Editorial: Rappahannock is for lovers

As the David Petraeus scandal unfolded, Big Washington media breathlessly reported the Little Washington connection:

Last weekend when the salacious story first broke, Paula Broadwell, the woman at the heart of the scandal, was in Rappahannock County to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was to have been a romantic getaway arranged by her husband Scott, complete with flowers, champagne and a queen-size, four-poster bed at the Middleton Inn.

During the day, the Broadwells hiked and biked around the Rappahannock countryside. For dinner, they enjoyed the Thornton River Grille and the Inn at Little Washington. In between these activities, according to a story on The Washingtonian website, Paula did a lot of texting.

While initially the couple’s moods were reported to have been “upbeat,” according to the story’s unnamed sources, by Friday evening they were seen to be “not in very good moods.” They checked out of the Middleton Inn earlier than expected on Saturday morning after “an abrupt breakfast,” at which Scott Broadwell was described as “not talkative.”

A more interesting story, not talked about, would have been if Gen. Petraeus and Paula Broadwell had used Rappahannock County as a romantic location for their trysts. Who knows? It could have happened. But given the discreet innkeepers and worldly-wise restaurateurs, we the public might never know.

Rappahannock, unlike the rest of America, is not into revelations and gotcha journalism. Very little is surprising here and, belying Rappahannock’s sleepy image, it’s certainly never boring:

“I’ve been to dinner parties where 10 of the 14 guests had been married to each other’s partners,” says one old friend from around here. “Men change women and horses often. That’s sin and damnation in the view of the Puritans. But here, it’s more like metaphysical love poetry.”

A powerful, older man has an affair with an attractive, younger woman. It may be wrong. But what else is new?

Walter Nicklin