fun at Rosie’s incredible bulk. Nets All-Star Jason Kidd, as bald as Lex Luthor, claimed in a divorce filing that his 105-pound wife Joumana’s superpowers included punching, kicking, and the ability to throw “nearby household objects.” (Her lawyer, Raoul Felder, a.k.a. the Punisher, dismissed such talk as “the realm of fantasy.”) Onetime defender of the weak Jeanine Pirro, whose Spidey sense tingles whenever she suspects hubby Al is playing Dr. Octopus, signed on to host a daytime talk show.
In the days following the synchronized New Year's drops of the Times Square glitter ball and Britney Spears onto the floor of a dance club, everyone seemed to be feeling gravity's pull. Ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential momentum took a swan dive when a copy of his campaign battle plan fell into the wrong hands. (In it, he'd singled out Bernard Kerik and ex-wife Donna Hanover as two things likely to weigh him down.) New governor Eliot Spitzer, possibly fearing an approval-ratings plunge after Jimmy Fallon's inaugural comedy routine tanked, proposed a $6 billion diminution in property taxes and hinted that predecessor George Pataki had sunk New York into a "Rip Van Winkle"-like sleep for "much of the past decade."
Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" was tapped as a finalist for the Grammy for Record of the Year, which certainly seemed appropriate, since, as 2006 ran out, the whole world appeared headed for a rubber room. Presidential front-runner John McCain, sometimes accused of having a few screws loose, told the Yeshiva University Hanukkah Convention that Iran's leaders were "possibly deranged." Tehran rebutted the charge by hosting a convention of Holocaust deniers, including an Israeli-flag-burning Rockland County rabbi and kooky ex-Klansman David Duke. Leisure nut President Bush decided he'd be out of his mind to try to tackle the Iraq problem before the New Year. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national-security adviser, suggested that his country's lunatic army take over the asylum of Baghdad. Mayor Bloomberg painted a Hieronymus Bosch scenario of the city's future including insane all-day rush hours circa 2030 then unveiled some out-there solutions that seemed just crazy enough to work. A British tabloid floated the wacky idea that the U.S. intelligence services were holding secret info on paranoid Princess Di that could cause "exceptionally grave damage to the national security."
As the number of shopping days till Christmas dwindled, the ten magi of the Baker-Hamilton commission told Bush 43 that he had "one last chance" to get Iraq straightened out and suggested that most troops come home within fifteen months. Other surprising figures popped up: The Senate confirmed Defense Secretary-nominee Robert Gates by a vote of 95 to 2 after he said that Saddam Hussein had no 9/11 connection. (The president called Gates the right man to tackle "the emerging threats of the 21st century," leaving some to wonder where he'd been six years ago.) Hillary Clinton seemed ready to commit 110 percent to a 2008 presidential campaign, planning strategic visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and telling one pol, "I'm really going to go for this." Meanwhile, her potential rival, Barack Obama (and many Dems' No. 1 fantasy), gave at a $2,500-a-plate Manhattan charity dinner.
For VII days, all roads seemed to lead to Rome. Emperor George Bush suffered an Et tu? moment when Jordan's King Abdullah II and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki stuck a last-minute dagger in his plans for a triumphant triumvirate dinner. The Baker-Hamilton commission recommended pulling the Army legions out of Iraq; the Pentagon's Cincinnatus, Colin Powell, crossed the rhetorical Rubicon and called the conflict a civil war. (The president declared that the die was cast, and that "we can accept nothing less than victory.") Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked Americans to lend him their ears, so that he could explain how the U.S. is too supportive of Zionists. Homeland Security gladiator Michael Chertoff offered a mea culpa for throwing New York City's anti-terror funding to the lions.
It was a week of high adventure as our Indiana Jones–like ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani formed an exploratory committee for a presidential run. Swashbuckling Establishment guy James Baker, who rescued the 2000 election for George W. Bush, was brave enough to suggest that Iran might help save the U.S. from its quagmire in Iraq. Safariwear aficionado Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replied that he'd prefer to blow Israel into thin air with his nukes-to-be, crowing that "we will soon witness its disappearance and destruction."
A week that commenced with swords drawn concluded with olive branches extended. Republicans who'd run on President Bush's war record received a "thumpin'" in midterm elections, leading Bush to arrange a regime change at the Pentagon. Out was warlord Donald Rumsfeld, spouter of coldblooded koans such as "Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war"; in was serene ex-spook Robert Gates, who now must convince Iraqi insurgents to trade their Kalashnikovs for less-hostile playthings.
In a pre-election week punctuated by acts of contrition, none was sorrier than John Kerry's mea culpa for seeming to instruct a group of college students to do their homework lest they "end up in Iraq." Having single-handedly halted Democratic momentum, Kerry said, "I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted." President Bush, who has lately donned a hair shirt over piddling aspects of his handling of the war, nevertheless vowed never to fire Rumsfeld or Cheney. Congressman Charles Rangel said he was sorry for calling the veep a "son of a bitch," but showed no pangs of conscience for observing that Cheney hadn't "shot anyone in the face lately." Remorseless campaigner Andrew Cuomo showed he had no hard feelings toward ex-rival Mark Green by accepting a $50,000 donation from Green's developer brother, Stephen, before scolding current opponent Jeanine Pirro's "shameful" paying of her driver $148,000 in county-funded overtime.
"We've never been 'Stay the course' … We're constantly changing tactics — constantly changing tactics." Thus spoke previously steadfast President Bush on the eve of midterm elections, and last week it was easy to tell that change was in the air. Republican Senate hopeful John Spencerspeculated that Hillary Clinton had altered her once-unattractive face with "millions of dollars" of plastic surgery; an aide later clarified that position, noting that Clinton was merely "ugly — as a person." Chauffeur-scandal-plagued State Comptroller Alan Hevesi did a U-turn and agreed to a last-minute debate against challenger Chris Callaghan, but not before shoo-in Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer backed away from his formerly unswerving support.