Early in my ramble as a political reporter, I would come back to the office after a trip to, say, a Presidential debate, or a convention, or a campaign event with candidate so-and-so. Steve Reiss, my sagacious editor at the Washington Post’s Style section, would always begin his debriefing with the same question: “What was it like?” It struck me as a strange construction. He would not say, “How was your trip?” or “What’d you get?” or – in the case of an encounter with a profile subject – “What was he/she like?” He always said, “What was it like,” and after a while I took the “it” to incorporate the whole unnatural experience that these subjects endure on their daily high wires. In halting responses, I would share with Steve little stories and impressions and off-color details about my expeditions: how, say, John Edwards walked like a duck, or that Dick Cheney had no idea who John Travolta was, or that Nancy Pelosi had never heard of curly fries.

Well, that last sentence might have made the opening paragraph of Mark Leibovich’s Citizens of the Green Room: Profiles In Courage and Self-Delusion (BOOK | KINDLE), the best opening paragraph ever.

Also, shouldn’t a candidate for election be required to notify the voters if they don’t know what curly fries are? If you were running against Nancy Pelosi, wouldn’t you make a campaign ad that focuses solely on that important fact? If I were running against Nancy Pelosi, I’d make a commercial where I just ate curly fries for 29 seconds and then said, “I’m Anthony Bergen; curly fries are the bomb, and I approve this message.