What a wild few months for Office of Management and Budget stud-cum-nerd Peter Orszag! His lovechild is born! He's engaged to not-the-mama! And he's got the New York Times asking what he's going to do with his life!
Here's the thing: nobody gives a shit. And this is kind of amazing!
But do you know anything about Peter Orszag? Unless you read certain publications or blogs (like us!) often, probably not. Because the only people who give a shit about the guy who numbers the books in the Budget Office (BOR-RING) who also happens to be handsome are media folk and politics folk, whose obsessive interests are, at best, totally inane and inaccessible to Everyone Else. Compare this to Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who writes speeches and is young and plucky and maybe even single.
An editor at the New York Times is trying to stir up political controversy that's already blown over, with writer Mark Leibovich putting in an (at least) laudable performance to try to get the public to give a shit about Peter Orszag and his "complicated" life. Which he's not going to do, because it hasn't been done already. People just don't give a shit about Peter Orszag! And not for the media's lack of trying!
Reminder: this is a guy who
1. Is a nerdily-handsome Obama operative with
2. An ex-wife and two kids who
3. Broke up with his venture capitalist ex-girlfriend recently to
4. Get engaged to an ABC reporter who
5. Is a financial correspondent who often reports on the administration Peter works for while
6. Said venture-capitalist ex-girlfriend recently had his baby which was
7. Before we found out on Friday that his current fiancee has a mug shot which was long after
8. We found out last April in a New Yorker profile that his prize-winning thesis at Princeton was wrong
9. Which was long before Joan Rivers showed up in Page Six defending his Baby Mama today. (?!?!)
10. Or today's New York Times profile, which notes the fact that he dated Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, and that
11. Obama staffers have been concerned about his image,
12. Which has been compounded by his devoted groupie following of journalists, DC Wonks, and lower-level staffers, who are also detailed in today's Times piece, in the lede:
In retrospect, maybe the whole Peter Orszag groupie phenomenon was getting a little out of hand early last year with the (ahem) birth of Orszagasm.com, the fan blog devoted to the allegedly hunky White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget - a k a the guy who is "putting the OMG back in the OMB." Or maybe it was last March when the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, declared to The New York Times that Mr. Orszag has "made nerdy sexy."
To be fair to Mark Leibovich, who wrote this, yes, shit's gotten out of hand when Rahm's calling the budget guy sexy. But how out of hand? There are reasons people will never give a shit about Peter Orszag:
1. He's a nerd.
2. He and his ex-wife and his baby mama are all cool. The baby mama released a joint statement with Orszag saying so much.
3. The budget is boring and doesn't make for interesting news.
4. He's white. Like, really white.
5. Even the reporters reporting the story think the entire thing is silly, including the reporting on it:
As with any story of this nature in Washington, the Very Serious People who traffic in it are obliged to emphasize that such silliness is beneath them. Mr. Baer said that nearly every press inquiry he has received was prefaced with the requisite faux-sheepishness.
"Everyone feels the need to say, ‘I'm really sorry I have to ask you about this' and ‘I'm only carrying out orders from my boss,' " Mr. Baer said. (For the record: this reporter was only acting on orders from his boss.) And, of course, the Very Serious Media are not writing the Orszag Love-Child Story, they are merely writing about the media frenzy surrounding it.
Meta! I'm shocked the article wasn't called "Who Will Peter Orszag Do Next?" Pesky editors!
"He is, of course, still a celebrity nerd," said Ana Marie Cox, a national correspondent for Air America and unabashed Orsz-a-phile. "He is still a celebrity and he's still a nerd. What part of that isn't true?"
The first part about him being a celebrity! Reminder: this is coming from the person who (A) I adore! but (B) started Wonkette and (C) put a picture of Orszag in the same scrapbook as Tom Cruise and Jon Hamm! Most Americans wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Peter Orszag and Stephen Colbert, which, on the first draft of writing that post, included me.
Orszag is basically invincible to public interest, and he even wears a red bowtie, for fuck's sake.
As for Ana Marie Cox elevating Peter Orszag to celebrity, this is exactly like my most starstruck encounter being the time I met TyTy at The Spotted Pig.
TyTy is Jay-Z's BFF. He maced one of R Kelly's bodyguards for Jay-Z and got his ass kicked by Jim Jones in a Louis Vutton store, which also probably had something to do with Jay-Z. Jay-Z would be nowhere without TyTy. But the amount of people who would think the fact that I met TyTy is interesting is probably somewhere around the percentage of Americans who care about Peter Orszag outside of New York and DC.
[Also, for you commenters who've already showed up and are like, Peter Orszag is totally omg fugly like woah, first of all, you're assholes, but second of all, I'm willing to chance that he's better looking than you. Seriously. STFU.]