Daily Office: Wednesday


¶ Matins: I wouldn’t have watched last evening’s presidential debate for less than a million dollars. A million dollars, invested in the right Madagascar Triple-A’s, would allow me to hold on to my rent-stabilized apartment for at least eighteen months. Happily, the Times assigned a dozen (!) journalists to the fun job of assessing the truthiness of the candidates’ claims. No need to submit one’s person to all that body English!

¶ Prime: I’ve just seen the instantly infamous “that one” clip, from last night’s debate. Ouch!

¶ Tierce: The press corps in Albany dwindles, with the closing of the Sun, to about forty reporters. That sounds like a lot, though, doesn’t it, to cover a climate notoriously afflicted with political lockjaw. The good old days in Byzantium seem more spontaneous by comparison.  

¶ Sext: Maybe what’s going to save us from the 1929 playbook will be the 1789 playbook! “After bailout, AIG sent executives to the spa.” (Thanks, George.)


§ Matins. It’s nice to know that Mr Obama exaggerates. He claims that 95% of American households would benefit from tax cuts, while the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan organization (is that possible?) puts the number at 81%. Which changes everything….

§ Prime. The Ouch! part is that McCain’s apparently patronizing usage could be construed as a sign of familiar affection. Wildly inappropriate in a presidential debate, and the gentlemen are hardly drinking buddies. And don’t think that I’m trying to defend the Senator from Arizona! It’s a sign of his lack of control and his propensity to slip.

§ Tierce. Reporter Jeremy W Peters wonders,

This journalistic exodus raises questions about whether politicians and special interests in Albany — a place with tremendous power and a history of how that power can corrupt — will be given the scrutiny they merit.

But put the scandals to one side. The press have been utterly unable to assist in the repair of the thoroughly broken New York State government, which, until very recently, was in the hands of three office-holders (the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Majority Leader). If you weren’t one of these, you might just as well not show up. Scandalous conduct at least gave idle representatives something to chew on!

The old model of journalism is just about as broken, not because good stories don’t get reported but because the public isn’t paying attention. Reporters and the officials whom they cover have all but conspired to blanket their doings in Ambien.

§ Sext. Having grown up in it, I’ve often tried to tell people about the bubble in which the higher echelons of American corporate life live, with their families. It’s not so much a class thing as a convenience thing. Life was somewhat humbler when I was a boy, but the idea was the same: if there was a problem, someone “from the company” would take care of it. Believe me, you get used to that! 

Tacky as the AIG junket looks, it’s 100% business as usual. And don’t go thinking that these guys were having a good time! They were just having a well-moisturized bad time.