After a near-perfect military career, General Patraeus hits a snag

More’s the pity. As my colleague Jason Easley recently pointed out, CIA Director and distinguished General, David Petraeus, has resigned. Like so many human power dynamos before him, four-star Army General Dave was apparently caught email-tabloid style “In flagrante delicto” with not one, but possibly two younger maidens (OK, God knows how many).

You can survive public opinion censure from such indiscretions. President’s Kennedy and Johnson made a move on every female who moved. We all know Bill Clinton’s story. Incredibly, he recovered from his near impeachment, blue dress-stained, Monica, Jennifer era of the ’90’s to be accorded “Most trusted man” in 2012. More than any one single individual campaigning for Barack Obama, it was Bill Clinton with his populist drawl and mass appeal with men and women alike, who was responsible for Obama’s return to the White House.

Some other high-profile politicians weren’t so lucky. Gary Hart was never forgiven for his dalliance with ‘No excuses’ Jean’s model, Donna Rice. Who’ll ever forget ‘Monkey Business?” In recent times, potential Congressional prospects for starring roles in ‘Cheaters’ (The greatest TV show of all time), garnered little sympathy for their self-induced sexual scandals. And, Lord, don’t even get me started on John Edwards.

So, letting the nether regions do your thinking for you is a dangerous high-wire act. You might get away with it or you might get blown, Karl Wallenda-style, off the wire. With Petraeus it’s too early to tell. If there were any serious intelligence compromises, future political aspirations are rendered non-existent. David Howell Petraeus was on the fame track from his first years as an academically gifted West Point Cadet. He acquired a slew of high-falutin awards and earned a Princeton PhD before I even knew what G-spot meant. And he had the good career sense to marry the West Point Superintendent’s daughter, Holly Knowlton. At last report, she’s standing by her man. His subsequent military career couldn’t have been more like Ike. One resounding success after another.

As Jason pointed out, Petraeus described himself as a moderate Republican. The GOP brain trust had visions of Republican Vice Presidential, even Presidential Petraeus sugar plums dancing in their heads. Ironically, the aforementioned Holly occupies an important position in the ‘couldn’t be more Democratic, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren’s baby, currently headed by Rich Cordray. As the GOP skulks to the center, that would have been the perfect Petraeus’ position storm in a national election.

So, this is the definitive moderate the Republicans lusted after. Unfortunately, at the same time, the General was apparently lusting after one Paula Broadwell, not to mention another gal who seemed to make Broadwell jealous. While not quite on a par with the Petraeus CV, the married 40-year-old mom, Broadwell is not that far behind. She too graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and went on to earn two Master’s degrees, one from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She was also working on her PhD, though it’s not clear whether she finished those studies.

She’s a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve and a respected expert on counter-terrorism. So far, so good. Her story took on its tabloid dimensions before, during and after Broadwell co-authored a Patraeus biography. In the crude vernacular, her subject started bedding her. In the process, he gave her forbidden access to certain highly classified CIA documents and locales according to press reports.

To make things worse, Broadwell turned out to be a possessive mistress. She grew suspicious that the General was spreading the love to someone named Jill Kelley, who is also married with children. Kelley is a social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Social, indeed! Paula apparently sent nasty emails to Kelley, telling her to, “stop having an affair with the man I’m having an affair with”, (not an actual quote, but I’ll bet I’m close). Wasn’t there a Paula troublemaker in the Clinton saga as well?

Petraeus seems to favor a certain type of woman for his selfish recreation. Broadwell and Kelley could be sisters. Both are dark-haired and near the same age, Broadwell is 40, Kelley, 37. They’re attractive and probably won Miss Muskrat, or some such title in their early 20’s. As for Holly, there’s a lot of the late Elizabeth Edwards in her. Cuties when they first caught their eventual mate’s eye, both morphed into what most of us morph into in our later years. Not quite so cute, a few extra lbs’, well past the mini-skirt cycle and aged by responsibility, work and child-raising. The net effect being that two wonderful ladies were physically unable to compete with willing groupies, many years the junior of their big-shot husbands (11 years in Edwards case, 20 and 23 years for Petraeus if the Kelley tryst is true).

If this unseemly incident accomplishes one thing, it’s a certain type of bi-partisanship.
The Chairs of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are braying for full hearings into the matter. Dianne Feinstein, head of the latter committee is really pushing the issue. She might want to keep the hearings open and check out her husband, Richard Blum. He was the majority stockholder in two firms with huge Iraq contracts. Blum benefited by multiple millions of dollars from Feinstein votes that enriched both firms.

But I digress. There should be hearings. This mess could actually be serious. The FBI has conducted a consensual search of Broadwell’s family home and reportedly removed a bunch of boxes and other stuff and the latest potential shocker in this galloping story involves the Commander General in Afghanistan, John Allen, another near-60 restless warrior. Get this; Allen and Kelley supposedly exchanged 20,000-30,000 “communications” characterized by the FBI as mostly emails (or should we say she-mails). More possible classified info concerns. The Republicans are already doing the “what did the President know, and when did he know it?” dance, cursing the post-election timing of what could have been a very helpful, trash-Obama issue. In fact, a later Monday, November 12th development reportedly indicates that a particular anti-Obama agent, the first to be notified by Kelley of the harassing emails pushed the issue in hopes of getting pre-election headlines to the detriment of the President. This same agent is accused of emailed Kelley a shirtless photo. This thing gets curiouser and curiouser.

Casanova Patraeus and now perhaps Allen, at the very least, have learned the two painful lessons that high-profile 60 year-olds messing with 30-somethings always learn. From a practical standpoint, in 2012 tabloid-obsessed America, you’re going to be found out. From a moral standpoint, stick with that awesome woman who’s stuck with you for 38 years and, if you’re that desperate for a naughty outlet, well, that’s what computers behind locked Den doors at 2AM are for.

Otherwise, pass the saltpeter.

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