David Petraeus affair is his family’s business
Marcus Clem | Collegio Writer
Is a 60-year-old man having a sexual relationship with a woman 20 years his junior a story?
Is there anything surprising or shocking about this? Is the man, even if he is married, in the world we live in t
oday or before, committing some grave and unheard of sin? Is the woman wrong to pursue an older man? Does the marriage in question even matter in terms of the public interest?
If you don’t tell anyone any other details about this scenario, I predict that nine times out of 10, the average person will pay it no mind. The reason is simple: Sex is a matter that concerns the two people involved and their families if infidelity is a factor. We have moved beyond the time, a time when ironically, public officials were free to engage in affairs (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy) but sex in general was a “bad thing.” That mentality is irrelevant to our society today.
Unless the man in question is the director of the CIA and a celebrated war hero.
Suddenly, all of that privacy, all of that progressive, positive approach to sexual relations between consenting adults goes out the window. It’s a scandal. A person with the public’s trust (something that exists entirely in perception; nobody ever voted for David Petraeus) betrayed his wife! How, the simplistic idiot who really buys into this garbage asks, can he be trusted with anything else?
I do not endorse the actions of David Petraeus, the celebrity-general made spymaster who resigned in “disgrace” last week after his affair with his personal confidante and biographer Paula Broadwell, came to light. I disregard them. The reason is simple: The consequences of Gen. Petraues’ actions, unless it is revealed that his personal affairs somehow compromised his job performance, simply don’t matter to anyone except one Holly Petraeus, his wife of 37 years.
Instead of fretting over what Petraeus did in his bedroom, Americans should remember what Petraeus did as a leader. He is widely recognized as the greatest military officer of his generation, and perhaps of the modern era. He salvaged catastrophic situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reorganized the U.S. military to fight with precision and effectiveness, and created alliances with noncombatants versus suppressing them, saving lives all around. And he has started to turn the CIA into a paramilitary organization that has kept those who seek to do us harm constantly on the run.
All of that is neutralized and thrown into the dustbin of history because he slept with someone other than his wife? Are these really the kind of politics that we want to have? Can we truly not forgive and forget, or even better, never pay attention to personal matters at all? Can the news media not find stories of higher caliber and greater concern? From Bill Clinton to John Edwards, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford to David Petraeus, we continue to see qualified leaders lost to the gossip column illegitimately expanded to the front page.
I sympathize with Holly Petraeus. Being betrayed by the man you have loved and supported for almost 40 years must be a grave personal challenge. But we all have our crosses to bear, and this one should be borne by the Petraeus family alone. As a nation, we have too many problems to solve, too many issues to confront, too much suffering to end to throw away good leaders because of what they do in their personal lives. Forget Petraeus’ infidelity. Remember his decades of honorable and exemplary service to this country and to us all.