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Roger Simon

Hot on Trail of a Story Called Georgette

February 05, 1989|Roger Simon

It was raining. Gray clouds hung heavy in the sky like dirty bags of laundry. I sat at my desk and lit a cigar.

That was breakfast. The most important meal of the day.

I'm a reporter. It's my job to know what's going on. My paper's motto is: "If It Happens in the World, It's News to Us."

The Chief called me into his office. "Kid," he said, for that is what they call me, "what story did I assign you two months ago?"

I tried to think. "Was it a series?" I asked. "Potholes: Threat or Menace?"

The Chief exploded. "Georgette Mosbacher!" he screamed. "She's the hottest story in this country right now and we're months behind on it."

I pushed back the fedora that sat on my head like a squashed hen and scratched my head. "Georgette Mosbacher," I said. "A titian-haired beauty. Wife of the guy George Bush picked to be Commerce secretary. Keeps marrying rich guys. And is beginning to rival Donald Trump as the Most Written About Person You Really Don't Want to Read About."

The Chief scooped up a bunch of clippings and threw them at me. One from Reuters landed on my nose:

"WASHINGTON--Georgette Mosbacher, the flamboyant wife of President Bush's nominee for Commerce secretary, did not attend her husband's confirmation hearings Tuesday, apparently not wanting to outshine the meeting."

The chief tossed clipping after clipping at me. There was a magazine article from a Washington newspaper in which she was called "gorgeous" with an "ample cleavage" on "her drop-dead, Size 6 body" that was stuffed into "figure-hugging" gowns. She was "sexy" and had a "real, sexual marriage," looked like "Rita Hayworth" and in high school "even then filled out her angora sweater."

(Needless to say, a woman wrote all this. Had a man written it, he would have been slapped with a sexual harassment suit before the story cleared the copy desk.)

And during the inaugural festivities never a day went by without a mention of Georgette in the press:

Jan. 19: A story about the "unabashed neck-craning" for the "red-haired" Georgette at a Marilyn Quayle luncheon. While Mrs. Quayle spoke, "half the 400 people in the room turned to stare" at Georgette and her husband.

Jan. 20: ". . . Texas socialite Georgette Mosbacher, in jewels and evening gown, was out walking her dog on M Street near the Jefferson. . . ."

And, in another story, Georgette was mentioned for not being somewhere. About 500 people attended a reception for the Bush children, but there were "some notable no shows--James Baker, Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), Bob and Georgette Mosbacher."

Bob, by the way, is the Texas oil baron who raised $60 million for George Bush during the campaign, "and was suitably rewarded with the Cabinet post of secretary of Commerce," according to one article. According to another, he "raised millions for Bush and has been rewarded with this big new job."

The buying and selling of Cabinet posts used to be considered a felony in this country. But, hey, c'mon, the guy is married to a woman with "a freewheeling, nouvelle style," who is "nervy, sexy, flashy" and had "her eyebrows permanently darkened by a Gary, Ind., tattoo artist."

And who's gonna prosecute the husband of a dish like that?

Jan. 21: "In general, a leading topic of conversation seemed to be Georgette Mosbacher, the social bombshell . . . who struck this amazing pose for the camera. . . . 'All the ladies are jealous, yet there's no animosity toward her,' one woman said."

Jan 22: At a series of post-inaugural parties, "people just crowded all around" Georgette and her husband and "with each one she took the time for a real discussion, and she was warm and direct and down-to-earth in a way you seldom see in this town. She's an energetic conversationalist and she has an easy, throaty laugh that breaks the ice right away."

At an ABC party, "first and foremost" among the guests was that Commerce secretary guy and Georgette, "a vision in lavender."

Then at another that same night, Georgette, wearing "a hip-hugging black Balmain (What? She changed from lavender to black in the limo?) stayed close to her husband, who . . . managed to look gray next to his eyeball-riveting wife."

" 'I am going to love Washington,' cooed the red-haired Georgette Mosbacher.

"Robert Mosbacher then quietly moved his magnet of a spouse away from reporters. 'We are going to love it here. I am ready to get to work,' he said, though it looked as if he might spend all his time diverting attention away from his diverting wife."

"See?" the Chief yelled at me, snapping me back to reality. "The guy is already trying to divert attention away from Georgette!"

I stood up and ground out my cigar on the Chief's desk. "No way the press is going to be diverted from this story, Chief," I promised. "Because if there's one thing we know in this business, it's news."

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