mark-leibovich

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.
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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.