Press Box

Rep. Peter T. King’s Echolalia

In the old days, legislators delivered long-winded, convoluted, extemporaneous speeches from the floor. Today’s congressman composes tightly worded sound bites and reads them from a cue card when reporters call.

Emotionally volatile John McCain supporter Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) demonstrated his cue-card skills today by giving near-identical quotations to reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. The subject was George W. Bush’s half-hearted attempt to make peace with the McCain forces, and rather than speaking his mind, King spoke like a stuck record:

“It’s mind-boggling,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), a McCain supporter. “Either he’s being arrogant or he’s politically tone-deaf.”–Washington Post, March 17, 2000Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican who supported Mr. McCain, was also critical of Mr. Bush today, saying, “Either he’s arrogant or he’s politically tone-deaf.”–New York Times, March 17, 2000”I’m extremely disappointed,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), a McCain backer. “Either [Bush] is extremely arrogant or he’s politically tone-deaf.”–Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2000

You might think that King was insulting the reporters by unspooling the same line over and over, but no. This is Washington. King was showing his confidence in his talking points. He stayed on message. He remained consistent. He didn’t let one paper scoop the other with a saucier quotation.

It’s a good bet that the bookers of the political talk shows observed King’s performance and invited him for repeat performances this weekend.