Politics, as every schoolboy was once supposed to know, is the art of compromise. That's why that famous strange bed is often so crowded. Voting can be a matter of deciding who's worse, and may the lesser man win.
Almost out of the blue, or at least almost out of the office of Karl Rove, a tough, good-looking district attorney named Jeanine Pirro, who lives only 14 miles from Hillary Clinton's palatial colonial mansion in Chappaqua, decides to contend with Edward Cox, a Wall Street lawyer who is the son-in-law of the late Richard Nixon, for the right to challenge the junior senator from New York for her seat in the U.S. Senate.
Her entry into the Republican primary with Mr. Cox converted what looked like a shoe-in for Mrs. Clinton into a prospective fight against a challenger in stiletto heels with genuine star power. People magazine once put Jeanine Pirro on its list of the "50 Most Beautiful People." She has been a success on the side of the angels, sending child molesters to the cages where they belong. Feminists and pro-family groups love her for her work with abused women, her defense of rape victims and her imaginative programs for sweeping the Internet to catch pedophiles.
She poses a Hobson's choice for some conservative Republicans. On most of the high-profile social issues, she doesn't differ much from the woman she wants to challenge. Both oppose gay marriage but support civil unions. Both support the death penalty; neither wants to eliminate the ban on assault weapons. Hillary Clinton voted for going to war against Iraq. Jeanine Pirro supports the war on terror. Both are adamantly pro-choice.
The real titillation is the baggage they bring along with their husbands. Bill Clinton was impeached for lying under oath, and is most colorfully remembered for his particularly sordid Oval Office affair with an intern half his age. But that was a long time ago, and his wife's friends regard his politics as a plus that more than balances the minus of his morals.