In Defense of Paula Broadwell

There's something unseemly about Harvard professors sharpening their knives over an ambitious woman's downfall.

Talk about a catfight. We thought Jill Kelly and Paula Broadwell were the main event in the David Petraeus affair. No one warned us about the Harvard faculty.

On Thursday, two of Broadwell’s former professors saw fit to skewer her, anonymously, in the Boston Globe. A sampling:

“She was not someone you would think of as a critical thinker. I don’t remember anything about her as a student. I remember her as a personality.”

“When Petraeus chose Broadwell to write his biography, there was shock among the national security faculty at Harvard because ‘she just didn’t have the background — the academic background, the national security background, or the writing background.’”

“‘She was a lot of talk but not a lot of follow-through,’ said the second professor, who described Broadwell’s struggle to deliver on the biography as ‘deeply embarrassing’ to the Kennedy School. ‘That is why she brought on a co-author.’”

Not a critical thinker, a “personality,” can’t finish her damn book without help—what more could this woman do wrong? Well, apparently, more:

She was “a self-promoter who would routinely show up at office hours.”

But wait. Aren’t students supposed to show up at office hours?

Granted, Harvard hasn’t had the best fall. After high flying through last year with Linsanity and a record admissions yield, this year brought a major cheating scandal and now this—an “unserious” woman among its ranks who had keys to a kingdom she had no right to dwell in. The commentary just drips with intellectually elitist disdain.

The truth is we know too much and not enough about Paula Broadwell. Of course, there are real questions about invasion of personal privacy, the dangers of a sex-obsessed media, sexist coverage of the scandal, and whether the affair should have ever been brought to the FBI’s attention in the first place. These are serious questions. What that Harvard profs brought to the table yesterday just aren’t.

There’s something unseemly about the academic elites (and I don’t mean that in a bad way, I swear) sharpening their knives over this ambitious woman’s downfall. Their catty contributions to this mess are witch-hunt propaganda, and I would suggest that they, too, aren’t being very serious.

Perhaps President Faust should ask them to stand down.