Listen to Ames talking about the cocaine-fueled comedy that is CNBC’s Lawrence Kudlow. This segment was aired on Los Angeles’ KPFK radio on April 21, 2008, on the show “Four O’Clock Tuesdays With Gustavo Arellano.”
Why does CNBC host Lawrence Kudlow still have a job? Not only is Kudlow a corrupt goon who has called everything 180 degrees wrong over and over, but he pretty much set the standard for Wall Street’s “most humiliating failure” back in the mid-1990s when he was fired from Bear Stears–the last smart move Bear Stearns ever made. Why was Kudlow fired, you axe? Well, it wasn’t because he called the economy wrong at every turn–hell no! Being wrong is a basic requirement for pundits and Wall Street analysts, you just have to be aggressively wrong and not worry about it, something Kudlow excels at. No, Lawrence Kudlow’s career problems in the 1990s stemmed from the fact that he couldn’t handle his drugs. Cocaine, to be exact.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: what sort of man–a rightwing free-market mensch to boot–can’t handle his coke? I mean, cocaine is a sorority girl’s drug. It lasts like 15 minutes, turns you into a babbling idiot who loves everything–the perfect drug for a pro-Reaganomics stock market cheerleader like Kudlow.
I’ll get back to the cocaine-bitch part of this story, but first, the reason I’m bothering about Lawrence Kudlow is because there’s a clip of him blasting Obama for what Kudlow called the President’s “BOYZ IN THE HOOD handshake” with Hugo Chavez, a clip that went viral all over the blogosphere this week. Just look at Kudlow’s spastic face contortions as he rants: you don’t see that sort of scowling psychosis except on a guy whose just blown through his last eight ball at the end of a six-day binge, his dealer’s cellphone is switched off, and Kudlow’s spent the last four hours picking through the carpet threads in a frantic search for that one last uninhaled granule of llello. That’s what’s written all over Kudlow’s face as he shouts, “Mr Obama didn’t say a darn thing in favor of our ally Colombian president Uribe!…” Colombia–get it? And then, as if crashing hard on live television, Kudlow goes into a bizarre fit over human rights, screeching, “Why didn’t Obama make a clear statement on human rights which Chavez violates daily.”
Er, human rights? Lawrence Kudlow? Ex-squeeze me? I baking powder?! (Or rather, I would “baking powder” but Kudlow already based it all.) This is the same clown who wrote a few years ago in the National Review an impassioned defense of China, and I quote, “Yes, the communist government in Beijing prevents free elections and free speech, continues to persecute religious groups, and has a record of pirating music and software as well as other intellectual property. But according to a recent study by the Council on Foreign Relations, China has also changed 2,600 legal statutes to comply with World Trade Organization rules.”
Wow, 2,600 legal statutes complying with the WTO? Those Tiananmen Square democracy martyrs didn’t die for nuthin’!
My point here isn’t to show what a hypocrite Kudlow is–that’d be too easy, like doing donuts on road kill. No, what I’m trying to bring to your attention, and hopefully to Kudlow’s AA sponsor’s attention, is that Lawrence Kudlow is showing every sign of a man deep in the spiral of a new and violently dangerous relapse. It wouldn’t be the first time-just look back through the New York Times’ archives, and you’ll find some really gripping articles about Kudlow’s tragic, losing battle with the drug they call “the sorority girl’s powdered curse.” Kudlowphiles can learn all kinds of trivia nuggets about their favorite sweaty-pated grouch. Like in 1969, as a university student having to choose between liberal vice (free love, drugs) and patriotic Republican duty (going to war in Vietnam to defend freedom), Lawrence Kudlow did what all the other sly chickenhawk Republicans did: he wormed out of the war, getting an exemption due to alleged “asthma”–which explains why Rush Limbaugh loved him so much. Funny how that asthma never stopped Kudlow from snorting up his retirement money.
As the hippie movement gave way to the Women’s Lib bummer, Kudlow got a haircut, traded in his VW van for the suit and tie world of his industrialist daddy, married a Bloomingdale’s heiress, and embarked on a series of horrifically comic failures and embarrassments that would have crushed an average middle-class person, but not a rich son-of-a-factory-owner like Larry Kudlow. There is no downward mobility for those born into obscene wealth like Kudlow. No matter how badly they fuck up, or how many times. That’s what his story proves: because no matter how badly Kudlow embarrassed himself, fucked up at his job or in his personal life, or blew all his money, he always had an exalted place reserved in the upper class, and a guaranteed job in television and banking. If that is what he calls “free markets,” then no wonder he’s so sold on them. Who wouldn’t be?
And that brings us to the first Times article where we learn of his descent into cocaine melodrama, in an April 3, 1994, article, headlined “A Wall St. Star’s Agonizing Confession”:
Larry Kudlow seemed a master of the universe. Being a top Wall Street economist was not the half of it. Mr. Kudlow had been a prominent member of President Reagan’s economic team. He helped conceive and fight for the tax-cut proposal that helped Christine Todd Whitman become Governor of New Jersey. One of the nation’s most articulate and charismatic commentators on financial issues, he has become the economic guru of Jack Kemp and of the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, as well as a regular on television interview programs and a speaker commanding hefty fees. He even starred in Cadillac ads.
…But last week, in an interview, Larry Kudlow had a confession to make: behind the polished facade lived a troubled and deeply unhappy man who has been battling an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
…”I am willing to share with you my problem,” he said, following the example of many people in programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. “Anyone who blames Bear Stearns is not right. I take full personal responsibility.”
Then this dapper man in a blue pinstripe shirt and monogrammed cufflinks, a man sometimes described as poker-faced, began to cry. Sounding scared, not at all like the suave raconteur and deft name dropper of two hours earlier, Mr. Kudlow said he lived in fear of sliding backward. “I live my life day to day,” he said.
Mr. Kudlow said he was talking largely because he wanted to be honest and because his story might benefit other families with alcohol and drug problems. “I’m on top of this thing, God bless,” he said. “Maybe somebody reading about this somewhere will be helped.”
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