A ruthless covert intelligence employee, who defends the Western civilization, uses questionable tactics against the enemy and has multiple women lusting for him, has flooded my Twitter and Facebook newsfeed. No, I’m not describing Skyfall; I’m talking about Gen. David Petraeus, now the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency.
I am not justifying Petraeus sleeping with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. But why should he have to resign for it? What happened between him and his mistresses is his personal life. The only person that gets to punish him is his wife. America has no business in his personal life. He was a man who turned around the Iraq war and found considerable success in Afghanistan as the leader. His accomplishments led him to the CIA, and we should not allow his personal transgressions stand in the way of the nation having the best man for the job.
There is a cycle in America: A popular man cheats on his wife, a media trial begins, the media condemn his behavior, late-night comedians have a field day and the person slowly fades into oblivion after losing his dignity, employment and apologizing to the public and pledging to be with their family in the tough times. Tiger Woods, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, Mark Sanford and Elliot Spitzer — take your pick. These men have all been tried for a crime, which isn’t illegal: cheating.
Before people begin writing me angry emails, I’ll say that I don’t condone the behavior. I have never cheated and would never cheat. I can’t say what drove Petraeus to cheat, but can we please do away with the media trials and resignations over cheating — especially when they are good at their job?
Bronwyn Miller’s Nov. 19 column talked about dishonesty as a characteristic we don’t want to see in a leader. But wasn’t Petraeus’ job as CIA director to keep things secret anyway? The CIA funded guns to Mexican cartels, has hits on foreign nationals and U.S. citizens suspected of terror. Honestly, the fact that he kept his secret for this long, if anything, may prove him a decent man for the job.
Why do men cheat? This is a question that is always answered in daytime talk shows like ABC’s “The View.” Fantasies, perversion and lack of morality are often speculated. But why can’t we just acknowledge that it is human nature, no matter what Dr. Phil says. A man who was in a war for the majority of his life, away from his wife and family, would definitely be tempted at some point. For all we know, it was a loveless marriage. What two consenting adults may have done on a military base isn’t my business and it is certainly not yours.
We need to realize that personal lives aren’t our concern. The extraneous things people do in their personal lives should not be held against them as long as it is not criminal. Yes, cheating is horrible and was highly disrespectful to his wife, but to me, as a citizen, it is much more important that Petraeus was doing his job, and there seems to be no evidence to the contrary.
If there is any scandal in this situation, it is the power of the FBI to investigate a citizen’s personal life. FBI agents read a private citizen’s email and no one is talking about it? This is far from Patriot Act territory; this is a young-adult drama. The story is an example of something potentially criminal that we should be focusing on, despite the sexy, provocative story that we see on the front page of every newspaper or website.
I think we need to redirect our moral compass as a people. We are all flawed individuals. We need to let this scandal, the next one and the one after that go and pledge not to waste our time and efforts in indicting extramarital sex.