Thursday, September 28, 2006

I don't want to bore you good folks outside New York with a bunch of local news, but this Jeanine Pirro business is some funny shit. Homegirl's had a rough year. Last year she did not seek relection to her post as District Attorney of Westchester County because she was going to run against Hillary Rodham Clinton for the U. S. Senate. Unfortunately, even after she gained the endorsement of Governor Pataki, polls consistently showed Clinton murderizing her, so at the urging of Republican party leaders, Pirro dropped out of the race and is now running for the position of State Attorney General, against Andrew Cuomo, whose last name cuts a lot of ice in this burg. (Her gauntlet in the Senate race was picked up by a lucky fellow named John Spencer. Clinton's going to murderize him.)

At her website, Pirro says that "for the past thirty years, I have devoted my life to law enforcement as a prosecutor, a judge, and the three-term District Attorney of Westchester County." She has also devoted herself, if that's not too strong a word, to marriage to Albert Pirro, a man affectionately known to his friends as "bone anchor." A former real estate attorney--that's "former" as in "disbarred"--Albert has never been the kind of ideal model politician's spouse that you order out of the catalog. Although People magazine once included Jeanine on its list of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the late '90s, it's Albert who's had the embarrassingly public extramarital affairs, including one with a woman who sued him for support of the child he'd fathered, a claim that Albert fought in court for years until a judge finally ordered that it was time to get the DNA swabs into it. For his next trick, Albert managed to get himself convicted on sixty-six counts of tax fraud; the case included the joint tax returns that he and his wife had filed together. (Jeanine managed to stay out of it by sticking to her mantra that she loves her husband but what he does is his own business.) Albert ultimately spent a year and a half in the jug, which must have been restful for his wife's public relations team. He is also widely rumored to be, as the tabloids delicately put it, "mobbed up."

So far, so sordid. But now comes the news that Pirro tried to arrange for the illegal wiretapping of her husband, the better to keep tabs on him in case she had to ask him for home decorating advice or something while he was holed up with one of his girlfriends. As a perfect collision of the personal and the political, this is a doozy, placed right at the intersection of "Watergate!" and "Luuuuuucy!!" Given what's in the papers, it definitely raises issues about how cavalier Pirro's attitude towards privacy may be. But what the talbloids really love about it is that the man to whom Pirro turned to arrange the bugging of her husband was Bernard Kerik, onetime Giuliani sidekick, onetime Interim Minister of Interior of Iraq, briefly nominated as Secretary of Homeland Security, and a man who would be called "the Albatross" by his friends, if he still had any. (The news about the Pirro-Kerik connection came out as part of one of the current federal investigations of Kerik. The man does stay on the radar.) Besieged with calls for her withdrawal from the race, Pirro told reporters about the worst thing she could have told them under the circumstances, basically that she hadn't done anything wrong because Kerik never got around to doing what she'd hired him to do but that if he had it would still be okay because it wouldn't really have been illegal anyway. Not the least enjoyable thing about her big press conference was the sight of a law-and-order Republian candidate for Attorney General attacking the federal law enforcement agents working under a law-and-order Republican administration for waging a "partisan political" campaign to "affect the outcome" of the election.

As of this writing, Pirro is still campaigning, and she might as well keep at it; I don't know who the Republicans could ask to step in for her who'd be able to make the last month of the race count for much. The thing is, before the taping story broke, Pirro had no worse than absolutely no chance whatsoever of beating Cuomo. It's clear from the public reaction that now she's going to do even worse, but how? Maybe the sun will come up the morning after Election Day to find a big crater where her campaign office used to be.

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