Phase Two of the Petraeus Affair spun into high gear last week as the major players embroiled in the sex-lies-and-spies drama deployed Washington's most powerful crisis-management artillery to help shape their version of the story.
General Petraeus, who is reportedly bouncing off the walls at home, where he has been holed up since his forced resignation from the CIA on November 9, snagged legendary Beltway lawyer Robert Barnett, whose client list includes the likes of Bob Woodward, Barbra Streisand, James Carville, Benazir Bhutto, Karl Rove, Alan Greenspan, Queen Noor, Sarah Palin, Tony Blair and Dick Cheney.
Contrary to rumours that he is negotiating a publishing deal for the general, Barnett is said to be focusing on his client's future career plans which, unsurprisingly, do not include any more books.
Concerned friends tell the New York Times that since the scandal erupted, the hard-charging four-star general has been reduced to hitting the stationary bike and chatting on the phone. "He kept such a gruelling schedule. This is unchartered territory for him right now," offered one confidant.
"Several of us are concerned," added another. "He's a very active individual. He needs to stay active." Indeed.
Petraeus' biographer and ex-mistress Paula Broadwell, meanwhile, hired former Clinton White House press secretary Dee Dee Myers to help put a positive play on her plight. Myers, whose firm (Glover Park Group) has four people working around the clock just tracking media requests, describes her role as one to "help Paula and her legal team navigate a crowded media environment, manage incoming requests and ensure that her story is accurately told. It's really impossible for anyone in Paula's situation to manage the daily avalanche of interview requests, let alone try to fact-check the stories that are out there."
Myers, who served as one of the original consultants for The West Wing, declined to comment on whether she had anything to do with a spate of anonymous reports claiming Broadwell regrets the affair and the damage it has caused everyone involved – a by-the-book strategy, Ad Age magazine notes, designed to "take the spotlight off the investigation into the affair's potential impact on national security and refocus it on an individual trying to fix a personal mistake."
Top DC fixers join the fray
BROADWELL'S nemesis Jill Kelley, the saucy Tampa socialite whose complaint to the FBI about cyber-harassment set the scandal in motion, did one better by tapping two of DC's legendary fixers – trial lawyer Abbe Lowell and public relations adviser Judy Smith – to handle her image issues.
Lowell, who served as pro-Clinton Democratic Party chief counsel on a House impeachment inquiry, recently won an acquittal for John Edwards, the former VP candidate who had been indicted for misusing undeclared campaign funds to support his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and their love child.
Smith, a one-time press aide to President George H W Bush, served as Monica Lewinsky's spokeswoman. She also happens to be the muse for Kerry Washington's character in Scandal, an ABC-TV drama series in which spin-doctor Olivia Pope sorts out and/or covers up sexy espionage scandals while having an illicit affair with a fictional US president. In her most recent blog post for the show, Smith (who is listed as co-producer along with Shonda Grey's Anatomy Rhimes) discusses "the dangers of electronic media and how digital traces can come back to haunt people".
Romney's just a regular guy
IN another irony tickling liberal Washington's funny bone, Mitt Romney is expected to score just over 47 per cent of the electorate's vote which, nearly three weeks after Obama's win, is still being counted in many states. The projection (which shows Obama leading 50.75 per cent to Romney's 47.57 per cent) delivered by the Cook Political Report is just salt in the wound of the foiled GOP candidate, who is being mercilessly ribbed for celebrating his new-found freedom last weekend by taking in a showing of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 after a date-night pizza dinner with wife Ann.
And that was before a decidedly dishevelled Romney was snapped pumping his own gas at a petrol station near his new hometown of La Jolla, California on Monday.
"He looks tired and washed up," wrote MKB95 on Reddit.com, where the unflattering photo was posted, generating more than 3,600 negative comments in 24 hours.
The fun continued on Tuesday when Romney's trip with his grandkids to Disneyland trended on Twitter and not just because he was snapped smiling on Splash Mountain, but because he was wearing the same button-down checked shirt that he had on the day before.
Any future attempts to portray the billionaire businessman as a regular (read: non old, rich, white) guy will have to wait until after he deals with the imminent renovation of his $12m, 3,000-square- foot beachfront home.
Much to the ire of locals, Romney has secured planning permission to bulldoze the joint to make way for an upsized 11,602-square-foot pied-à-terre complete with not-so-normal touches such as an underground garage boasting a $55,000 Phantom Parking device, which will allow vehicles to be transported via lift from a ground-level garage to a subterranean parking bay. He reportedly got the idea from fellow car-parking-enthusiast, Britney Spears.
When Nancy met Jane
JANE Fonda says she's convinced that Nancy Reagan has no problem with the actress playing her in the upcoming movie, The Butler, which stars Alan Rickman as President Ronald Reagan in the life-story of White House butler Eugene Allen ( Forest Whitaker), whose career spanned 34 years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
"I know that she was happy that I was doing it, and I sent some questions to her that she answered," Fonda told reporters after receiving the LA Press Club's Visionary Award last week. Claiming she wants to portray Reagan accurately, the outspoken liberal actress said she reached out to the 91-year-old after producers "had me doing something that wasn't very nice ... And I said, 'if she really did this, I'll do it. But if it's made up, I don't want to do it.' I don't want to take cheap shots at her."
Apparently, Mrs Reagan brushed off Fonda's concerns – a move, the actress admitted, that surprised her.
"Back when she was feisty she wasn't nice to me," Fonda revealed, before boasting that "We all mellow."
Equally mellow is the 71-year-old's romantic relationship with record producer Richard Perry, 67. The couple, who were due to be married just before Christmas, have just called off their wedding.
According to one source, Fonda is telling friends that she doesn't want to jinx their relationship by making him husband number four. "She loves him too much to make him just another husband," is the rather brilliant exit-line that is floating around Hollywood.