And then there is George Papadopoulos. Spoiler Alerts wrote about him back almost a year ago, when special counsel Robert S. Mueller III first indicted him. He seemed like a cautionary tale for the ambitious junior foreign policy wonk whose reach exceeded his grasp. As I noted then:
Every few years a young, ambitious person tries to make it in the foreign policy community and experiences a catastrophic success. They rise to prominence too quickly and then fall like Icarus after flying too close to power. A few years ago it was Paula Broadwell. More recently it was Elizabeth O’Bagy. Now it is George Papadopoulos’ turn.Ambition and ego are necessary qualities for any aspiring policy wonk, but they need to be kept in check lest they bleed over into the cutting of corners. Exaggeration and bravado can on occasion lead to short-term successes. But a sense of perspective and some well-developed ethical guidelines are just as useful. They can be the difference between a sustainable career and a plea deal with the FBI.Lest you doubt this, think about George Papadopoulos’ job prospects now.
Fast-forward to 2018, and Papadopoulos continues to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. Like Page, Papadopoulos has had to endure his former profs going on the record. The Daily Beast’s trio of Lachlan Markay, Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein got Papadopoulos’s former Russian professor at DePaul to say, on the record: “We knew his expertise was virtually nonexistent. It was thin and embellished. Lots of young people, when they aspire to get close to a campaign, exaggerate their experience. George did that in spades and it was the talk of the department here.” Yikes.
This has not deterred Papadapoulos one little bit. Naturally, he is trying to shop a book around about his experiences during the campaign and FBI investigation. Over the weekend, the Daily Beast’s Suebsaeng and Maxwell Tani reported that the former Trump campaign official wants to take the Fox News route to fame and fortune:
A source close to Papadopoulos told The Daily Beast that the former Trump campaign figure has become chummy with Sean Hannity, one of Fox’s biggest stars and one of President Trump’s top confidants. Papadopoulos plans to be a guest on the show in the upcoming week.Earlier this month, he excitedly announced the beginning of what could shape up to be his Trump-loving media tour: He tweeted out that he and Simona are set to appear in late-October on the Fox News program hosted by Jesse Watters, another Trump favorite and unapologetic defender of the president.It’s just one way Papadopoulos—who one year ago was practically left for dead by the entirety of Trumpworld—is vying to get back in the game. The source close to Papadopoulos said that the former Trump hand has also talked about eventually trying to return to foreign policy work. But first, he wants to share his side of the events that led to the FBI opening an investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Standing by Papadopoulos’s side through all of this has been his new wife, Simona Mangiante, who messaged the Daily Beast to claim, “Yes we are a power couple,” along with a smiley face emoticon.
The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts feels some sympathy for anyone dragged in the media by their former college prof. It’s poor form from us academics. As academic penance, and as someone familiar with the marketplace of ideas, I’d like to offer Mr. Papadopoulos — George, if I may — some free advice on what to do with his future:
Step 1: Don’t use the phrase “power couple” ever again. Hey George, you know who uses the term “power couple”? People who don’t possess any power. It is an automatic tell. You and your wife possess fame, which is something very different from power. I can understand the confusion when a reality-television celebrity is the president of the United States, but you are not Trump. Indeed, the fact that no one else has replicated Trump’s success in converting notoriety into power should clue you in to your powerlessness.
Seriously, gently suggest to your wife to lay off the “power couple” talk.
Step 2: Shut up for a while. No doubt, going on cable news can be fun. But it does not normally lead to anything of substance. You are not going to be paid for it, and there is no chance Sean Hannity gives you a regular gig. I know you think that this will burnish your credentials in Trumpworld, but it seems pretty clear that they’re not going to reciprocate the love. Seriously, the Daily Beast has Trump officials describing you as a “clown trying to make a buck.” And these are from your supposed allies!
The more you talk now, the more you cement your very tarnished reputation in the eyes of people who may hire you. Stop talking.
Step 3: Get a PhD. Trust me when I say that this is not the normal advice I give. But for you a PhD is the perfect career move. First, it adds an important credential to your otherwise lackluster résumé. Even better, it gives you a few years of — wait for it — not talking to the media! America loves second acts, and an older, wiser George Papadopoulos might find a place in the modern Ideas Industry. Just think how good “Dr. Papadopoulos” would sound.
Of course, to do this, you will actually have to apply for doctoral programs and hope you can finish things up in five or six years. But I fear that it is the only path remaining for you back to any kind of sustainable, respectable career. Your only other option is to go full Dinesh D’Souza, and you never want to go full D’Souza.
Good luck, George. Your career has gotten off to an infamous, vaguely comical start. I hope you can navigate it back to something more substantial.