If it turns out that Washington men have their own madam -- with a stable of college-educated call girls -- then it makes sense that she would look like the many anonymous staffers who are paid to keep these men's schedules and -- for a time -- their secrets.And that's what Palfrey did.
By the way, do you have a problem with the word "madam" to refer to what Palfrey is accused of? Dictionary definition:
abbr. Mdm. 1. Inflected forms: pl. Mes·dames (m-dm, -däm) Used formerly as a courtesy title before a woman's given name but now used only before a surname or title indicating rank or office: Madam Ambassador. 2. Used as a salutation in a letter: Dear Madam or Sir. 3. madam Used as a form of polite address for a woman: Right this way, madam. 4. madam The mistress of a household. 5. madam A woman who manages a brothel.My problem isn't that a word that is supposed to embody respect for women has gotten associated with something degrading. That is the ordininary way language develops. I'm trying to think of other examples of the way a lofty word must be brought down. Help me out here. I'm thinking of naming the dog "King," saying "You're a prince" to a jerk, and calling a young woman with a ridiculous sense of entitlement a "princess."
My problem with the use of the word is that a madam is supposed to "manage a brothel," to have a household relationship with the workers. Connecting people up by telephone and email isn't the same.