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Dowd: Blue Eyed Greed?

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/opinion/29dowd.html Blue Eyed Greed? By MAUREEN DOWD Published: March 28, 2009 WASHINGTON As international lunacy goes, it
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 16, 2009

      Blue Eyed Greed?

      Published: March 28, 2009


      As international lunacy goes, it was hard to beat the pope saying that
      condoms spread AIDS.

      But Brazil’s president, known simply as Lula, gave it his best shot.

      At a press conference Thursday in Brasilia with Prime Minister Gordon Brown
      of Britain — who has a talent for getting himself into dicey spots — Lula
      started off coughing from some cheese bread he’d wolfed down. Then he
      suddenly turned accusatory.

      “This crisis was caused by the irrational behavior of white people with
      blue eyes, who before the crisis appeared to know everything and now
      demonstrate that they know nothing,” charged the brown-eyed, bearded
      socialist president.

      As the brown-eyed Brown grew a whiter shade of pale, Lula hammered the
      obvious point that the poor of the world were suffering in the global crash
      because of the misdeeds of the rich.

      “I do not know any black or indigenous bankers,” said Lula.

      He also told CNN he would press this theme at the G-20 meeting in London
      this week. He says his past as a poor, hungry, unemployed lathe operator
      gives him special insight.

      “I lived in houses that were flooded by water,” he said, adding,
      “Sometimes, I had to fight over space with rats and cockroaches, and waste
      would come in when it flooded.”

      The “Lula lulu” by the “Brazil nut,” as The New York Post dubbed it, became
      big news just as President Obama met at the White House with Vikram Pandit
      and a cadre of white-bread bankers who have taken the bailout — some of
      whom, like Jamie Dimon, have distinctly blue eyes.

      And it is true, of course, that the upper-crust, underwhelming Anglo-Saxon
      leaders who allowed America’s financial markets to morph into louche
      casinos, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, were very, very white men with
      blue eyes.

      As the Who sang: “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the
      sad man behind blue eyes. No one knows what it’s like to be hated, to be
      fated to telling only lies.”

      Every time Cheney looks into the camera with those ice-blue eyes and says
      President Obama is making us less safe, it sounds as if he’s secretly
      hoping we do get attacked just to prove his point that Obama is weak, even
      if he has to go up in smoke, too.

      (When I double-checked the color of Cheney’s eyes, his daughter Liz Cheney
      jokingly e-mailed back, “Sorry, but that information is classified.”)

      Before President Obama, whose brown eyes are opaque when you look into
      them, presidents have been more known for blue eyes. The ones with brown
      eyes, Richard Nixon and L.B.J., came a cropper.

      Throughout history, whether it’s images of Jesus that don’t look Middle
      Eastern or Barbies who don’t look ethnic, blue eyes and white skin have
      often been painted as the ideal.

      The cerulean-eyed Paul Newman once wryly predicted his epitaph: “Here lies
      Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown.”

      Surveys show that people with blue eyes are considered more intelligent,
      attractive and sociable.

      A 2007 University of Louisville study concluded that people with blue eyes
      were better planners and strategic thinkers — superior at things like golf,
      cross-country running and preparing for exams — while people with brown
      eyes had better reflexes, making them good at hockey and football.

      Lula’s rant underscored an ancient rivalry.

      When I was little, growing up in a house that prominently displayed a
      blue-eyed Jesus and a blue-eyed J.F.K., I felt my brown eyes were far less
      attractive than my brothers’ blue ones.

      I obsessed on it so much, cutting out a picture of a beautiful brown-eyed
      model and keeping it in my scrapbook, that my mother finally reassured me:

      “You look at blue eyes. You look into brown eyes.”

      Later, of course, there would be the thrill of Van Morrison serenading a
      “Brown-Eyed Girl.”

      Before Barack Obama, when I interviewed the brown-eyed sons of immigrants
      who were thinking of running for president, Mario Cuomo and Colin Powell,
      they seemed torn about taking the big plunge, given how far they had come
      in relation to their dads.

      I asked Governor Cuomo if he was leaving the field to “the privileged
      blue-eyed WASPs” like Bush senior and Dan Quayle who felt entitled and
      never worried about their worthiness.

      Barack Obama and his family have already had a profound effect on the
      culture in terms of what is beautiful and marketable. Black faces are
      popping up in all kinds of ads now — wearing straw boaters and other
      prepster outfits in Ralph Lauren ads.

      With Michelle urging students to aim for A’s and the president promising to
      make school “cool,” brown eyes may finally — and rightfully — overtake blue
      as the windows of winners.
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