Petraeus scandal Washington's new soap opera
BY MIKE JONES Associate Editor
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 3:32 AM
I know that the scandal surrounding David Petraeus is serious. After all, the former general and former director of the CIA has some secrets that need to be kept. And he has some questions to answer.
Still, the entire mess falls somewhere between a soap opera and a reality show. I admit that I have little experience with either soap operas or reality shows, but I keep up enough to know what they are.
Who knows how much more confusing this can get. We have Petraeus, who was having an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. She supposedly sent emails telling Florida socialite Jill Kelley to stop flirting with Petraeus. Kelley informed an FBI friend, Fred Humphries II, that she felt that the emails were threatening and Humphries started an investigation, which eventually led to Broadwell and the discovery of the affair with Petraeus. Then, Gen. John Allen, a friend of Kelley and who, by the way, was in the process of being promoted to the head of NATO, got involved because he, too, had sent Kelley a bunch of emails, some of which some people think had sexual overtones. By the way, during all this, agent Humphries sent Kelley an email photo of himself shirtless.
We'll be right back
Whew. Cue music. Fade to commercial break.
All the ingredients are there: infidelity, power, sex, conflict and international intrigue. And much of the action is taking place in sunny Florida. To confuse matters ever more slightly, Jill Kelley has a twin sister, Natalie Khawam. Maybe it's just me, but I know just enough about the Kardashians to see the resemblance.
We're missing some dancing and singing, but someone will probably get fired. Our judges: A gaggle of shocked and appalled members of Congress hellbent on picking some winners and losers while trying to pin all this on President Obama.
There is a serious side to this. Petraeus, besides betraying his wife, could have put the country at risk. It's not unusual for a leader to publish a biography. Talking to a writer and knowing what not to say is important. Sleeping with the writer and being in the position of maybe saying too much can be dangerous.
The U.S. military is not immune to sex scandals. There have been too many instances of superior officers (usually men) coercing junior officers (usually women) into sexual situations. Those who have been caught (far too few) have been punished.
Petraeus and Broadwell fall into a different category. Broadwell is a graduate of West Point and an officer in the Army reserve. She is not, however, on active duty and was acting as a civilian in her role as biographer and presumably sex partner with Petraeus. She had some security clearance, which has been revoked.
Still, it's unlikely that Petraeus revealed any top-secret information to Broadwell and even if there were some off-the-record pillow talk, she doesn't seem the Mata Hari type.
Kelley I can't figure out at all. She is supposedly a friend of Allen and Petraeus as well as the shirtless FBI agent. And she didn't figure that bringing in the FBI might lead to, at the very least, her email conversations with Gen. Allen? She even tried to claim some sort of diplomatic immunity when the media started walking on her lawn. Maybe she's more Kardashian than simply in looks.
I am not endorsing infidelity. But I can't help thinking that this might not rise to the level of congressional investigation. Petraeus ought not be the head of the CIA or commanding officer in a war zone with this hanging over his head, but he has little to say other than, "I'm very sorry"
Henry Kissinger, never considered male model material, once said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. That is proven over and over. Those who have it feel empowered by it and those who see it want to get near it and be a part of it.
Most everyone is asking the same question: They put this stuff in emails? What were they thinking? How can smart people do such a dumb thing?
Polly want a ...?
Will Rogers once said, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip." Email and the social network are the parrots of the 21st century. Don't put stuff there that you don't want the whole town to know.
The economy might be headed for a cliff and Congress and everyone else in Washington is asking the president questions about this soap opera/reality show.
Can't this be canceled? Someone call in the rich egomaniac with the funny hair to fire someone and let's call it a night.
And be careful what you feed the parrot.
Original Print Headline: Cue the music
Mike Jones, 918-581-8332
Gen. David Petraeus shakes hands with Paula Broadwell, co-author of his biography, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," on July 13, 2011. International Secruity Assistance Force/Associated Press file