The fall from grace is now officially a cliché.
Who’s the latest contestant on Can You Salvage Any Shred Of Dignity?
Why it’s the retired 4-star Army General, recent Director of the CIA, and husband of 37 years to Holly, General! David! Petraeus!
Ladies and gentlemen, tell GDP what he’s won!
It’s an all-inclusive stay in Purgatory, where the first chapters of your cautionary tale will be written. Activities include waving good-bye to your whispered ascent to the presidency (either of Princeton or the USA), hiding out from reporters, and providing uncomfortable testimony before Congress. Airfare to Hell and back provided by Whip Whitaker.
General Petraeus is a West Point graduate with advanced degrees from Princeton. He oversaw the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and resigned from the military in 2011 to head up the CIA. He was a notorious stickler for order, discipline, and comportment.
Paula Broadwell met Petraeus when she was a Harvard graduate student working on a dissertation about…Petraeus. Thanks to his “open door policy,” Broadwell gained increasing access to the general, and her dissertation became a biography of him. She visited him in Afghanistan and stayed “in contact” with him after he joined the CIA. Contact, indeed.
From access to “unprecedented” access to carnal access: Broadwell and Petraeus began having an affair. And Broadwell made sure there were no border disputes.
When Jill Kelley, a Petraeus family friend, seemed a bit too friendly, Broadwell allegedly sent anonymous emails telling Kelley to back off. Kelley, meanwhile, was engaging in Questionable Emailing with Petraeus’ replacement in Afghanistan, General John Allen. He apparently received a few harassing emails himself. They compared notes. Kelley decided they were victims of cyber-stalking, and alerted her friend in the FBI. Pandora’s box was opened.
The smarty-smart, order-loving, prideful Petraeus had documented his cheating ways on this super-secret thing called Gmail. With a point and a click, the FBI discovered his affair with Broadwell. Thud.
Petraeus has resigned from the CIA and Allen’s NATO promotion is on hold. It’s not clear that anything more than 4 marriages was ever at stake; however, both the military and intelligence communities have strict policies against adultery (they point to risks about “distractions” or “political fall-out” or something). And so here we are. Thud.
President Clinton, meet Monica, enjoy impeachment! Mr. Spitzer, here’s your bill for her services, hope you don’t miss being Governor of New York. Hey Governator, that kid you had behind Maria’s back with your “household employee” is a teenager now…wanna star in The Expendables 2? Dear Senator Edwards, you’re up a kid, down a wife, and out of a career. Congressman Weiner, please exit stage left as soon as you hit “send.”
These men ask us to trust them with the highest offices in the land, and ultimately prove they shouldn’t be trusted with alone time or portable technology. We could devote a separate website to the debate over whether the American public should care about these short-comings. Today, the fact is that when you’re in public life, your private life comes too.
It is puzzling, to put it mildly, that these philandering men don’t see that, or choose not to see that. Book-smart and singularly driven, they nonetheless get side-tracked by the adoring, upturned face or the easy, cheap thrill. The power of their power goes to their head, then to their pants, and then it goes away.
We are dozens of Will Ferrell spoofs away from ridding America of its prudish leadership requirements. Scandals give the media something to talk about, the other side something to scream about, and Europe something to feel superior about. Let’s just accept, for present purposes, that a national attitude adjustment is not the solution to Cheater’s Syndrome.
Instead, fellows, gather around the ego cooler and listen up. Here are 10 sure-fire ways to avoid becoming the next disgrace of Biblical and/or Shakespearean proportions:
- Accept the fact that if you do anything stupid, you will get caught.
- Try not to do anything stupid.
- Don’t cheat on your spouse – that is stupid.
- If you do something stupid, don’t involve a video, a picture, or a written record.
- Don’t get married unless you’re willing to have sex with only that person ‘til death parts you.
- If death starts feeling too far off, go to therapy or get a divorce.
- Don’t hold yourself out as perfect. No one is.
- Don’t believe you’re that awesome. You’re not.
- Don’t think the rules don’t apply to you. They do.
- Remember, you will get caught.
Behave accordingly, gentlemen.
Image via Loveit.com