That, and other news, in today’s Roundup and Recap.
Stephen Colbert brandished a pitchfork on “The Colbert Report” last night, in the latest expression of so-funny-its-serious outrage aimed at Wall Street and the bonuses given to AIG. The White House is obviously worried that this resentment will spill over to their own economic agenda, and President Obama’s efforts to assure angered Americans that the administration would try to get the money back is met with stories that AIG’s bonus contracts have been no secret. (Given that bonuses are routine parts of Wall Street compensation packages, it struck me as one of those Captain Renault “I’m shocked” moments.)
Oddly enough, the man who so stirred up populist outrage a month ago — directed at those spendthirft mortgage holders who stood to gain from the president’s mortgage bailout plan — seemed to dismiss the AIG bonuses as “much ado about nothing.” Rick Santelli downplayed the outrage, pointing out that it was a matter of mere millions rather than billions.
So far, we haven’t seen the masses in the streets. Much of the “outrage” that has been expressed seems to depend on the political winds. Some of the most effective and biting recent expressions of anger have come from late-night talk show hosts, but their audiences have not left the tapings of their shows marching toward AIG headquarters. (That may be a testament to the hosts’ abilities to know when enough’s enough — in their own way.)
The anger is there, no doubt, and Obama will have to deploy his considerable communications skills come up with a novel balancing act to make sure the dark humor doesn’t solidify into histronics. That’s why Obama’s decision to go on late-night TV on Thursday doesn’t look so unusual after all.
Contrary View: Richard Cohen of the Washington Post isn’t so crazy about Jon Stewart’s take-down of Jim Cramer.
He writes, “It does not take cable TV to make a bubble. CNBC played no role in the Tulip Bubble that peaked, as I recall, in 1637, or in the Great Depression of 1929-41. It is the zeitgeist that does this — the psychological version of inertia: the belief that what’s happening will continue to happen.
“Stewart, too, rides the zeitgeist. The hunt is on for culprits and scapegoats, and Stewart has served up a cliche: the media. As with the war in Iraq, for which credulous media should take some responsibility, the sins are blown out of proportion. It would be one thing if Wall Street titans by the score were selling their company stock and the media were failing to report it, but when someone puts his money where his mouth is, you have to pay attention. The big shots believed.”
FDR Moment: Obama is planning to channel Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats. John Dickerson writes in Slate, “Press secretary Robert Gibbs has told the television networks that the administration may request more time than usual for a president. Gibbs did not provide a schedule but described the addresses as lasting about 10 minutes each.”
More from Saturday Night: Karen Ocamb writes on Bilerico Project about Julian Bond’s remarks at HRC (below), noting that he has used this line before but it proved no less effective: “When I’m asked are gay rights civil rights, my answer is always – of course they are.” She also writes of speakers John Duran and Diane Feinstein, noting of the latter that she was greeted with a very warm reception, even from “old timers who remembered a more conservative senator with whom they disagreed.”
“Bruno” Bite: Details of Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming movie “Bruno” are leaking out, and one segment’s a doozy. His character hits on Ron Paul.
Congo Campaign: Ben Affleck, Rosario Dawson, Kerry Washington, Robin Wright Penn, Emile Hirsch, Maria Bello, and Joel Madden and Nicole Richie attended a gathering last week at Penn’s home to talk about the EcoMom Alliance’s new project on the Congo. The guest speaker was the Enough Project’s John Prendergast.
Air Supply: Montel Williams (left) is joining Air America, for a talk show that debuts on April 6. He appeared with other entertainment figures and Air America execs at a cocktail party at the Radio & Records Talk Radio seminar in Marina del Rey over the weekend (right).
Kilmer Meet: Spotted in the D.C. area again: Val Kilmer, who is thinking of running for governor of New Mexico.
Photo: Elisa Haber