Washington's fixation with the David Petraeus sex scandal could have serious consequences for the whole country. The deadline to avert the so-called fiscal cliff -- the most pressing fiscal crisis at the moment -- could be delayed if members of Congress decide to hold hearings about Petraeus' extramarital affair.
The scandal has sucked the air out of Washington because of the intrigue (and national security concerns) but lawmakers cannot lose focus on the important issues like the fiscal cliff. The CBO, prominent economists and many Wall Street CEOs have all issued grave warnings about the economic impact if these billions of dollars of automatic spending cuts and tax increases go into effect next January. Will the lame-duck Congress listen? There are only so many legislative days left until end of the year. Now is the not the time to become preoccupied with sordid love scandals.
This rapidly changing story will likely reveal more shockers in the days to come. If you haven't been reading the newspaper or watching the cable shows, here's the latest in the Petraeus sex scandal:
- The center of gravity in the scandal has shifted to a mysterious woman in Tampa Bay whom many of our top military and law-enforcement brass appear to be obsessed with.
- This woman, Jill Kelley, is the wife of a surgeon and an "unpaid liaison" between the public and a nearby Air Force base. This "job" seems mainly to include hosting and attending parties and emailing with generals and FBI agents.
- Paula Broadwell, General Petraeus's mistress, lost her mind and sent anonymous harassing emails to this woman.
- Kelley got freaked out by the harassing emails and called the FBI, thus triggering the investigation that, so far, has sucked in the head of the CIA, a top general, and an FBI agent.
- The FBI agent assigned to investigate the case lost his mind and emailed "shirtless photos" to the woman.
- Another top U.S. general, John Allen, lost his mind and sent 20,000-30,000 inappropriate emails to the same woman.
- General David Petraeus showed up at a party at this woman's house in a 28-car motorcade.
- The woman, Jill Kelley, has hired the same lawyer that defended Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the same crisis PR person who represented Michael Vick.
- The woman insists that she has done nothing wrong and that she's the victim here (did anyone suggest she has done anything wrong?).
- The FBI agent who sent the shirtless photos of himself to the woman called Congress two weeks ago and leaked news of the investigation to House majority leader Eric Cantor.
- Paula Broadwell's dad says, tantalizingly, that "this story is about something else entirely" and that the whole truth will eventually come out.
- "Classified" material has been found on Paula Broadwell's computer, but both Petraeus and Broadwell deny that it came from him.
- The FBI just raided Paula Broadwell's house.
If this story really is about "something else entirely," we can't wait to hear what that is.
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