General Petraeus and scandal – questions to ask and lessons to learn

General Petraeus, dressed as a civilian as Director of Central Intelligence
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It can be hard to believe that a general who has reached the heights of his profession, like General Petraeus, could make such a fundamental error in judgment and succumb to a career-ending sexual encounter. Unfortunately, history is replete with such men who didn’t count the cost and fell to various and sundry feminine charms.

General Petraeus only the latest

Men, like King David falling for Bathsheba and Bill Clinton falling for damsels too numerous to mention, fill the pages of history with tawdry affairs. While it is also a disappointment, it is also salacious, which makes it newsworthy in our culture. Thus the large blocks of airwaves that are occupied with this affair are as much an indictment against us as against General Petraeus himself. Aside from General Petraeus’ owning up to this disgrace, nothing else quite makes sense. However, there are several interesting red flags that should be waived regarding this episode in history.

  • The oddity of the Administration appointing General Petraeus to this esteemed position when Petraeus had previously been a thorn in their side.
  • The logical assumption that the customary investigations and polygraph tests done on General Petraeus prior to his appointment as Director of the CIA should have revealed this affair.
  • The incredible timing of the revelation – just days before General Petraeus is to testify regarding Benghazi. (And after the election.)

Questions about the General Petraeus affair

General Petraeus, dressed as a civilian as Director of Central Intelligence

Official photo of David Petraeus, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Credit: Darren Livingston, CIA.

The red flags may not amount to much but they do lead to more questions, such as:

  • If the Administration knew about Petraeus’ affair and his vulnerability resulting from it, why did they appoint him to be CIA Director?
  • Did they appoint him knowing his vulnerability could be used to their advantage if and when needed – such as now?
  • Did they just want to remove him from a job where he performed with stellar ability?
  • Was it an attempt to silence his voice in the battlefield and opposition to the putative president?
  • Was it simply a case of a morally bereft Administration having little regard for such a character flaw?
  • Or did the Administration’s role take a back seat to a cat fight between Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelly?

Given that the transparency this Administration promised actually means no transparency, we may never know the answers to these questions. However, we are still morally and patriotically bound to ask them.

General Petraeus: still human

And may we never forget that the General, no matter how extraordinary he may be, is still just a human being like the rest of us after all. Therefore, before anyone starts throwing stones at him, I suggest they take a look at their own life first. They may not be adulterers, thieves, or murders but I’ll bet a dollar to a doughnut that they had disobeyed their parents at least once, told a lie somewhere to someone (little white lies count), worked on the Sabbath, took the Lord’s name in vain, wanted something that belonged to someone else, or broke no less than several of God’s commandments by the time they reached two-years-old. And that, my friend, makes them or you a sinner – like it or not. What has happened to Petraeus is a downright shame – for his career and his family. But unless you were born of a virgin, I suggest you put down the stone you may be thinking about throwing at him. He should have known better, but so should the rest of us sinners and we sin anyway. Now a man who is arguably the best in his profession can join the ranks of John Kennedy, Tiger Woods, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. We humans expect a lot of our heroes, but all too often we discover that Superman only exists in the comics and not in real life. Unfortunately, General Petraeus has proven to all of us that he is no Superman.