by Bill Holmes
Once again we seem to have our priorities all wrong as our news media emphasizes the sensational rather than the important. I'm speaking of the uproar and indignation over the General David Petraeus “affair”. If you watch, read or listen to the news, this is the most important event in the world. As usual we not only get the alleged facts but the endless analysis from the talking head pundits. We have political, military, national security, CIA, relationship, sex and psychological experts plus the usual media blowhards weighing in on the situation. Forget that fiscal cliff nonsense, the ongoing recovery from Sandy, that little disagreement in Syria, the sluggish economy or a myriad of other real issues. We need to concentrate on two adults who had an affair. Probably not a great idea, but stuff happens. I'm sure it's the first time that has ever happened, particularly in Washington D.C. by a powerful person. Not satisfied with just dragging Petraeus and Paula Broadwell through the news cycle, we now have to also impugn the reputations of General John Allen and Jill Kelley based on possibly flirtatious emails. No proof of impropriety, just some pundits saying some of the emails could be interpreted as flirtatious. Sure glad I was never judged on that kind of evidence. I suspect the fact that it's TV sweeps month adds to the hyperbole.
Here is my take which is always the purpose of this blog. I don't care where Petraeus takes his pants off or for what reason. That's between him, his family and bosses. I can understand why the FBI investigated this when Jill Kelley brought the threatening emails to their attention. Petraeus was the CIA Director, one of the most sensitive positions in our government. The investigation was justified to determine if any secret or sensitive US information was being compromised. That's it. His private personal relationships are not anyones concern. One big mistake appears that the FBI or someone in the chain of command between them and the President failed to inform him of the investigation. I'm not naive enough to think this was an accident. The POTUS may have been secretly informed or wasn't so he could deny any knowledge during election season.
Obama could have refused to accept Petaeus's resignation and told him to go back to work at the CIA and do what he needed to fix or end his marriage. He also could have accepted the resignation if he wanted Petraeus out and still kept the reason out of the press. Many political appointees leave an administration in the second term. There is no reason any of this had to be made public. But no, those involved decided to throw Petraeus under the bus and virtually erase his outstanding military record. From now on the first paragraph written about General David Petraeus in any news story will refer to an adulterous affair that led to his CIA resignation. His good work as commander in Iraq, Afghanistan and US Central Command will be relegated to later in the article or report if at all.
My question is, do we have so many capable leaders in government that we can afford to throw them out because of a personal indiscretion? Why would anyone want to serve in government when every little detail of there life is under a microscope. Not only are they under constant scrutiny but they are held to impossible standards. One little slip of the tongue, brain or the zipper and we're ready to throw the bums out. It apparently makes no difference that they may have spent decades doing a wonderful job. Sure there are jerks that need to be run out of town but let's use a little common sense.
We haven't always conducted business this way. Just in my lifetime there have been rumors or more about Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton sexual activities. Countless members of Congress have had indiscretions. Over our 230+ years as a country there have been all kinds of scoundrels as leaders. There have been drunks, thieves, adulterers, mentally ill and a killer or two. Yes, Aaron Burr (VP at the time) killed Alexander Hamilton (first Sec. of Treas.) in a duel. Andrew Jackson killed a guy in a duel too. That didn't stop him from being elected president a few years later. Most of those guys skated because they were valued leaders. A few idiots tried to impeach Clinton, but he survived to have a very successful presidency and post term career. I suspect anything Congress could have done to punish Bill Clinton paled in comparison to the years of hell he's endured from Hillary.
I often hear that the US people are forgiving and that seems to be true if you are a celebrity or athlete that does drugs or abuses or cheats on their spouse. It might serve our country better if we extended that forgiveness to our leaders. I don't think we have enough good leaders in the public sector and with the current attitudes I don't hold much hope that we'll have an over abundance of them in the future.
From all accounts, David Pretaeus was an excellent general with 37 years of service in the Army. He had success in Iraq where several other commanders didn't. He championed and then led the US forces surge that seems to have turned the situation around. Sounds like the kind of person I might want on my team.
The title of this blog was Let He Who Is Without Sin... I hope we can be more tolerant and understanding of our fellow human beings. Those in the glass houses of congress and the press need a mirror, fewer stones and much less false indignation. I certainly can't throw stones and I doubt many of us can.
No stones here, just sadness that our country seems to have forgotten what is important. Thank you David for your service.