5 Reasons to Trudge Through Vernon Loeb’s Unremarkable Paula Broadwell Piece

Last night Washington journalists waited on pins and needles for WaPo Local Editor Vernon Loeb’s first-person account on writing the obviously authorized biography on General David Petraeus with alleged mistress Paula Broadwell. Finally around 7:30 p.m. it appeared and is published in today’s Style Section. Not surprisingly, Broadwell never responded to Loeb’s request for comment.

Why should you read the story that basically says Loeb had no earthly idea buxom Broadwell was shacking up with Petraeus?

1. The opening line, which essentially spells out the primary conclusion of his piece: “My wife says I’m the most clueless person in America.” Nice, catchy, draws you in, and it might as well end there.

2. But no, the cluelessness persists…“So when the news broke Friday that Petraeus was resigning in disgrace because of an adulterous affair, I was dumbfounded,” he writes, saying he gave her the benefit of the doubt until a few hours passed and the world learned that the alleged mistress was indeed Broadwell.

3. Loeb peculiarly refers to himself as a “ghostwriter.” But clearly his identity is revealed — he’s no ghost, although he might as well have been for how little he knew about the affair.

See the remaining two reasons…

4. Loeb offers a brief glimpse into Broadwell’s private life but in a clueless guy sort of way in that he can’t see what’s happening. Nothing juicy, but it’s something. “Professional, relaxed and clearly excited about the material she had for me in her big, comfortable house in a stately North Carolina neighborhood,” he writes. “She spoke with great affection about her husband, a surgical radiologist whom she’d met in the military, and her two young sons, whom she clearly adores.” Despite astute female colleagues remarking on the “eyebrows raised” and “flashy” way Broadwell dressed at national security conferences, Loeb continuously puts his embarrassing cluelessness on display: “Was something going on with Petraeus? I always said I didn’t think so.”

5. The contradictory meaning of this sentence: “I always thought that Broadwell’s motives were pure, and I always wondered why Petraeus was granting her the access that he did.” Seems Loeb wasn’t entirely clueless, something was tinkering around in that undeveloped intuition of his.