Here’s a game we play over the morning paper with our quadruple latte: what two words would you least like to see in a headline next to your name? We can think of lots: swine flu, plane crash, Amy Winehouse. And prison interview. That’d be a downer, especially if you’re an ex-gazillionaire who once had a private jet, a yacht at Cap d’Antibes and a penthouse on the Upper East Side. How’s it feel? Bernie Madoff explained in his debut prison interview with Joe Cotchett, a lawyer with two civil suits against Madoff family members, accountants and feeder funds. Sounds like Bernie’s lonely inside. “He opened up and told us everything about how the scam went down,” Cotchett said. His story is full of fascinating stuff. He expected to get caught. His wife hasn’t been to visit. He “doesn’t give a s**t about his two sons.” And the man who once lived a life of champagne and caviar now subsists on canned tuna and bottled water purchased from the prison vending machine.
Drinking with Obama. Here are two more words we’d like to see in conjunction with our names: beer summit. Sounds so much better than the terms we’re used to, like booze fest, keg party, piss up (we could go on). Obama meets today at the White House for his own much-ballyhooed beer summit with Henry Louis Gates Jr. (the black Harvard professor) and Sgt. James Crowley (the white cop who arrested him). Lots of ink has been spilled on the topic of what they’ll say. Almost as much on the topic of what they’ll drink. Apparently Gates will have Red Stripe, Crowley Blue Moon and Obama Bud Light. American brewers are upset that these beers are all owned by foreign companies. Who cares. At least Blue Moon and Bud Light are made here, which means the breweries are providing jobs. And we have a better question: what kind of pizza will they order?
The hangover. Regardless which beer he drinks, Obama will wake up to our relentless economic headache. He knows it. That’s why he chided Newsweek for its recent cover story proclaiming “the recession is over!” Obama told an audience at a North Carolina town-hall event, “I imagine you might have found that news a little startling. I know I did.” In truth, the outlook is worse than startling, it’s positively revolting. A phalanx of economists are predicting that we’re on our way to recession part 2, which could last, well, forever. Noted British economist J.C. Spender says the (mostly) robust economy of the past 50 years, which was based on middle-class consumer spending, is history. “We’re never going to see the old days again.” Pass the Red Stripe. Or whatever.