The XX Factor

Stimulation, Sidwell Style

The latest scandal unfolding at Sidwell Friends, the school the Obama children attend, confirms all your worst ideas about what elite private schools are like. It’s not the bare outlines of the story that are notable: James Huntington, the longtime school psychiatrist had an affair with Tara Newmyer, one of the married moms. That falls into the broad realm of human frailty. It could happen at any old school. But the details provide an alarming picture of the entitled, cynical outlook of a certain kind of very rich private school parent: According to the cuckolded husband’s complaint, the Newmyers disagreed about whether their daughter should go to the pre-kindergarten at Sidwell. At the time they lived in Florida, but the wife wanted her 5-year-old in the Obama daughters’ school. So they signed some kind of agreement that the mom would travel back and forth from Florida to Washington with the daughter every week. Then, the seduction. The psychiatrist got into Tara Newmyer’s pants by convincing her that her daughter, known as LN, was “highly advanced” and needed to be pulled out of class for extra enrichment. This is how you make upper-class moms swoon these days; tell them their kid is “special” and offer to hook them up with the reading specialist. Then, as I imagine happens in most affairs, the intimacy begins to alternate with standard work complaints. So here you have the school psychiatrist, in emails obtained by the husband, wanting to “masturbate in your face” while complaining about the eighth-grade girls in his office who are giggling about P.E. teachers who hit on them. Yuck.