Jewish World Review March 8, 2004 / 15 Adar, 5764
Al, how do we love thee?
I remember when I was in high school there was this kid who was an absolute heartthrob with the girls. I mean they loved him. No, they adored him. And here's the kicker: The guy wasn't that great-looking!
But no matter, "Bob" was the ultimate ladies' man! They loved being around him. Again, for the life of me, I had no idea why. Like I said, he wasn't particularly stunning or even smart. I found his stories odd, and even the way he walked, odder still. Yet Bob was "the bomb." Me? Let's just say when it came to members of the opposite sex, I just bombed!
Flash to today, and Alan Greenspan (you see, I did have a point). For the life of me again, I have no idea why people worship Al, but they do. Big-time. They hang on every word he says. Al is my modern-day Bob. And I'm just as perplexed with this guy now as I was with that Bob guy then.
Here's why: Al is odd. There, I said it. I don't think he's that wise or his calls on interest rates that prescient. I don't think his observations are especially astute, nor do I find his warnings on the economy particularly clairvoyant.
But like I said, that's just me. And clearly I'm out of touch with the masses, especially the "in" masses. Official Washington loves Al. And Wall Street has practically canonized Al. Never mind he started raising rates too early the last cycle and started easing them too late in this cycle, investors and pros still cycle and recycle his economic musings as if he were the Delphic oracle.
Well, if he's an oracle, then I'm Hercules (and take a good look at my photo, I'm no Hercules!). I don't find anything particularly prescient about saying the government is spending too much (there's a news flash!). I don't glean much from a guy who says Social Security needs fixing (duh!). I don't find anything startling in acknowledging baby boomers are coming of that age where a lot of them are going to suck our system dry.
I've said much the same on any one of these issues, yet no one screams, "Stop the presses! Cavuto's worried about Social Security!" But when Al says it, he creates a national debate! I guess that's a testament to Al and his influence, but I'm hard put to fathom why any of these comments is getting much buzz.
I remember the actor Peter Sellers in the movie "Being There," in which he plays a kind of hapless, scatter-brained boob who people mistake for an insightful genius. He was neither, of course, but the scenes with people tripping over themselves to hear his every word and parse its every meaning had me in stitches.
Al has the same effect. Why people find it so incredible that the chairman of the Federal Reserve would conclude, after the fact, that Americans who opted for adjustable rate mortgages over the last few years have fared better than those who chose fixed rate mortgages, amazes me. Of course they did better! Shorter-term interest rates, on which those adjustables were based, were lower than even already low longer-term rates. Clearly, because rates didn't budge, and the Fed didn't budge them, a wonderful multi-year borrowing opportunity became available for those willing to believe they would stay that way for a while.
Yet Al saying it when all the data is already out there doesn't quite wow me. Now, if he were to say the exact same thing now and go out on a limb and suggest adjustable rate mortgages will beat others in the years ahead, well, Al, you go on with your bad self! Now that's a call!
But do you get my point? This guy has no point!
Maybe I'm just jealous. I was jealous of Bob, too. He got all the girls, and I got all the heartache! Bob was the go-to guy. I was the non-descript guy. Bob had the silly walk. I was just silly. Girls wouldn't take me seriously. Bob would just take the girls.
And now, Al, who's clearly more than just a chick magnet . . . he's an inside the beltway and outside the beltway magnet. Me? I'm just left to marvel that no sooner had I gotten over Bob, a complete idiot, that I had to deal with Al, a complete surprise!
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