Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shame On You, General.

When Bill Clinton was famously caught using a cigar inappropriately with Monica Lewinsky in the oval office, many seasoned observers thought that we had reached a new low in public, high profile adultery. Never before, they said, had such a powerful man been caught engaging in such reprehensible behavior while holding high office. Well, the lesson here is to never say never.

Over the past few years, the American people have been treated to the indignity of:

Arnold Schwarzenegger having a love child with his maid.

Governor Mark Sanford leaving his wife and four kids for a hot Brazilian commodity broker.

Senator John Edwards having a love child with a campaign worker while his wife was dying of cancer.

Congressman Anthony Weiner sending nude pictures of himself to some random college girl from Seattle while his wife was pregnant.


And now to this list of dubious distinction, we can add Four Start General David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, having an affair with his biographer who just happens to be voluptuous and twenty years his junior. The General’s wife of 38 years, Holly, is reported to be devastated by this news and not very happy with the former US commander in Afghanistan. Lucky for Petraeus, he had to good sense to hold off consummating his relationship with Paula Broadwell until after he had accepted the CIA directorship job since adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

What to make of all this? First of all, one should never conjure up a convoluted explanation when a simpler one will do, that is, men are pigs. On the other hand, what do all these incidents have in common? All of them are powerful, accomplished men. All of them except Petraeus would be considered at least reasonably handsome. For those of you who have googled a picture of Anthony Weiner…I am grading on a curve. All of these men are were married to older women, and all of them fell for a much younger, hotter version of their wives. And finally, all of them have careers that grant them lots of opportunities to cheat. Each have jobs that require lots of travel, an enormous amount of time apart from their families, especially in the case of the General. But there is one thing that sets the Petraeus case apart from the rest. The first five men on this list are politicians. As such, I expect a certain level of sliminess, a certain amount of amoral opportunism. In my mind, any political figure in this country with anything approaching real power, I suspect them of infidelity already. But General Petraeus is one of the highest ranking and most celebrated officers of his generation. He comes from an institution that promotes real talent and achievement. You don’t become a four star because your Daddy made a lot of money. To become a leader of men at his level, you must have demonstrated genuine leadership skills, and a level of discipline unfathomable for most of us. What happened to honor? What of honesty? What of integrity?

All of these adulterers are miserable failures as men, but for me, the General is the worst. I expect nothing in the way of honor from my politicians so I’m seldom disappointed by them. But I expect better from Four Star Generals. There’s a reason that adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It’s because it reveals a lack of judgment, loyalty, and honor.

Shame on you, General.