Comments: Week of June 7, 2010

1. John Heilemann’s cover story dissecting the painful public break between the Obama administration and his former friends on Wall Street (“Obama Is From Mars, Wall Street Is From Venus,” May 31) piqued the attention of both the political and the financial spheres. “The whole thing should be read,” urged Mike Konczal on Ezra Klein’s Washington Post blog. “Not only do [financiers] not get it, they on some level will forget that taxpayers and the Federal Reserve needed to step in. And next time they’ll be bolder with the risk taking.” The Economist’s Democracy in America blog rated the entire article “superb” and zeroed in on the political ramifications of the split: “[Bankers] don’t seem to understand that most Americans now hold their industry in such low regard that to be seen as the favoured candidate of Wall Street is probably the single best way to lose a campaign in November 2010. It’s not clear how much Wall Street’s political donations can achieve when financial corporations themselves are politically radioactive.” Last Monday, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman used Heilemann’s article to illustrate the shift of corporate donations to Republican candidates (a development he argued the Obama administration shouldn’t lose sleep over). But a few voices spoke up in defense of the financial sector. “Wall Street behaved like any business: It gave the people what they wanted,” claimed one commenter on “Sure, the Street did stupid things. Lehman buying commercial real estate at the top of the market was dumb. But the Street is getting vilified for giving everybody what they asked for.” The New York Times’ DealBook blog took a dim view of both sides, noting, “Mr. Dimon complains that neither he nor the financial industry has ‘a seat at the table.’ And Mr. Obama now walks into meetings with Wall Streeters with an attitude of ‘whatever.’ Which seems to leave us at this: two of the biggest blocs of power in the country, warring like a pair of high-school cliques.”

2. Jonathan Van Meter’s profile of Joan Rivers (“Joan Rivers Always Knew She Was Funny,” May 31) precipitated an outpouring of love for the sharp-tongued comedienne across the Twitter- and blogosphere. Comedy Central’s Insider blog deemed the article “pretty amazing.” The writer Julie Klausner declared on Tumblr, “If you haven’t yet read the excellent profile, you’re missing out on the first wave of what I’m sure will be the next Betty White Belated Appreciate-a-Thon.” Rivers’s fans also came out on to share their appreciation: “I always knew she was more real than her face! Her work ethic and drive are so inspiring. She is able to get to the heart of a person and expose them in a funny way.” … “I’ve loved Joan since I was an 11-year-old Irish-Catholic girl in Cincinnati. She is a total original in a world of derivatives.” … “I was not going to go [to see A Piece of Work, the Rivers documentary that debuted at Sundance] because I had a strong impression about this horrible character. This article gives such an intimate view into the human being behind the wisecracks. What a life!”

3. Emily Nussbaum’s eulogy for the twenty-year run of Law & Order after it was abruptly canceled (“These Are Their Stories,” May 31) brought many readers to to share their grief. A sampling of comments: “Law & Order marathons have gotten me through some rough times—illness, flights, insomniac nights” … “The endless airings on cable stations would always keep me company when I was on business trips” … “May the Academy see to it that Miss Merkerson gets an Infinite Emmy” … “I feel like I’ve lost my best friend! I watch it at least twice a day. The most preposterous thing about the whole mess is their ridiculous idea of an L.A. spinoff! One of the most important characters in Law & Order is New York City!” … “This was the best epilogue I’ve read. Thanks so much for writing this. And not omitting the ‘ka-chung’!

4. Film critic David Edelstein’s stinging review of Sex and the City 2 (“Heaven and Hell,” May 31) was widely discussed online. In a roundup of the top-ten funniest reviews of the film, The Village Voice blog Runnin’ Scared highlighted it twice, and the L.A. Times’ Big Picture blog quoted it extensively—and declared the “withering” article “one of the nicest reviews that I’ve read so far.” Jessica Grose at Slate’s Double X blog, noting that Edelstein had reviewed the first Sex and the City movie favorably, wondered “if the difference for Edelstein is not the quality of the film, but the context. The culture of excess is truly out of fashion in 2010 in a way that it was not two years ago.” But most of the commenters endorsed Edelstein’s appraisal. “I saw it last night,” wrote one. “There are some very funny lines, but the overall tone of the movie is exactly what Mr. Edelstein writes. The film is less about four women having fun and more about their bitching. Stop whining, Carrie, or go to a shrink.

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Comments: Week of June 7, 2010