The Petraeus Matter

I was going to title this post “The Petraeus Affair” but that sounded a bit awkward. Since this thing first broke, I’ve harbored suspicions that there’s got to be more to it because as it stands now, it reads like the script of a modern-day Marx Brothers movie. Despite me not being a big fan of her writing, I confess that Maureen Dowd did the best job of capturing the absurdity of it all in her column yesterday:

[Petraeus’s] fall started as Sophocles and turned sophomoric, a mind-boggling mélange of “From Here to Eternity,” “You’ve Got Mail,” “The Real Housewives of Centcom,” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” It features toned arms, slinky outfits, a cat fight, titillating e-mails, a military more consumed with sex than violence, a plot with more inconceivable twists than “Homeland,” and a Twitter’s-delight lexicon: an “embedded” mistress named Broadwell, a biography called “All In,” an other-other woman of Middle East ancestry who was a “social liaison” to the military, a shirtless F.B.I. agent crushing on the losing-her-shirt-to-debt Tampa socialite, a pair of generals helping the socialite’s twin sister with a custody case, and lawyers and crisis-management experts linked to Monica Lewinsky, John Edwards and the ABC show “Scandal.”

To me, the most fascinating (and disturbing) aspect of this episode is how it was all unveiled. A woman in Tampa, solely it seems due to her status as a reliable social host for high ranking officers at US Southern Command who felt the need to impress visitors with elaborate parties not (directly) on the government tab, got a couple of emails that disturbed her. She turned to an FBI agent friend who was able to then launch an investigation that brought down the director of the CIA and perhaps the soon-to-be commander of US European Command and who knows what else. My issue is with how a major FBI investigation can be launched not because of probable cause but because of social contacts. There’s a thread of entitlement, of playing by a different set of rules than are imposed on everyone else, that permeates this entire episode, from the top generals down to the social climbing social hosts. Call it “big-shot-itis.”

4 Responses to The Petraeus Matter

  1. Brian Flaherty says:

    And did you hear her 911 calls? She was asking for diplomatic protection because of her honorary ambassador title.