Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Critical Mom and Paula Broadwell

A Broad with Brains.  Is what they're saying.  I'm not the first blogger to let Fatal Attraction float to mind, but Paula Broadwell does seem to have hero-worshipped David Petraeus and charged after him to tell him she was turning her dissertation about him into a book. 
"Go for it," he amiably--cluelessly?--advised.  Opportunity only knocks once.  He could turn water into bottled water!  A month after breaking his pelvis he was back in the swim!  She was embedded with him.  All in!  Doesn't that innuendo just send a chill down everyone's spine?  Then the two of them running together, doing push-ups together, trading sweaty towels together, swatting each other's bottoms with sweaty towels and then one thing led to another.  And she'd worked so hard to get him, done her damndest to seem spontaneous, and now she had him.
Various newspapers have charts, complete with arrows and pictures, guiding you through who said or did what to whom.  But the cast of characters is as old as the hills:  The hell-hath-no-fury scorned wife.  Gang way, Maenads.  When Holly Petraeus gets done with her husband, the vultures won't find any meat on his bones.  Paula Broadwell, a fount of talent, ambition, and despair.  A woman who's graduated seventh grade should know better then to think she can force a man to pay attention to her, love her, by any means--least of all sending HANDS OFF THE MERCHANDISE e-mails to Jill Kelley, whom she thinks she saw playing footsie with Petraeus.  Hasn't Paula Broadwell read The Rules?  Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, come in please!  Send this woman a Saint Bernard with a message in a bottle around his neck:  "If he doesn't call, he's just not that into you.  NEXT!"  And if he's not that into you, find somebody more interesting for your next biography.  I can't believe how stupid smart women are!  
And I can't believe that America can't mind its own business.  The disclosure-of-classified- information-excuse is a red herring.  "National security" is just another word for Puritanism--the idea that we all have to be in each other's business all the time to make sure people will pay for enjoying sex.  Don't forget that mass hysteria was the Puritans' favorite indoor sport, starting with the Salem Witch trials.  Or that this hysteria tends to return, cyclically:  McCarthyism, Anti-Japanese furor during the Second World War, Anti-Arab discrimination ever since 9/11--no, we're still knee-deep in the world Hawthorne documented, adding the "w" to his own name to distinguish himself from his Puritan ancestor, Hathorne, one of the most evil judges in the Salem Witch Trials.  Hawthorne diagnosed our national problem very well:  Young Goodman Brown is still wandering through the woods expecting a devil to jump out from behind every tree.  In the form of some breach of national security.  As if David Petreaus, even in the throes of that proverbial post-coital cigarette, would ever have lost control enough to blab big time to Paula.  No, the man's far too puritanical for that:  look at that ramrod straight posture!  His whole problem was that he couldn't lose control enough for his mental health, but Paula's fixed that.  So the scarlet A has been sewn on David Petraeus, but I hope he lands on his feet at Princeton, and that Paula, Jill, and Holly find happiness.   But good luck, since "puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy," H.L. Mencken said.  The generational differences in the pursuit of that forbidden happiness are obvious, but each path seems doomed.  Appearances may be deceiving, but Holly Petraeus, who was a beautiful young girl, does not impress one as someone for whom lust is, or ever was, a priority.  Let me imagine:  she was brought up to accept sexual advances from her husband, but the "lie back dear, and think of our great country," tradition ran so deep in her bones that pleasure never entered her head.  Or quickly evaporated in the wake of what God and Country told her were the meaning of life:  husband, children, home.  Now the other two ladies have been reading their Cosmopolitan and know where their G-spot is; they also know, as good Puritans, that whenever you enjoy yourself you better be looking over your shoulder, 'cause you're not living in Germany, where a scandal means cheating on your dissertation.  We Americans never left the world of Hawthorne.  But girls--you're overachievers and I know you'll land on your feet too!  David's only got a scarlet A--ya'll should try for an A+ now, ya hear?  

P.S.  At an election party in Berlin for the German T.V. station  ZDF, they ran out of Obama buttons and could not sell the Romney ones.  So Obama won Berlin, too, not just Florida.


  1. Wait, tell us what you REALLY think! (Just kidding. This is funny. Not sure you've got Mrs. P. right, but you've nailed it with Paula and MR. P. No one whose name suggests Icarus should be so careless.)

  2. Well, Mrs. P. is the hardest to figure. If I go by appearances, Angela Merkel is sexier--she's got fire in her eyes and her lust for power and her take-charge personality suggest that she also enjoys a roll in the hay. With Mrs. P, my hunch is that all her energies go into folding those towels perfectly, making sure dinner is hot, and submitting when necessary but without unseemly enjoyment to wifely duties. And they're really duties for her. Is my hunch. She can write back and tell me I'm wrong.