- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 7, 2009

As a former lawyer and CNN’s high-powered deputy political director, Alex Wellen might be the last person you’d think of to pen a romance novel, but such is the case, and better yet, the tome has the girly title “Lovesick.”

Mr. Wellen, who has been in the Washington bureau since 2005 and helped lead the network’s award-winning 2008 election coverage, is man enough to take the taunts that may come his way.

In fact, he tells G2 that love and romance are popular subjects behind closed doors in CNN’s Situation Room.

“All of the anchors around here have sensitive sides,” Mr. Wellen intimates. “Wolf Blitzer is one of the nicest guys in the world. You should have seen him at his daughter’s wedding.”

Mr. Wellen, who is married to Kris, a former MTV veejay, explains, “I never thought of myself as a touchy-feely guy, but wanted to write a novel about how so many men want to get married and are not kicking and screaming to avoid marriage. Wanting to get married and being masculine are not mutually exclusive.”

In the book, Mr. Wellen’s protagonist is Andy Altman, who works in a small-town pharmacy and nurses a love sickness for Paige Day. The only problem is, he can’t seem to win over his overbearing boss, who happens to be Paige’s protective pop.

A prolific writer, Mr. Wellen also is the author of “Barman,” a nonfiction memoir, but this is his first novel, and he is taking the “Lovesick” theme to the max.

On Thursday night, he and other CNN VIPs will toast the book at a party at Quigley’s Pharmacy in Northwest and wash down their congratulations not with manly man beers but with “Lovesick Potion No. 9s.”

From Russia with style

Displaying the maturity to stick with what works, the Obama girls maintained their much-publicized allegiance to J. Crew yesterday.

G2 has learned that the sophisticated trench coats seen on Malia and Sasha Obama as they deplaned Air Force One in Moscow were from the popular mall mainstay.

Malia’s “silk taffeta trench,” which she paired with Michellesque ballet flats, cost $298, and Sasha’s “crushed twill trench” put her piggy bank back $169.

His and hers

Far be it from us to stir up marital discord, but we noticed some disparities — some BIG disparities — in the salaries of staffers for President Obama and his first lady, Michelle.

Mr. Obama’s Press Secretary Robert L. Gibbs, for example, makes the top White House salary of $172,000 a year. His counterpart in Mrs. Obama’s office, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, makes less than half that at $84,000.

Mr. Obama’s deputy chiefs of staff, such as James Messina and Mona Sutphen make $ 172,000, but Mrs. Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff David Medina settles for $90,000.

The president’s trusted director of scheduling and advance, Alyssa Mastromonaco, gets the prize salary of $172,000, but her opposite number over in the FLOTUS office, Frances Starkey, makes nearly $100,000 less at $75,000.

We understand, of course, that working in the West Wing carries with it more responsibility and prestige than working in the East Wing — but are the president’s men TWICE as valuable and hardworking as his wife’s?

Mr. Obama’s senior advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett also rake in $172,000, but Mrs. O’s director of policy and projects, Jocelyn Frye, makes $140,000, and her special assistants Camille Johnston and Melissa Winter make $102,000.

Doing only slightly better is party planner and Washington “It” girl, White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, who makes $113,000 a year.

How can she afford all those designer duds we see her wearing on that salary?

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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