You may have missed this. But then, that would be understandable.
It seems that along with all the other kernels that popped furiously when the Petraeus resignation began to boil, the whole thing is related to the best new show on TV. Here’s how:
If you haven’t seen it (and shame on you if that’s true), Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” stars Kerry Washington as a Washington, D.C., “crisis manager.” It’s based on the exploits and career of a very real woman named Judy Smith who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration and then became one of the most reliable “fixers” in town, the woman to see if something is about to hit the fan (or already has) and you’re in desperate need of a rain slicker. Smith is, in fact, an adviser on the show.
She is, otherwise, a slightly shadowy figure thought to be as secretive as CIA underlings once were (remember that Bush was once a CIA director, just like former Gen. David Petraeus). Photos of Smith, for instance, aren’t plentiful. On the other hand, she does write an “Ask Judy” column for the Huffington Post, so her shadow status is hardly total.
Look at the picture accompanying Smith’s entry in Wikipedia and she looks every bit as beautiful as Kerry Washington, the first-rate actress playing Olivia Pope, the uberfixer loosely based on Smith.
One good reason, of course, that Judy Smith never became a household word in hypeworld when “Scandal” went on the air is that the show’s Olivia Pope is carrying on a long, high-stakes love affair with the Republican president of the United States, who is played by Tony Goldwyn (an actor, in life, no doubt raised amid glamorous tales of power and backstreet romance; he’s the grandson of film producer Samuel Goldwyn, of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer fame).
Reports surfaced this week that Smith is plying her real trade with Jill Kelley, the Petraeus family friend who set the whole Petraeus mess in motion when she complained of getting jealous emails from a woman who turned out to be Petraeus’ biographer Paula Broadwell, with whom the general finally felt forced to admit had played hanky to his panky.
The story thus far – and these kernels are popping crazily and daily as the oil gets hotter – is that Kelley was just a Petreaus family friend and was not romantically involved with Petraeus. On the other hand, she was involved in a way with Gen. John Allen, Petraeus’ four-star successor as U.S. commander in Afghanistan after Petraeus took his four-star self over to be head of the CIA, the role he felt obliged to resign from.
Now then. Let’s catch our breath. Popcorn is indeed addictive once you start munching on it, but there’s entirely too much of the stuff floating around in the fake butter of this $8 bucket.
It is indeed a very real Washington mess when you have two four-star generals caught in the act of spending far too much time with Big Brass groupies. And when I say time, I mean time. The one absolute stunner of a fact that bubbled out of the mess is that Allen’s relationship with Kelley involved 20,000 pages of emails between them, a number which is either an unfortunate misprint somewhere along the way (I’m constantly typing hard enough to produce two letters sometimes in my computer instead of one) or is indicative of an obsessive and downright nutso amount of virtual hoochy-koo (unless, of course, one of them fancies himself or herself a writer and is using the other as a built-in readership of one).
Allen’s appointment as NATO chief is now on hold, while the chorus of horse laughs dies down. Its survival seems dicey at best. Petraeus, it seems to me, was absolutely right to resign as CIA director for the utterly elementary reason that no country should ever be asked to trust its intelligence to a CIA director so inept at hugger-mugger that he couldn’t even keep an extracurricular affair secret.
(One hesitates to ask, but someone has to: Why on earth was such a public preener and media high-roller appointed the head of our most covert government agency? Shouldn’t the person running it be as much of a selfless, faceless bureaucrat and analyst as possible, and not a four-star general used to walking into a room with so much salad on his chest that heads turn everywhere? Is the ability to give congressional testimony the determining factor? Just asking.)
Carefully notice here that I haven’t mentioned that Kelley has a twin, whose marital difficulties occasioned sympathetic involvement on her behalf from Petraeus. I’m not really mentioning it – forget I just did – because it seems to me the whole notion of “twin sisters” is a red herring designed to inspire salacious fantasies among those given to salacious fantasies about red herrings.
Also please carefully note that I refuse to make a big deal out of the fact that Kelley – the complainant who reportedly didn’t like getting slimed with Broadwell’s jealous emails – was the recipient of shirtless photos sent by an investigating FBI agent. It’s a truly hilarious detail, mind you, but he really doesn’t matter in the main story so just file him away with any other miscellaneous twin sisters that start popping amid the boil.
Meanwhile, back at “Scandal” with its inspiration, Judy Smith, you might ask what good could she do Kelley at this stage? (That’s why you should have been watching the show, if you haven’t been.)
Apparently, Kelley is delusional enough about the way media swarmers actually work that she thought the fact that she’s somehow the recipient of an honorary consul general decree from South Korea might entitle her to the kind of special consideration accorded real diplomats and their families. Whether or not South Korea passes such things out like fliers under wipers in parking lots (I’ll bet they do), it’s germane to absolutely nothing as paparazzi swarm to get every possible photo and real journalists look to unearth every facet of her life to see what else pops. It should never have been mentioned to anyone because it makes her look even worse than everyone else involved in this whole mess already (even the shirtless FBI agent, who may just have a criminally bizarre sense of humor).
And that’s when, according to TV’s “Scandal” with Olivia Pope, people call fixers like Judy Smith, who was the coolest and cleverest inspiration for a TV show in many years. (My vote: We need fewer vampires, zombies, cops and lawyers and more crisis managers and PR advisers to undeservedly famous idiots.)
Now that Petraeus is a goner from the CIA and Allen seems toast, the only major questions here are:
1) Will the incoming CIA director be a star-spangled big name or – for more safely it seems to me – someone completely comfortable working in the shadows and testifying to closed congressional committees?
2) How long will it take the opening episode of next season’s “Scandal” for show runner Rhimes to allude to the whole Petraeus affair? I’m going to guess right here it happens before the first commercial of the first show.
3) How many episodes will be involved with a wild and delightful fictionalization of it all on the show? I’m guessing a full-scale arc of three.
Anything more would be tacky and vulgar, don’t you think?