By DAVID GREEN
The New York Times, considered one of the top newspapers in the world, recently published a front page story about the married life of Bill and Hillary Clinton. How much time they spend together and apart. Bill’s dinner companions. Where he kissed his wife during a recent function in Manhattan. Whether or not they spent Valentine’s Day 2005 together.
You know, all the important news you’d expect to find on the front page of the newspaper of record.
More than 50 people were interviewed and allowed to speak anonymously since they figured the Clintons wouldn’t want them discussing their privates lives with a reporter from one of the most important newspapers in the world.
As publisher of one of the less important newspapers in the world, I obviously don’t understand what makes good copy. There was also a recent story about the alleged trouble in the George and Laura Bush marriage, but that appeared on the cover of a so-called “supermarket tabloid.”
Local shoppers know that the Observer is also a tabloid size newspaper sold in a couple of area supermarkets, so I guess I should come clean and offer something about the Green-Leddy marriage. I can’t interview my wife because she’s not home.
We’re suspect right from the start with different last names. I remember Colleen questioning the prospect of the sound of Colleen Green so she decided to stick with Leddy.
That’s not where it ends. Our wedding story never appeared in print. I remember a local business owner questioning me on that matter. I think the entire affair sounded a little too non-traditional for him and he really didn’t think we were married. He probably still doesn’t and I’ll bet he’s secretly fascinated by the Clinton marriage, too.
If the Times were checking out my marriage, the reporter would finally come up with someone who recalls seeing an engagement story in the Observer. That’s right. I remember that clearly because I incorrectly wrote that Colleen was from Bronx, N.Y., instead of the Bronx, N.Y. The little town hick didn’t get that one right, but I quickly learned.
The Times tells us the Clintons are spending about 14 days a month together on the average. Last August was exceptionally good: 24 of 31 days together. That tidbit must be fascinating for all readers—those who think the marriage is a travesty and those who are surprised to learn the couple is actually together that much; those readers who claim to mind their own business and those who know they are busybodies with empty lives and nothing better to do than read statistics about someone else’s marriage.
Perhaps this is only the first of a series of articles in the New York Times and we can soon learn facts of other famous people as the paper moves forward in its effort to blend with People magazine.
I keep straying off course because I can’t seem to say enough good things about the NYT’s article. As the editor of a small weekly, I don’t have the resources to dig up all of my statistics, but—this is going to be shocking—I know there were several nights in the past year in which I was the only person in our bed. Yes, Colleen was gone and I was alone.
Library conferences, trips to Kentucky to pick up a daughter at college. For all I know, she could have been with Bill Clinton. Our worst statistics come from last August when she and the girls took a vacation without me. We probably matched the Clintons at their best that month.
She and I both lead extremely busy lives. I’ll come home from the Observer and she’ll be working late at the library. She’s home early and I leave to take photos of a basketball game. The most Clintonesque times of all are starting soon as the library’s summer reading program gets underway. We will soon be communicating mostly by e-mail and Post-It notes.
A few years ago, Patrick Healy, the author of the NYT’s Clinton article, stated that he chose journalism “for the reward of telling stories about...high-stakes matters of consequence, stories that will have an impact on real people.”
When times are bad, someone recently suggested, it’s less painful to focus on the trivial.