The biographer and the general. And the lawyers?

Al Kamen
Columnist November 12, 2012

Paula Broadwell, the newly famous author of a book on now-former CIA director David Petraeus , might want want to take a cue from Jill Kelley — the alleged recipient of those unpleasant e-mails — when it comes to Damage Control 101.

Kelley, who Broadwell allegedly may have been concerned was the general’s other “other woman,” has lawyered up with renowned defense lawyer Abbe Lowell. His former clients include John Edwards, Gary Condit (in the Chandra Levy investigation), Bill Clinton (during impeachment days) and Loop Favorite/disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Kelley also hired crisis-management guru Judy Smith — of Monica Lewinsky and BP (the oil-spill company) fame — to handle any media fallout.

But it appears Broadwell has yet to set up a team, though she has hired veteran Washington criminal defense lawyer Robert Muse.

And although she’s known for months about potential trouble via the FBI investigation, she had planned a birthday dinner last week at the superb — and very, very expensive — Inn at Little Washington.

Worst of all, she never bothered to even tweak her bio on the Web site of the Institute for Defense & Business, which, while probably factual, could have some discreet scrubbing.

Broadwell, on the board of directors at the educational and training institute, had “unprecedented access to one of America’s most acclaimed leaders,” the bio says, referring to Petraeus, and she was “at his elbow in a war zone.”

And then: “Broadwell embedded with the general, his headquarters staff, and his soldiers.” Oh, dear.

Please. Just changing a few words would help.

On the other hand, Broadwell’s book is apparently faring well on Amazon’s best-seller list. On Saturday afternoon, it was No. 93 for all books, No. 1 for books on the military and the Middle East, and No. 5 for biographies, though by Monday evening it had settled down to No. 137 for all books.

Naked and the reelected

Could it be that the Sea of Galilee has mystical electoral properties?

Ask the members of Congress who splashed in its waters during a fact-finding mission to the Holy Land. The congressmen-gone-wild revelry, which was revealed in August, caused plenty of embarassment all around. And yet none of the swimmers suffered any ill effects from the scandal during the election — so we can only credit those waters.

Every member of the group who faced an election on Nov. 6 bested his opponent. Even Rep. Kevin Yoder , the Kansas Republican who went the full Monty and skinny-dipped, was reelected.

Republican Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Steve Southerland (Fla.) will also be returning to Congress, though Southerland had to survive a hard-fought race.

Only Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) lost his primary after taking the plunge — but he claimed to have only been in the water “for 30 seconds at most,” so the magic clearly didn’t have a chance to take.

Perhaps incumbents facing tough races might think about taking a swim?

Openly ambitious

Various supporters of President Obama — the ones who pulled out their wallets and turned out their constituencies for his reelection — will soon be coming to call at the White House.

Knock, knock . . .

Hey, it’s the Human Rights Campaign, which wants to see a second Obama administration make gay rights an even bigger priority than it did in the last four years.

HRC President Chad Griffin told our colleague Ned Martel the day after the election that his organization would love to see an openly gay Cabinet secretary and an openly gay ambassador to a Group of 20 nation. Both would be firsts (David Huebner, who’s gay, is ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, but the HRC wants one of the big-deal countries). Griffin says there are plenty of qualified candidates out there — enough to fill a binder or two. “Our government, particularly in this administration, looks like America,” he says. “And it’s important to have a Cabinet that looks like America.”

In not-unrelated news, gay money was a key to Obama’s fundraising success. A dozen members of his national finance team are gay, and we’re hearing that they collectively outraised the other “affinity groups” — categories such as “Latinos” or “trial lawyers” — represented on the team.

Money aside, gays even can make the argument that they handed Obama the election: According to exit polling, 5 percent of voters identified themselves as gay and 76 percent of those voters supported the Democratic ticket. Of voters who didn’t identify as gay, only 49 percent voted for Obama.

There’s a grand tradition of presidents rewarding their biggest donors with choice ambassadorships. And Obama would have plenty of gay donors (like power couple Michael Smith, the famed decorator, and HBO exec James Costos, who were among his biggest bundlers) to choose from to staff some of the choicer embassies around the globe.

As for that Cabinet post, there may be a few openings. We know that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are definitely planning to head for the hills at some point. Others are mulling over the decision — and then there’s the post of commerce secretary, which is vacant.

There are certainly some gay candidates who could fit the bill. Among those often talked about to fill various Cabinet posts are John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Fred Hochberg, president of the Import-Export Bank, who’s most often mentioned for that Commerce Department job.

Of course, the donations-for-nominations game is never couched as a quid pro quo. But when the door knocks . . .

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter:InTheLoopWP.

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