The Breakfast Table

Money Talks

Dear Nora:

Peter Unger is the philosopher; Peter Singer is the animal-rights guy who wrote the piece in the TimesMagazine based on Unger’s ideas and $200-a-child calculations. And no, I don’t think nanny-state leftism is going to make a big American comeback soon, either, at least not absent a depression. (Although if the Dow market fell to, say, 6,000 tomorrow, we’d suddenly have politics that mattered in this country.) But it does seem telling that the Republicans’ tax-cut talk is getting no real traction among the citizenry now. And I guess what I mean by a revival of liberalism is more the inevitably silly-looking but ultimately more-good-than-bad kind of guilty, upper-middle-class and rich-person liberalism that makes excess impolitic and unstylish, the way it was before 1982, and increases the (individual) American impulse toward philanthropy and generosity. If Arthur Schlesinger is right about his 30-year cycles, it’s time.

Regarding Ron Perelman (and the Ron Perelmans of the world): At what level of consciousness do you suppose he knows or cares that if he weren’t rich he wouldn’t get to sleep with women like Patricia Duff and Ellen Barkin? And, even more coarsely, how tightly do you think the Patricia Duffs and Ellen Barkins of the world have to close their eyes and think of $$$ as they’re being ravished by unattractive billionaires? To use your phrase: just asking. And finally: million-dollar end tables? Million-dollar end tables? Million-dollar end tables? That was the big boggler for me, Duff-and-Perelman-wise.

Yes (speaking of steely blonde women who make Faustian marital bargains in the name of love, or “love”), I look forward to discussing Hillary and her campaign against Rudy Giuliani (King Kong vs. Godzilla?) tomorrow.

Your pal,