Everybody Loves a Good Bad DebateIf you decided to watch the Democratic presidential debate last night instead of American Gladiators, you made the right choice. The brutal (and hilarious) squabbling between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was just as entertaining, if not more, as watching an overmuscled guy in spandex use a pillow stick to beat the living hell out of a civilian. “Senator Obama, it’s hard to have a straight-up debate with you because you never take responsibility for any vote,” snapped Hillary at one point, to boos. Obama, referencing the attacks on him by former president Bill Clinton, shot back, “I can’t tell who I’m running against at times!” Snap! But unlike on Gladiators, there was no clear winner in the debates. Below, a roundup of speculation and analysis on who came out on top and who couldn’t get past the “The Eliminator”:
• Everyone lost a little bit by reducing themselves to familylike squabbling. “Any good psychologist would recognize the three classic defense mechanisms on display,” explains Richard Wolffe. “Denial, repression and suppression.” [Newsweek]
Condoleezza Rice and Martin Scorsese Go Way Back, Didn’t You Know?FINANCE
• Stephen Schwarzman, Lloyd Blankfein, and David Rubenstein got down with Bush, Condi, and friends (including Martin Scorsese?!) at this year’s Kennedy Center Honors. [NYP]
• Barron Hilton decided to donate almost his entire $2.3 billion fortune to the family foundation, including the proceeds from the recent sale of Hilton Hotels and Harrah’s casinos. Does this mean we’ll have to stop calling Paris an heiress? [NYT]
• If private equity is the smart money on Wall Street, then why have Blackstone’s shareholders lost so big? The Times gives the easy answer: “What Wall Street is about is smart guys thinking about ways to make money from dumb ones.” Good work, Steve Schwarzman! [NYT]
early and often
Chelsea Clinton Stonewalls 9-Year-Old ReporterWe couldn’t help but notice the following moment in a scantly picked-up AP story last night:
Sydney Rieckhoff, a Cedar Rapids fourth grader and “kid reporter” for Scholastic News, has posed questions to seven Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls as they’ve campaigned across Iowa this year. But when she approached the 27-year-old Chelsea after a campaign event Sunday, she got a different response.
“Do you think your dad would be a good ‘first man’ in the White House?” Sydney asked, but Chelsea brushed her question aside.
“I’m sorry, I don’t talk to the press and that applies to you, unfortunately. Even though I think you’re cute,” Chelsea told the pint-sized journalist.
It sounds like Hillary’s campaign is taking its maniacal obsession with press control a wee bit too far. Come on, Chelsea, throw the little girl a bone. Don’t you remember when you were a cripplingly awkward preadolescent who was just trying to be taken seriously? Because we remember it. We remember it all too well.
Chelsea Clinton Guards Her Words [AP]
Celebrities Hot for One Brooklyn Bridge ParkWhat is it with One Brooklyn Bridge Park? A tipster says three celebrities are checking out the luxe 449-unit condo project, whose former incarnation was headquarters for the decidedly un-luxe Watchtower, a magazine published by the Jehovah’s Witness. Model Bridget Hall was recently spotted at the building, presumably for a tour, as has another catwalker, now turned reality-TV-and-talk-show host Tyra Banks. Hilary Swank is said to be interested in the property, too, and is apparently expected for a look-see soon. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, the building’s transformation has piqued such interest that its waiting list of potential buyers was 3000 strong earlier this year. Real-estate doyenne Elizabeth Stribling bought two units there, and now her posh brokerage firm, Stribling & Associates, helps market the project. —S. Jhoanna Robledo
We’re Back!Welcome back to us, that is. Like many of you, we spent most of the last ten days or so in the isolation tank that is our homes, eating butter and sugar by the fistful, drinking, and willfully ignoring the outside world; the only newspaper headline that passed in front of our bleary eyes was one that said, “War Hero Harry Bailey Returns to Bedford Falls.” We were happy, and all was right with the world. That is, until this morning, when we were cruelly deposited back into the cold, cookie-less world we lived in before, blinking, five pounds fatter, and approximately ten times stupider. We thought some of you might be in the same position, so we’ve quickly pulled together a list of what we think might have happened last week while we were napping.
•Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup all got foreign money in their Christmas stockings.
•Serena and Dan started dating in real life, sending our Gossip Girl Reality Index numbers flying off the charts.
•Benazir Bhutto was killed.
early and often
Bloomberg: Primary? What Primary?Just in time for the Iowa caucus, Mayor Bloomberg has firmly planted himself in the headlines again as a possible presidential candidate. After a Washington Post report about his attendance at a gathering of bipartisan political leaders yesterday, the New York daily papers have competing stories about how this indicates his continued interest in a White House run. The University of Oklahoma conference will be hosted by “well-connected Democrats and Republicans who could help launch him as an independent presidential candidate,” reports the New York Post, and will give Bloomberg “a potential launching pad for a presidential bid,” according to the News. Which sounds like speculation, basically, except the Times assures us that “Bloomberg is growing increasingly enchanted with the idea of an independent presidential bid, and his aides are aggressively laying the groundwork for him to run.” Wow. We assumed he was at least titillated with the idea. But enchanted? This must be serious.
it happened this week
As thousands of European budget travelers swarmed the rainy city and prepared to gaze at the big crystal ball in Times Square, many New Yorkers had already moved on to 2008. Bill Clinton worried about Mayor Bloomberg’s buying his way into the presidential race: “He could spend $1 billion and hardly miss it,” said the former president.
in other news
We’re Never There for You When You Need UsWell, thank God that’s over. You okay? Honestly, the holidays always leave us a little shaken. The forced smiles, poorly spiked eggnog, and unmitigated hell of an hour-long cab line waiting for us upon our return — there’s just been so much silent sobbing these past few days. And now our eyes are all red and puffy, so we’re going to take the rest of this week to recover. Come Monday, we’ll be back for the typically grand New Year’s Eve action.
in other news
Benazir Bhutto AssassinatedAs you’ve most likely heard by now, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today at a rally in Rawalpindi. As the opposition leader, she was a leading contender to be reelected prime minister during the early January elections.
There’s a lot to be said about this tragic turn of events, but we’ll instead direct you to New York’s own interview with Bhutto, published in late September, in which she has some advice for Hillary Clinton.
PETA Shakes Up Anna WintourThe folks at PETA are really outdoing themselves this year. First, there were the Hairy Kate and Trashley dolls. Now, they’ve reverted to their old standby, Anna Wintour, whom they’ve stuck in a snow globe this holiday season — you know, so you can “shake some sense into her.” Inside the virtual globe, fearsome opera plays as Anna drifts through a fiery netherworld inhabited by workers in Karl Lagerfeld glasses whose job, it seems, is to skin shrieking animals and toss their carcasses into a massive pile for “pelt pusher” Anna’s future coats. It’s creepy, of course, but it’s still kind of fun to shake the globe and watch “Anna” bounce around in the snow. Until you realize that, whenever she falls, her neck bends at a disturbing angle.
PETA’s Holiday Snow Globe [PETA]
white men with money
Did Cayne Miss Yesterday’s Conference Call Because He Got High?So, yesterday Bear Stearns CEO Jimmy Cayne announced the investment-banking firm’s first quarterly loss in its history, on the tail of announcing a $9.1 billion write-down. He was apologetic, sort of: He said the results were unacceptable and declared that neither he nor his management team would be taking bonuses this year. Then he then proceeded to entirely skip the conference call with investors. “You’d think the circumstances might have merited a show of contrition,” noted The Wall Street Journal today. Yeah. Especially since, the other day, Charlie Gasparino reported “sources” were saying the Bear Stearns board has been talking about a successor for him. We can’t, er, bear this idea: We’ve grown fond of the Jimster, he’s like our pot-smoking, bridge-playing, possibly pervy uncle. Which is why we have to assume that Cayne skipped the conference call not because he didn’t feel bad, but because he couldn’t deal with all that bad energy.
Bad News for Bear Stearns [WSJ]