Generals Gone Wild

General Petraeus - gone wild  :

I’ve been reluctant to write on this Petraeus stuff and wasn’t sure why that was so. I am now. I just don’t care. I really don’t.

Maybe there’s something I’m just not seeing in this story of cheating 4-star generals and their equally unfaithful email-loving women…but whatever it is, I still don’t care. That said, and without any attempt to excuse the behavior of any of the players in this sordid tale, here’s something to think about.

That’s the thing about Petraeus. He isn’t some sort of paragon of virtue as people on the right want to claim, nor is he just business as usual in his abuse of power and position as some on the left seem to believe. There is something unique about him and what he’s done, and I just wish people would look at the situation essentially sui generis rather than as confirmation of one worldview or another.

There is a perception, I think, that general officers are  swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life. And sure, there are some like that, but in my experience, general officers are about as far from that stereotype as possible. They are usually driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish. Whether they went to the service academies or ROTC, they rarely had time to party even as undergrads. They often marry young, have kids young, and spend much of their time either deployed or struggling to pay attention to their families when they are home.  They are, in short, often nerds (in a good way), and they are not always well-equipped emotionally to deal with the kind of attention they begin to attract as they rise in rank, and particularly as they pin on stars. General Allen, for instance, has a reputation as a serious, bookish guy. Now maybe he’s a serial cheater, and Jill Kelley was just another actual or potential conquest, but more likely, in my estimation, is that he just didn’t quite know how to handle her attention. I dunno, but I think it worth keeping in mind that possibility.


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18 thoughts on “Generals Gone Wild

  1. via Facebook

    Why? Because all the people we’ve been led to beleive we should revere and hold up on pedastools are proving to be extremely unworthy of that illusion, military leaders, religious leader, politicians, etc etc. It just goes to show, things are not what they seem.

  2. I hear you, Marco…but the real issue here is why people still hold their leaders in reverence. They’re simply humans with all of the flaws of mere mortals. There is no reason for anyone but their loved ones to act shocked when they fall prey to their weaker side.

  3. I have Generals in my family and I can assure you they are far from the stereotype. They are hard working, God loving, Big family men. Proud they are in my family. Sure there will always be a few bad apples to tarnish the rest, but like you said Mario, they are really hard working men.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with you Mario. As long as they’re not abusing their power or breaking laws I don’t really care what they do in their personal lives. I felt the same way about Bill Clinton, I voted for him for president, not pope.

  5. I’ve come to realize the truth of your words Mario…but only as I age. There was a chorus of those who felt in ’08 and likely still feel that “neither candidate deserves to be PRESIDENT”, as if there’s a magical, mystical hero among us who is uniquely qualified. Same goes for anyone else we decide to elevate to pedestal status.
    Me, I take the best of what’s offered. I mean that as no slight to this President, whom I have seen grow beautifully into the role as Leader of the Free World. What I mean is that THERE IS NO HERO…not even among our favorites from history, which tends to paint with a fairy’s brush.
    The rest of the story is as you say…that any President, General, Teacher, Religious Leader comes to the job with their past in their suitcase…complicated, curious, deliberate, yet far from perfect. Who he or she surrounds himself/herself with is at least as important. Their character comes through, they grow and develop as their “term” goes forward, and we see we’ve either “anointed” a LEADER or a buffoon.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with Doris Kearns Goodwin, one of my favorite historians, who proclaimed the current “affair” a tragedy…and hopes we can find a way to allow our elected/appointed officials to have a PRIVATE private life unless and until it impacts our security.
    I can dream up what my limits might be, what is offensive to me, but essentially agree that, as Charlie remarks, we elect our leaders, like Clinton, to their posts, not as GOD. (I have to disagree with POPE…they’re human too!)
    Clinton is a great example…he fell out of favor with many yet has been resurrected as an icon of not only for the Dem Party but as a leader among the philanthropic.
    Just proves again that we are all imperfect, complicated creatures…and isn’t that nice!

  7. I think there’s an aspect here that’s being overlooked.

    What about integrity, respect, accountability, honesty and all the other tenets required by those in positions of power? They have a responsibility to abide by a higher standard than regular civilians. This higher standard is there for many reasons; they open themselves to blackmail, personal attacks, espionage, spying, poor role models, and a host of other possibilities. Police and military are both held to a similar standard for the benefit of the public they serve. If they can’t live up to that standard, they either need to quit or be fired.

    For example, would you want someone who’s broken the law or has serious disgraceful conduct incidents on their record, that have been entrusted with the position of peace officer, in court with charges against you? This is why testimony from officers with criminal backgrounds, or disgraceful conduct, presents serious reliability issues for the prosecution.

    A man like Petraeus has an incredible amount of responsibility that commensurates with his level of power. If he can’t act responsibly, he shouldn’t be in power and the President is the one that needs to enforce this policy at that level. To do otherwise flies in face of the force they faithfully serve.

  8. Most humans are looking for someone to look up to and even to revere, so we create them. When our heroes then prove to be only human we are shocked, blame them for not living up to our expectations and knock them down just the way we lifted them up. Hero worship seems to be in our DNA and who can live up to all of the public’s ideas of how a hero should behave? A lot of people will take Petraeus’s transgressions personally, they feel as if he did it to them down in some way.

  9. If your going to start to cheat, its better to get divorced, you can’t have your cake and eat it to, now he lost his job and maybe his wife, people are more forgiving if you come clean, they can understand you fall out of love, they will never understand cheating, because we have all been betrayed at one time and it revokes bad feelings and or memories.

