There was this woman who worked in Columbus for a time when I was there. Two women, actually. Both were young and quite pretty, which by newsroom standards made them practically Victoria’s Secret models. I think it’s safe to say both had their immediate (male) supervisors buffaloed, which is a little duh-you-don’t-say, but as someone who’s never been able to do that, it rankled a bit.
But only a bit. Both were far outside my orbit, so I was able to observe them both rather dispassionately.
Both were excellent at one key skill — seeming really busy. They bustled around, arms full of three-ring binders, pencils held in their mouths like a horse’s bit, hair prettily askew. They seemed barely contained. Oh my god I can’t believe how much I have to do, etc. They went to meetings. They leaned in close to talk to you. They contained multitudes. They vibrated with energy. (That men might find this attractive was something I’d never even considered until William Hurt essentially told Holly Hunter it was a huge turn-on in “Broadcast News.”)
One was working on a reporting project that was going to blow off lids. The other was launching a new section. Only the project landed with a dull, wet thud and the section editor ended up in the ER just hours before D-day, being treated for “stress” and seemingly clamped in a sustained anxiety attack.
I hadn’t thought of either of them in years, until I read this passage in a story about Paula Broadwell, posted yesterday in comments. Sorry for the length, but I need this whole passage to illustrate something.
One of Broadwell’s former professors at Harvard described her as a self-promoter who would routinely show up at office hours.
“It was very much, ‘I’m here and you’re going to know I’m here,’” said the professor, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of ongoing investigations. “She was not someone you would think of as a critical thinker. I don’t remember anything about her as a student. I remember her as a personality.”
The professor said when Petraeus chose Broadwell to write his biography, there was shock among the national security faculty at Harvard because “she just didn’t have the background — the academic background, the national security background, or the writing background.”
A second Harvard faculty member who knows Broadwell and Petraeus had similar misgivings.
At one point, Broadwell said she was leaving the doctorate track because she was overextended and didn’t have time to complete the coursework, recounted the professor, who was not authorized to speak to the press.
Broadwell later complained that the writing project on Petraeus was not going well.
“She was a lot of talk but not a lot of follow-through,” said the second professor, who described Broadwell’s struggle to deliver on the biography as “deeply embarrassing” to the Kennedy School. “That is why she brought on a co-author,” Vernon Loeb, an editor at the Washington Post.
Stipulated: It is the height of shittiness to say stuff like this behind the cloak of anonymity, and all that “the sensitivity of the investigation” and “not being authorized to speak to the press” is just a fancy way of being shitty. But if any of it is to be believed, it appears Broadwell was cut from the same cloth as these other women, born cute and smart and energetic, a city girl who seemed to find out early how to open doors with just a smile.
Broadwell was by any measure a superachiever, but she wouldn’t be the first woman defeated by a long-form writing project.
You want to know the punchline of this one? Check it:
Nonetheless, Harvard embraced Broadwell as a distinguished alumna after “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus” became a New York Times bestseller this year. On Sept. 10, the Kennedy School included Broadwell on an alumni panel of accomplished public servants and the next day hosted a forum at which she discussed her book.
Fuckers. Speaking of lyin’ eyes.
So. The weekend awaits. A little bloggage before I go? Sure.
This has been around for a while, and I know I said I was moving beyond the election, but “Letter to a future Republican strategist regarding white people” is too good a rant not to take note of:
My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.
Thanks, Eric Zorn.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must rest for a day of reportin’, writin’ and birthday-cake-bakin’ tomorrow. It’s a big day at our house, Nov. 16:
Hope your weekend is pleasant.