Starr vs. Clifford

A new line of criticism about Ken Starr emerged from his day-long testimony yesterday: He’s a damn girl! Chatterbox first picked up on this theme when he heard Bruce Morton on CNN refer to Starr’s “prissiness.” In today’s New York Times, R. W. “Johnny” Apple said his speaking style was “prim” and “reedy and singsong,” as compared to that of the late Clark Clifford, whose memorial service was held yesterday at Washington National Cathedral, and whose speaking style was “magniloquent…a deep, hypnotic near-whisper.” (Yes, it turns out “magniloquent” is a real word: “Lofty or ambitious in expression, grandiloquent,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Did somebody dump Viagra into Washington’s water supply? Chatterbox, who is himself a mighty mighty man, who has his mojo working, who never, ever listens to the Indigo Girls tapes that litter his Ford Taurus station wagon (the wife likes ‘em, what are you gonna do), thinks all this macho opining about Ken Starr’s supposed testosterone deficiency is pathetic and absurd. Chatterbox holds no brief for Starr, but did not think the man came across as particularly wimpy or schoolmarmish. (Boring, maybe; see David Plotz’s dispatch from the hearing.) Rather, Chatterbox saw Starr as a sober and decent-seeming fellow who may have lost a bit of perspective during his Clinton investigation. And if Chatterbox had to choose between Ken Starr or Clark Clifford to tend to Chatterbox’s highly complex business affairs, Chatterbox is quite sure he would choose Starr over Clifford, whose manliness (or, to accept Clifford’s self-defense at face value, cluelessness) allowed the Bank of Credit and Commerce International to take over a Washington bank illegally.

–Timothy Noah