The political class of D.C. likes to complain that TV shows portraying the city as sexy and moody are unrealistic, so perhaps it’s appropriate that, for going on two years now, the sex life of the most mild-mannered New York Times columnist has been the subject of ceaseless speculation. Ever since the Washington Post reported David Brooks’s divorce from his wife of 27 years, Sarah, back in late 2013 (since disputed), countless stories and tweets have been written that use his personal life as a stick to beat his opinions with. At first, the tack was simply to wonder if a divorced man could still preach the virtues of family and marriage, but lately, as recent Brooks columns have meditated on love and leave-taking, speculation that he’s essentially writing about his divorce has become rampant.
Now Politico turns the gossip up another notch with a romp through the acknowledgments page of Brooks’s new book, The Road to Character, which apparently lavishes much praise on his former research assistant. When contacted to ask if the two had ever had a relationship, Brooks’s publicist offered up a classic present-tense denial. What’s next? Surprising revelations within Brooks’s footnotes?