Dowd: Blue Eyed Greed?
Blue Eyed Greed?
By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: March 28, 2009
As international lunacy goes, it was hard to beat the pope saying that
condoms spread AIDS.
But Brazils 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 hed 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
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 Americas financial markets to morph into louche
casinos, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, were very, very white men with
As the Who sang: No one knows what its like to be the bad man, to be the
sad man behind blue eyes. No one knows what its 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 hes 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 Cheneys 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 its images of Jesus that dont look Middle
Eastern or Barbies who dont 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.
Lulas 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
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 As and the president promising to
make school cool, brown eyes may finally and rightfully overtake blue
as the windows of winners.