"I see dead people." So Nora Ephron told me earlier this week. And no, she wasn't having a supernatural experience. She was talking about people like Don Imus, Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Isiah Thomas, and John McCain.
Of course, now you don't need a Sixth Sense to tell you that Imus is -- at least as far as his radio show goes -- pushing up the daisies. But then you didn't need a Sixth Sense last Monday either. It was pretty obvious that the Grim Reaper -- in the form of a phone call from Les Moonves -- was soon to cometh for the I-Man.
But there are other dead men walking these days. As Haley Joel Osment said, "They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're dead." Topping the latest dead pool are Paul Wolfowitz and Alberto Gonzales.
With the former, as Richard Cohen points out, there is the supreme irony that the thing that might finally bring down one of the primary architects of the biggest foreign policy disaster in our nation's history is his girlfriend. Getting a country to go to war based on lies and being partially responsible for the needless deaths of tens of thousands of people barely slowed Wolfie down. But using his position at the World Bank to help his girlfriend land a cushy job at the State Department might get him fired. Sort of like Al Capone going to prison for tax evasion.
Gonzales meanwhile has been on political life support for weeks -- but apparently there's still a pulse there. As he heads to Capitol Hill to testify on Tuesday about the U.S. Attorney scandal, we'll find out whether he'll soon be joining Don Imus in the career morgue. I'm personally not holding my breath for the continuation of his political breath -- especially since White House sources say that his intense cramming sessions, in which he's practicing telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, aren't going so well. And if the hearings go badly, the man the president calls "Fredo" will be swimming with the fishes.
Of course, it ain't over until it's over. Sometimes those whose professional lives appear to have flatlined mount miraculous recoveries. Take "Money Honey" Mario Bartiromo. She was assumed to be on death's door for weeks after questions arose about the propriety of her professional relationship with a now-former Citibank bigwig. But she managed to weather the media firestorm.
Who knows, Imus might have done the same if he had navigated the now-requisite Stations of the PR Cross more skillfully. What if he had expressed his contrition at the altar of Oprah instead of on Rev. Al's radio show? What if he had met with the Rutgers players sooner, instead of waiting all week? His biggest mistake, according to Nora, "was that he couldn't just shut up. He should have turned up at the studio Monday morning, apologized, suspended himself, walked out of the studio, and checked into rehab. But he couldn't do it. He couldn't stop talking." What if by Tuesday he was ensconced at "Promises" in Malibu, with a statement pledging to "deal with my demons," etc, etc. But he wasn't, and now he's six feet under.
So who is on your ready-for-the-mortician list? Which dead people are you seeing these days?