The Washington Post

David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell sex scandal: What happens to the Other Woman after an affair goes public? Not too many happy endings

Donna Rice Hughes (Courtesy of Donna Rice Hughes )

No surprise there: Powerful men can sometimes bounce back from even the most lurid affairs, but the Other Woman rarely survives the firestorm intact. Call it sexism, bad luck or lousy PR — these modern Hester Prynnes live on in Google forever.

Bill Clinton has never been more popular; Monica Lewinsky, despite a degree from the London School of Economics, has never managed to hold down a job. John Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter, is even more despised than the ruined politician after writing a tell-all memoir. Megan Marshack, the former radio reporter who was with Nelson Rockfeller the night he died in 1979, hasn’t worked on-air for more than 30 years.

Petraeus with Broadwell in Afghanistan. (AFP/GetttyImages)

Rice Hughes was 29 in 1987 when her brief relationship with Hart — then the leading Democratic prospect for the 1988 presidential nomination — exploded into public view. Within days, her name and picture were everywhere, and she remained in the headlines for the next 18 months. “It took on a life of its own,” she said.

Now it seems there’s a sex scandal every few months; back then, there was no role model, no map of how to navigate a storm like this. Rice lost her pharmaceutical and commercial acting jobs. “I knew I wanted to take the high road,” she said. “I prayed continually that I would make wise choices and tried to take the long view. I really wanted the pain to count for something good.”

Rielle Hunter’s interviews and tell-all did little to redeem her image. (Shawn Rocco/The News & Observer)

“People told me I’d never been taken seriously,” she said. But she was hired by the anti-pornography group Enough Is Enough, where she’s now president and an acknowledged expert on Internet safety issues — she frequently testifies before Congress and has produced a film series on the subject.

While Rice Hughes has thrived professionally, upbeat endings for the Other Woman usually involved marriage. Argentine beauty Maria Belen Chapur is now engaged to former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, despite the fact their affair effectively ended his political career. And remember Suzy Wetlaufer? The former Harvard Business Review editor had an affair with departing GE head Jack Welch while writing a profile of him — and lost her job, but went on to marry and co-author books with the multimillionaire corporate executive.

Suzy and Jack Welch in 2007. (Brad Barket/Getty Images)

But a party for friends over the weekend was canceled; she disabled her Facebook account just hours before her involvement in the affair went public Friday and has given no interviews . . . yet.

More on the Petraeus affair:

Lawmakers want probe of Petraeus investigation

Former aides wonder: Did Petraeus stumble in unfamiliar terrain?

With Paula Broadwell, Gen. David Petraeus let his guard down

David Petraeus and other political sex scandals: What does it take to kill a career?

Also in The Reliable Source:

Hey, isn’t that...?: Joe and Jill Biden

Quoted: Philip Roth ends his writing career

Love, etc.: Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez break up

Quoted: Ashley Judd on running for Senate

Congress’s Class of 2012: Which freshmen reps will provide an interesting story?



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