A must read for the Fourth of July weekend is Judy Bachrach’s side-splitting review for The Weekly Standard of “The Washingtonienne,” eponymous blogstress (and, later, Playboy Playmate) Jessica Cutler’s tell-all roman a clef about her short-lived job as a Senate aide on Capitol Hill and the innovative ways in which she supplemented her $25,000-a-year salary, all of them duly recorded in salacious detail on her website during work-hours–which ultimately got Jessica fired.
Judy points out that while Jessica might have been a bad girl, her novel isn’t bad at all, and that it’s in fact pretty darned funny. Jessica’s first-person narrator, obviously modeled after herself, nails with bulls-eye accuracy the dreary social scene in our nation’s capital: the political hacks, the dowdy clothes, the awful entertainment:
“Senators got invited to a lot of lame parties, like receptions in honor of helicopters, and charity balls for revolting diseases I had never heard of….I would have killed myself if I had to go to all those dumb things, even with all the free booze.”
“Those familiar with Cutler’s short-lived nom de blog–in 2004, under the alias Washingtonienne, she chronicled electronically and with a fair degree of self-deprecation her voluminous love life (‘S–t, I’m f–ing six guys. Ewwww…’)–may recall that on its dissemination in mainstream outlets, Cutler was fired from her other job, the one she could actually mention to her parents. Evidently, the office of Senator Mike DeWine, an obviously humorless Republican from Ohio, felt that Cutler couldn’t be both a Senate staffer earning $25,000 a year by answering (or in the case of Cutler’s alter-ego, not answering) crank letters from constituents and maintain her status as the Samuel Pepys of promiscuity.
“But really, why not? It isn’t as though these two careers are mutually exclusive. In fact, there was clearly plenty of time, in Cutler’s view, to pursue both paths, albeit obviously not with the same degree of zeal. ‘Do you ever feel like you’re not accomplishing anything at all? That’s what working on the Hill was like,’ Cutler writes in her novel. And she should know.
“Ever wonder why, when you phone your local congressman, no one, however low-level or clueless, bothers to answer? Cutler’s book is full of dialogue that provides useful insights into this problem.
“‘If you’re not taking calls, then I’m not, either,” declares one pretty assistant hitting the Call Forward button so she can hash over the previous evening’s engagements with an office mate. Another remarks of a perpetually occupied colleague, ‘Laura is a bicameral slut.'”
“In Washingtonienne, congressional staffers do not waste precious flirting time (and here I am using the f-word most euphemistically) in order to compose press releases or analyze the latest Social Security proposal. Mornings are devoted to blogging the high points of the previous night. Afternoons to reruns of Law & Order on the office TV set. This very likely is what accounts for the endurance of the Republic.”
Meanwhile the world of real-life Jessica and her short-lived blog (here it is, archived) lives on and on.
According to Washington scuttlebutt, Jessica was served with lawsuit papers while signing copies of her novel a couple of weeks ago at a downtown Washington bookstore. The plaintiff, suing Jessica for invasion of privacy and emotional distress, is said to be Robert Steinbuch, Senate Judiciary counsel for DeWine and identified as “R.S.” on Jessica’s blog. Click here and scroll around for many photos of Jessica and one of Steinbuch, as well as the most memorable quotation attributed to “R.S.” by Jessica on her blog–a quotation that is, unfortunately, unprintable here on decorous InkWell. Steinbuch apparently is or was married and the father of two children.