I’m obsessed, but don’t really know what to say, about the torture bill passing the Senate. But then I come across this, and fortunately for my sanity, I know exactly what to say. This is the third paragraph, the third paragraph of the New York Times’ front-page story about the self-destructing candidacy of Westchester County attorney Jeanine Pirro for attorney general of the state:
But to many people who have been watching the couple for decades, the Pirros look a lot like an echo of that other Westchester power couple, the Clintons, who are also political and financial partners whose fates and fortunes are profoundly intertwined. The Pirros live in Rye, the Clintons in Chappaqua.
"Look a lot like an echo of" is one of the great weasel phrases of modern journalism, even apart from the simple fact that echoes don’t "look" like anything. Here are the "echoes" between the Pirros and the Clintons:
* Apparently they live in towns that are a mere sixteen miles apart.
What are the odds of that? My family lives about two miles from Karl Rove. Echo? You be the judge. We used to live about a mile from Jennifer Connelly. I like that echo better.
* Hillary Clinton is an attorney. Jeanine Pirro? Also an attorney. What are the odds? Not to mention, both are attractive and dress well.
Why don’t we just stop here? The echoes are blinding me.
* Apparently, Mr. Pirro had some extra-curricular dalliances. Well, more than a few, since at least one resulted in the birth of a child, and another one resulted in his wife hiring Bernie Kerik to bug their yacht, pleading, "“What am I supposed to do, Bernie? Watch him f--k her every night?" Mr. Clinton apparently has also been unfaithful to his wife.
Such activity is highly unusual, of course, and to find it in two families living a mere sixteen miles apart, both of them lawyers, is quite obviously something that "looks a lot like an echo." . Or maybe it sounds a lot like a shadow.
* Mr. Clinton has a secretary named Pirro, and Mr. Pirro has a secretary named Clinton.
Holy cow! Oh, never mind, I was thinking of Lincoln and JFK.
Sadly for the perfection of the analogy, there are some very minor notes that don’t quite fit with "look like an echo." For example:
* According to the Times, "Two decades ago [Ms. Pirro] dropped her bid for lieutenant governor in the face of questions about her husband’s ties to a company in the garbage-hauling business, an activity that was often linked to the mob."
Bill Clinton was an extremely successful two-term president of the United States, and presided over a period of near-full-employment and peace in the world. Mr. Pirro was in the mob-run garbage-hauling business.Maybe if we just say that each was near the top of his chosen profession, then "looks like an echo" would still work.
* "In terms of bad publicity, probably nothing compared to Mr. Pirro’s tax evasion case. In 1998, the Pirros paid close to $1 million in back taxes, but Mr. Pirro was indicted the following year, basically for billing personal expenses to his businesses and taking tax deductions on them.
Among the purchases were a portrait of the Pirro children commissioned by Ms. Pirro, the set for her cable television show when she was a judge, furniture for their vacation home in West Palm Beach, Fla., and drivers and maids (in uniforms) to tend to the children, the wine cellar and the family’s pet pot-bellied pigs.
In June 2000, a jury convicted Mr. Pirro on 34 counts of conspiracy, tax evasion and filing false returns. His brother, Anthony, an accountant, was also convicted. Albert Pirro served 11 months in federal prison."
Okay, well, Bill Clinton never did anything like that. Never even came close. His half-brother Roger got into some trouble, though, just like Pirro’s brother. That sure "looks like an echo."
When I read something like that third paragraph, and consider the fact that it can wind up on the front page of the most thoroughly edited paper in this country, I can’t help but think of Michael Kinsley and David Broder and all the others who this week seem to be losing it about "foul-mouthed bloggers" and people getting their news from "some acned 12-year-old in his parents’ basement recycling rumors from the Internet echo chamber" or from "myleftarmpit.com." I wonder not so much what blogs are they reading, but what newspapers?
The byline on this story, by the way, is Leslie Eaton and Mike McIntire.