Opinions on Timothy Geithner vary, but no matter how much you dislike him, at least give him this: He's never shown up visibly drunk to a press conference. Unlike a certain Japanese finance minister:

On Monday, however, Shoichi Nakagawa, Japan's finance minister and a veteran heavyweight in the long-ruling Liberal Democratic party was forced to deny allegations he had turned up drunk for a press conference at a weekend gathering of Group of Seven counterparts in Rome.

Mr Nakagawa's slurred and sleepy performance at the news conference – which he blamed on taking too much cold medicine – threatens to become a metaphor for the inability of an embattled administration to effectively counter the effects of the global financial crisis on the world's second largest economy.

And that's amidst news that Japan's economy shrunk 3.3 percent last year, its worst performance in 35 years. It's also a metaphor for America's relatively decent position in this global economic cluster*&!@: No matter how bad we think we've got it, someone else has it much, much worse.

--Clay Risen