Orszag has long been known around Washington as a ladies man. (Ron Sachs / Getty Images )
Everyone admits that the scandal surrounding Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House, is a fatuous waste of time. Orszag fathered a child with one very high-gloss girlfriend and, just weeks after the baby was born, he got engaged to another woman with similarly stellar stats.
But really, aren't there more important things to think about (like managing the budget)? Or this: Why are people so surprised that Orszag could score with hot women?
How hot? Well, Claire Milonas, a 39-year-old venture capitalist and Greek shipping heiress who's Orszag's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his new child, is extremely pretty in a Marisa Tomei-like way. His fiancee, 31-year-old news correspondent Bianna Golodryga, looks (as long as we're making celebrity comparisons) like Penelope Cruz. (Please, no letters telling me Cruz is hotter than Tomei. You know what I'm saying; they're both knockouts.)
As for Orszag, he kind of looks like a cross between Bill Nye the Science Guy and a member of Devo.
Sure, Orszag is tall and runs marathons. But he talks like he's got a clothespin clamped to his nose, looks a heck of a lot like he's wearing a toupee and is . . . well, the budget director. Not exactly a sexy job, even by gelded Washington standards.
Still, Orszag, a 41-year-old Exeter/Princeton/London School of Economics grad who already has two older children and an ex-wife, has long been known around Washington as a ladies man. He dated several high-profile women, and there's even a website -- Orzagasm.com -- devoted to his pheromonal appeal. Last week, Orszag took a ribbing from Jon Stewart, who expounded on his Casanova-isms by impersonating a love-struck teenage girl.
Orszag, for his part, says he'd ended his relationship with Milonas well before getting involved with Golodryga. Some of Milonas' friends, apparently, are insinuating otherwise (because defending the jilted girlfriend, along with procuring vast amounts of vodka and gelato, is the job of her friends after a breakup). She has told reporters she sees the whole episode as "silly" and wishes Orszag well in his nuptials (because saying things like this, along with chopping off your hair and abruptly dropping 15 pounds, is the job of the jiltee -- though presumably Milonas was too occupied by her new baby to indulge in such cliches).
Orszag may be a compelling figure as far as budget directors go (though, to be fair, his predecessor, Jim Nussle, once worked as a volunteer firefighter), but in the pantheon of recent caddish behavior, he's hardly a standout.
At last tally, the Tiger Woods mistress count was up to nine. A new book about the 2008 presidential campaign dragged John Edwards' dalliances back into the spotlight, portraying the former presidential candidate as an insatiable egomaniac who fell for (and possibly fathered the child of) Rielle Hunter, who the authors suggest appealed to his messianic complex. Meanwhile, the author of a new biography of Warren Beatty crunches the numbers and estimates the actor bedded 12,775 women before finally marrying at the age of 54.
But the cad of the moment is Orszag -- not a famous athlete or an ego-driven candidate or a movie star. Orszag's profile, in fact, is more like a high school mathlete who, for reasons he cannot fathom, somehow ended up with two prom dates. That is to say, he's a nerd.
And there you have it -- of course he's a cad.
That's right, all you moms out there who tell your daughters to
"date the geeky guy; he'll grow up
to be a prince" -- think again. Geeks rule the planet now. They're rich. They're well connected (at least on Facebook). And guess what? They sometimes like to compensate for all those cheerleaders who ignored them by doing what they couldn't do in high school: dating as many hot women as they can -- and then dumping them.
Look, I can't say for certain that Orszag was a nerd in high school (hey, he might have been prom king), and so it's possible that he doesn't have all the qualities that fit that uniquely pernicious form of roguishness I'll call recovering-nerd syndrome. But let's face it, the era of the former high school quarterback as alpha male is rapidly coming to a close. It may be advantageous to be a football star while you're actually in high school, but these days, the game changes significantly after graduation. The brainiacs take over. And they date news correspondents who look like Penelope Cruz.
In other words, ladies, if you want a nice guy, a reliable guy, date the former high school quarterback, as long as he didn't turn into a Rhodes scholar too. He may not be heading up the budget office but, hey, he doesn't need to. He's got nothing to prove.