Economy Sputters, Lurches and
A President Is Left Feeling Heat
Economic growth continued at an anemic pace in the past quarter, fueling speculation that President Ted Cruz, the embattled Republican, would be forced to shake up his economic-policy staff.
President Cruz, facing an increasingly dyspeptic electorate, has tried to cast the economic performance under his leadership — with unemployment stubbornly hovering at 5.3 percent and GDP growth at an anemic 3.2 percent — as a “work in progress.” But recent polls indicate that the electorate, at least in crucial must-win 2020 states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts, isn’t buying the spin.
“As I said at the time, what I was trying to do was create a context for sustainable economic growth,” former president Barack Obama recently told a group of journalists from his office at Harvard Law School. “What President Cruz has managed to do is undermine everything I — and my administration — accomplished.”
To be sure, as a matter of pure statistics, the economy under President Cruz is growing at a faster rate, with numerically lower unemployment, than it did under his predecessor, the first African-American president of the United States.
“What’s important to investigate,” the former president told a group of journalists and biographers, “is not the number of unemployed persons per se, or the rate of growth as currently calculated, but instead the underlying assumptions contained within those numbers, some of which are, quite frankly, racial. To be clear, I’m not saying . . .”
Dining and Wine
A New Restaurant Opens, A New Chapter Begins
Former first lady Michelle Obama’s first foray into the dining scene opened last night to crowds and flashbulbs and, yes, lots of kale.
“Le Jardin Sans Richesse,” the collaboration between restaurateur-author Alice Waters and former first lady Michelle Obama, opened to great fanfare in a cozy West Village townhouse, replete with of-the-moment Edison bulbs (to be specific: eco-friendly fluorescent bulbs in the Edison style) and a farm-to-table menu heavy on the vegetables and greens, light on everything else.
“Michelle Obama’s gonna keep me regular,” television personality Whoopi Goldberg cried to the cheering crowd as she made her way into the restaurant and tucked into what the restaurant calls “The Green Colonic,” a salad of bitter winter greens, surgical-grade micro-gravel, and birch bark ($65 for an appetizer portion, $235 as an entrée).
“This has always been my dream,” the former first lady said with a beaming smile. “I wish all Americans would eat this way.”
The restored dining room was festooned with flowers and cards from well-wishers — political friends and foes alike. “Best wishes on your opening!” read a large ecru card attached to a rather ho-hum, very Flowers.com arrangement. In swooping handwriting below the typed message, “Love, Mary Pat Christie.” So it seems that good vibes flowed from Vice President Christie’s wife, Mary Pat, to the former first lady.
“I wish she would eat here,” the former first lady sniffed. “She’s gotten so big since the inauguration. I didn’t think that was even possible.”
By then it was time for dessert — a simple “salad” of brunoised apple cores and grated orange peel ($194) — and the good-luck speeches began.
“You are an inspiration!” cooed the newly svelte young father Alec Baldwin . . .
Science and Technology
From Biden’s Cortex, Activity Detected
The brain of former vice president Joe Biden has shown signs of activity, measured with a new electrograph tool developed, ironically, as a result of federal stimulus funds disbursed eight years ago at the height of the financial crisis.
Originally designed to help local auto-repair shops measure and control smog emissions from older cars, the tool can also measure certain types of brain waves in subjects who otherwise display zero brain activity.
The former vice president’s brain, suspended in a scientific gel since his head “exploded” during the 2016 Democratic National Convention seconds after his party nominated former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — as Yale University president Hillary Rodham was then known — has been continually monitored for signs of activity to no avail. Until last Tuesday, when a lab technician was listening to a Spotify stream of Parliament of Funk’s “Up the Down Stroke” and the needle on the machine began to almost imperceptibly move . . .
The Vows Column
Amid Family and Friends,
Two Men Declare Their Love
New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman and former president Barack Obama were married today in a festive and music-filled ceremony, amid laughter and jokes.
“It was love at first sight,” purred the hirsute columnist.
“At least for him!” added the former president, who went on to explain what many onlookers and, according to polls, 87 percent of all Americans find a baffling and unexpected turn of events.
“When someone loves you that much,” the former president explained, “beyond, let’s be clear, all reason, well, sometimes you’ve just got to let go. Paul thinks I was the greatest president the country ever had, and I guess that’s why I fell in love with him.”
After a Hawaiian honeymoon — “My man is going to teach me how to play golf,” an ebullient Krugman shouted to the crowd — the couple plans to settle in New York City. “We’ve thought about adopting,” the former president mused, “but surrogacy seems like a better bet. Paul isn’t getting any younger, of course . . .”