What kind of sisterhood would keep a female journalist from writing about all of this? Just as those “real housewives” (and Kelley and her sister actually appeared on an episode of a reality show) always end up scrapping with each other over the crumbs of society, Broadwell and Kelley found the headquarters of CentCom weren’t big enough for both of them. They brought each other down. It’s impossible to avert our eyes.
No, it’s not fair that Petraeus’ setback is undoubtedly temporary, like Bill Clinton’s was, while Kelley’s fate — if not Broadwell’s — may more closely resemble Monica Lewinsky’s. Lewinsky, you may not remember, went on to sell handbags. Clinton is merely the third-most-admired man in the whole world.
This is not to say that sexism and its despicable cousin, ageism, aren’t rampant in the coverage of women.
Would anyone pound on the 70-year-old Mitch McConnell for keeping his job as minority leader of the Senate? Yet that’s what happened to 72- year-old House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi when she declined to step aside for the 73-year-old Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. When people talk about Hillary Clinton running for president in 2016, they are quick to note she will be 69 in four years, as if being the same age as Ronald Reagan when he first ran would make her impossibly old. Of course, if you believe women age in dog years, in 2016 she would be 483, which does sound kind of old.
I digress. Regarding coverage of the Petraeus affair: It’s not so much sexism rearing its ugly head as it is opportunism. Every life is interesting, if you examine it closely enough, and if you’re famous — even temporarily, even accidentally — you will be examined.
It is through a combination of bad judgment and bad fortune that Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley find themselves at the center of attention. It is not only because of their gender. In fact, if a powerful woman were playing the part of Petraeus in this saga, I’m confident we would be using the same microscope to examine the men fighting over her.
Instead of Paula and Jill, it would be all about Paul and Jack. What a story that will be.