Congratulations, America: this Petraeus mess has now officially morphed into an episode of Scandal. Jill Kelley, the Florida woman who kicked off the federal investigation part of this sordidness when she reported to the FBI that she was being harassed by Paula Broadwell, the biographer with whom Petraeus was having an extramarital affair —got all that? — has enlisted the services of Judy Smith, the D.C.-based “fixer” upon whom Kerry Washington‘s Olivia Pope is based. (Smith is also Scandal‘s executive producer.)
USA Today reported that Ms. Kelley and her husband, Scott, hired Smith & Co.’s founder, PR maven Judy Smith, and attorney Abbe Lowell. Fox News, in writing about the FBI probe, also noted Smith & Co.’s new role in working with the Kelley family. …
In short order, news outlets began reporting that Ms. Kelley — contrary to what some early reports suggested — did not have an affair with General Petraeus. Although that bit of information is not directly tied to a statement from the crisis firm or to Ms. Kelley’s communications strategy, it’s a key detail that Ms. Kelley likely wanted to make public.
The person advising her has been at the center of a fair share of crises, to be sure. Judy Smith joined the White House in 1991, appointed as special assistant and deputy press secretary to President George H. W. Bush. She’s parlayed that experience into being an adviser on a string of high-profile government, celebrity and corporate crises.
According to her website, Ms. Smith’s experience includes matters related to: President Bill Clinton’s scandal involving Monica Lewinsky; the Iran Contra investigation; the prosecution of former Washington Mayor Marion Barry; the 1991 Gulf War; the Los Angeles riots; the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas; the congressional inquiry of Enron and the United Nations Foundation; and World Health Organization response to the SARS epidemic.
So far, this mess has involved two Republican congressman, another four-star general engaging in his own extramarital affair, and the FBI director who was investigating the CIA director for…well, who knows, really?
“It doesn’t add up,” Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas said haltingly yesterday about the motives behind all of this stuff but also plausibly about any random Scandal storyline. “It doesn’t make any sense. A lot of this doesn’t make any sense.”
Other morning fun-time links:
- If you’re a word nerd, you should holler at Lexicon Valley, Slate’s podcast about language. The latest episode focuses on the use of “undocumented” versus “illegals” in news stories about immigration, how those words double as a kind of signaling for the user’s political leanings, and the evolution of language in fraught political debates. (Plus: a quick, relevant digression about the origins of the slur “wetback.”)
- Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial demographic of the U.S. population. Soya over at Race Files interviews several prominent Asian American activists to try and figure out what this means for social justice and American politics.
- Digging into Latin@ voting patterns: Obama won 96 percent of votes cast by Dominican Americans, 78 percent of Mexican Americans, 83 percent of Puerto Ricans, 76 percent of Central Americans, 79 percent of South Americans, but he only nabbed 44 percent of Cuban Americans. He also did much better among Latin@ Catholics than with those who identify as born-again Christians, winning 81 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
- Kevin Drum: if the feds leave Colorado and Washington alone, they might learn some useful stuff about the implications of legalizing weed.
- Did this year’s election spell the end of the Religious Right’s political dominance?
- The history of the national debt in one simple chart.