DOTHAN, AL, November 14, 2012 — I want to personally thank the Democrats for having the best scandals and keeping the news interesting. Over time they have proven to be a fairly lusty bunch, and following their affairs is considerably more fun than following Republicans with their boring misconduct in the financial world. As any fan of soap operas can tell you, sex sells more air time than complicated bank scams. Plus, it’s something everyone can understand and relate to on some level.
Men will absolutely deny it, but whenever a sex scandal breaks out the first thing they do is check out pictures of the woman involved and start talking with each other about whether she was worth it or not. The regulars at my favorite corner establishment regard Ernie the bartender as quite the expert on women, despite his salami breath, hairy back and being divorced three times.
He rated Paula Broadwell as “strictly eh” and the patrons at the bar were mostly in agreement. There was also a lot of chatter about what Mrs. Petraeus would probably do to the General, which seemed to remind a lot of the guys that they needed to be home early that evening.
I remember being told, many years ago, that if a married man decides to have an affair with another woman then he needs to make very sure she is a lot better that what he already has. As silly or sexist as that may sound, that little bit of advice also serves as a pretty good barometer of just how stupid my gender can be.
Gen. Petraeus is 60 years old. Any single, unmarried man that age knows the best reason to pursue a woman is because she is a world class cook, a geriatrics nurse or at least someone who won’t kick you to the couch for snoring. Married men, including the General, don’t seem to get it.
Also, since Petraeus hasn’t yet figured any of that out, he is obviously not qualified to head a federal agency that creates, holds and covers up America’s top secrets. His boss obviously failed to explain that “handling foreign affairs” did not mean “go have one.” Who mentored Petraeus for the CIA job anyway, Bill Clinton? Of course the most obvious danger from any top official having an extramarital affair is the potential for leaking state secrets, something that is handled directly by the White House these days.
Now it comes out that the current top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, may have had questionable email conversations with a military groupie in Tampa who organizes social functions for senior staffers. “Questionable” is polite media speak for “dirty.”
To make this even more interesting, Gen. Allen was just nominated by President Obama to be the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, with confirmation hearings still to come, and I suppose the Republicans will pounce on him with ravenous, tooth-flashing hunger like a zombie horde in The Walking Dead.
Afghanistan seems to present a real staffing problem for our commander in chief. He fired Gen. McKiernan in 2009 for wanting to use strategy, he fired Gen. McChrystal in 2010 for sarcasm, Gen. Petraeus just resigned from scandal and then an FBI investigation involved Gen. Allen as well. To make it even worse, those recalcitrant FBI agents wouldn’t tell the president about any of it until after the election. You just can’t find good help these days.
Some of the media coverage of Gen. Petraeus has speculated on why great men are often prone to having extramarital affairs. I would politely suggest that if they had affairs they probably weren’t really all that great, at least on a personal level. Even the “new normal” crowd tends to take a dim view of betraying one’s spouse, regardless of gender, race or species, except possibly in the case of former President Clinton who seems more adored than ever. Despite what the media analyses may suggest, it’s not a complex issue at all. The simple reason why men, great or otherwise, have affairs is “sex.” Duh.
After a long, miserable election we might finally have something the whole nation can re-unite over — the fall from grace of yet another man who reached a lofty position of power and forgot why he was put there in the first place.
Americans from both red and blue states love success stories, but we also love stories about leaders and celebrities who mess up. Petraeus fits the profile and I foresee books and television movies coming out of all this, just the thing to spice up an otherwise dull TV schedule during the cold winter months.
It doesn’t seem that Petraeus or Broadwell leaked any important secrets, so the biggest victim in all this is the general’s wife. Besides caring for Petraeus and raising his children, Holly Petraeus is well known for helping military families struggling with banking problems and mortgage foreclosures. She is intelligent, well-educated and seems to have some spare time on her hands in case the president is looking for a replacement to head the CIA. I have yet to meet any woman who raised kids who couldn’t readily handle a bunch of devious spies and sneaky politicians.
If we are going to insist on fewer moral and ethical restrictions as the “new normal” for the rest of society, then it’s about time we all stop acting so shocked when those in the public eye are caught in a sex scandal – though admittedly it does make for great drama and I’m keeping my DVR set to “record.”
(Watch for the backstory on this and future articles at the It’s About Time Blog.)
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