  10. The 4 star generals’ personal lives are not my concern but unfortunately will concern those close to them. But I am still waiting to see how this puzzle will fall in place. If they gave these wenches too much security clearance, then a serious breach has been created and we have to find out what they have in their computers. I remember a certain interview with Broadwell that she had too much information about policy.

    When you are part of four star generals,your human side may extend beyond the duty to serve. When you consider yourself as being all powerful and above all,then your compass may lose the north and go south. They should always keep reporters and biographers at arms length.

    Kennedy fell,Clinton fell,Tiger Woods fell and a lot more will fall because of human frailty. It applies to four star generals. Let’s make sure that groin activity does not involve demeanors on the security front.

  11. I get that this men are deemed to be “icons of virtue” and all else that comes with their positions, but I have an additional point of view.

    These women are obviously NOT “wenches” and not enough has been made by THEIR role in the subtle seduction of these “driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish nerds” that are our Generals.

    These are not naive, small town, young ladies, that have become star struck by the stars on a uniform. These are married, highly educated, highly sophisticated and attractive women who have obviously learned how to use ALL of those traits to further their careers and/or stations in life.

    And there is nothing more potentially dangerous to a man, married or not, than the full blown focus and attention given to these type of men by such women. As can be seen, the Greatest of Men have fallen to the beckon of the songs of the Sirens:

    “The Sirens sang when they approached, their words even more enticing than the melody. They would give knowledge to every man who came to them, they said, ripe wisdom and a quickening of the spirit. Odysseys’ heart ran with longing but the ropes held him and the ship quickly sailed to safer waters (Odyssey XII, 39). ”

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe women are God’s greatest gift to man, unfortunately, societal standards (perhaps for better or worse) has set the limit to only one such “gift” per person at a time.

    Men…tie yourself to the mast with ropes ! ; -)

  12. “These are married, highly educated, highly sophisticated and attractive women who have obviously learned how to use ALL of those traits to further their careers and/or stations in life.

    Goldensun, with all due respect, how do you know this to be case with these two women? You might very well be right, but what knowledge to you possess that would have you believe that Paula Broadwell used her pretty face to further her career? That is quite an assumption you’re making…and a dangerous one.

    @Rank. I did not say that there should be no repercussions regarding behavior. I’m just saying that in the case of David Patraeus, I don’t care who he sleeps with in terms of this being a newsworthy story.

  13. My dear Mario, my statement was not meant to reflect that beauty was their ONLY trait, as you quoted I also included “highly educated, highly sophisticated” that made them successful, and it goes along with documented studies that attractive people are potentially more successful BECAUSE of that trait.

    According to Daniel Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas at Austin:
    “Studies have shown that attractive people are usually hired sooner, get promotions more quickly, and are paid more than their less-attractive coworkers.
    Attractive people earn an average of 3 or 4 percent more than people with below-average looks.”

    According to an article in Psychology Today by Dario Maestripieri, a professor of comparative human development, evolutionary biology, and neurobiology at the University of Chicago:
    “Beautiful people tend to bring in more money for their companies, and are therefore seen as more valuable employees and harder workers.”

    On another note – it is documented that people that are “Tall” have a higher success rate.
    The ‘assumption” that one would “dumb” down their beauty or tallness in achieving success in their careers, is surprisingly naive.

    Lastly, my inference was NOT that Paula or women in general are undeserving of their success but rather, that to classify them as “wenches” which is defined as –
    “1. A young woman or girl, especially a peasant girl.
    2. A woman servant.
    3. A wanton woman.”

    is potentially MORE dangerous.

  14. @Goldensun

    I understand what it is you were saying and, for the most part, agree with you. My only point here is that while you are correct in stating that studies indicate that good-looking people tend to ‘succeed’ at a better rate than others, mentioning the physical looks of a person in the same sentence that speaks of their success takes away from the other qualities that led to that person’s success (hard work and intelligence).

    You make a solid point with me referring to the women as “wenches”. Do I believe they’re wenches? No, not at all. My illustrations tend to be satirical in nature and I was playing on the ‘War of the Roses’ theme. I also don’t believe that the generals in question have gone “wild”. A more honest wording of what transpired would be: “Generals Being Human“, but that would be way too boring.

    But I know you already knew all of this. Thanks, Golden. Your input is always a great read.

  15. Dear Mario,

    “mentioning the physical looks of a person in the same sentence that speaks of their success takes away from the other qualities that led to that person’s success”

    Too bad, I was going to say you were “intelligent, informative, talented and good-looking”.
    Guess I’ll leave out the “good-looking” – LOL

    Peace Brother ;-)

  16. Meanwhile, the Republicans are trying to magnify this into something they can use against the President, even with impeachment in mind. But notice the scandals they are using for comparison: Watergate (Republican scandal); Iran-Contra (another Republican scandal). They’d love to find an Obama angle to make it possible to shout “Lewinsky! Lewinsky!”, but so far, that dog don’t hunt.

  17. Poor old John McCain and his puppet, Lindsey Graham. I hate seeing people at the end of their productive lives turn into assholes. There’s such unabridged antagonism, resentment in McCain…too bad he never learned forgiveness techniques, likely dying an angry man. It’s a shame.
    They’ll be booed as obstructionist and uncompromising and seen for their sham, at least by Obama voters who voted for an end to the games.

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