As the media storm over David Petraeus’ sex scandal with biographer Paula Broadwell begins to subside, I find myself looking over all the blogs, YouTube videos, magazine articles, tweets, and gazillions of Facebook comments. So why get all riled up about this recent tawdry affair and its related biography? I mean, the fact that the Director of the CIA had (big air quotes) an affair is hardly novel. Get it? Novel … Biography…? (dead silence).
Part of it must be the sheer joy of spanking the monkey grin from (what little remains of) Broadwell’s reputation. I can’t say she doesn’t have it coming. Think about it: She’s great looking, has the bod of a Navy Seal supermodel (if there is such a thing), a toffee-nosed Harvard graduate, and (to top it all off) a New York Times bestselling author of a book she had ghostwritten for her. Jumping jealous Jehoshaphat, Batman! If you could have stepped into her shoes one day before the scandal broke—would you? Don’t lie! This was the kind of person that made every man, woman and child kowtow in respect: It was something we all dreamt about. Well, at least you did, I wager.
But as soon as the scandal broke, didn’t you want to just slug her? Oh, right. It’s not sporting to hit a lady. Well, didn’t you want to send her a nasty anonymous email? That’s perfectly acceptable, right?
But what about Petraeus? The same will not be said about him. Don’t get me wrong: things will be said, but he was at the top of his game, and has hordes of affluent (i.e., people who can make you disappear) supporters who will defend his reputation. In fact, given his status just before his book of revelation was, err, revealed, the ones most motivated to tar and feather him were his immediate family. With the news breaking just a week before thanksgiving, I’m sure they stuck in enough quills to make him look like Gobbler the Turkey. Though unlike that lucky bird, Petraeus was not pardoned by President Obama.
Maybe Gobbler and Petraeus could have switched places? Nah…
Anyway, if history is any indicator of the future, my money is on a quick comeback for Petraeus. No? Take President Clinton’s example. He’s in the same league of (cough, cough) extraordinary gentlemen, someone who needlessly screwed up his life. But look at him now. Other than making himself a top brand name, I see no long-term damage. Sadly, I predict for same jaunty future for our good General.
But the issue in the end is not infidelity, morality, honesty or even imbecilic career suicide. Nope. It’s about simple transparency. See, it’s like this. Young folks out there (you know, generation couch potato) don’t much value a person’s moral character. If you want to be promiscuous or squander relationships willy-nilly, go right ahead. They don’t care. In fact, they’ll jump right in and help you screw things up faster. Just one itsy-bitsy thing is required: you must share your exploits on the Internet. The whole shebang; the whole nine yards; the full metal jacket! Uhm…you know what I mean. And if you can do that, well, no matter how bad your behavior is, the public will eventually forgive you for being human. Because in the end, you are just that: human.
That’s what our older generation of leaders don’t get (and, by the way, I think Broadwell’s Harvard groomed ego lets her see herself in that class). They want to be human, but portray themselves outwardly as Herculean gods, who don’t even poop like wee little mortals. What, you think you’re some kind of gift to mankind? Sorry, you two, but you’re not. And the public is going to make you eat your own poop over it.