It’s been about 10 days since Paula Broadwell became a household name. Before November 9, Broadwell was PhD candidate, wife, mother, and author of a new biography of General David Petraeus. Now, she’s a punchline on Saturday Night Live. Unsurprisingly, she’s having a tough time, even as her previous dreams of being a politician or TV star come to light.
SNL’s cold open this weekend portrayed Broadwell, played by newcomer Cecily Strong, reading from her biography of Petraeus, “All In,” at a bookstore. (Also, cool shout-out to Washington’s excellent bookstore, Politics and Prose.) In SNL’s version, the book is a work of soft-core erotica about the relationship between Broadwell and Petraeus: “‘But you are a dirty girl, Paula,’ he replied. ‘But you’re my dirty girl.’”
As for the real Broadwell, we’re now getting a peek into her current mindset. A close friend of hers told the AP yesterday that she deeply regrets the affair, and that she’s trying to repair the damage done to her family. Unsurprisingly, she’s apparently devastated.
It’s not just her family that’s suffered damage. Her professional reputation is hurting, too. Early reports portrayed Broadwell as a Harvard-educated power woman. But the intense scrutiny of the scandal has now revealed that she was asked to leave the doctoral program at Harvard in 2007 because her work didn’t meet the program’s standards. As Michael Moynihan puts it in the Daily Beast, “how many people do you know clever enough to be kicked out of America’s most prestigious university?” That’s the kind of thing that would never have become national news if the affair had remained secret.
Meanwhile, the New York Post reported a few days ago that Broadwell had been thinking about running for office or becoming a TV presence. “In the spring, Paula was looking at how to build an overall brand, how to take advantage of her time in the national media spotlight while promoting her book and leverage it into a production company or becoming a regular contributor on TV,” an anonymous source tell the paper. “She also said she was considering potentially running for office, and many people had come to her about that. She said she had gotten requests from both parties to consider running for office.” Apparently she also considered becoming a fitness expert and spending more time on philanthropic efforts.
Now, none of those options are realistic. Although she’s on TV every night these days, this can’t be the kind of career she hoped for.