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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jane Mayer: Did Petraeus Have to Go?

As one might expect, Jane Mayer at The New Yorker has terrific piece on the unanswered questions, some "political," in the Petraeus scandal, including why didn't Eric Cantor go public before Election Day.  But she then closes with this to chew on:
A final question, at least from my standpoint, is whether Petraeus had to resign at all. It appears that Clapper, who like Petraeus is a military man, saw it as a no-brainer. Within the military, there are rules about adultery. But within civilian life, should there be? The line of the day on the morning talk shows in Washington, seemed to be that Petraeus did the “honorable” thing, or, “he had to resign.” The old saw that if he wasn’t squeaky clean, he could be subject to blackmail by his enemies, thus endangering national security, was mentioned again and again.
To me, the whole Victorian shame game seems seriously outdated. Something like half the marriages in the country now end in divorce, and you can bet a great many of those involved extra-marital affairs. Is it desirable to bar such a large number of public servants from top jobs? It certainly seems fair to question Petraeus’s judgement, ethics, moral fiber, etc. in this matter, but if infidelity wasn’t treated as career-threatening, its value to black-mailers would be much reduced (the fear of a spouse is another matter). In this instance, evidently, there were no crimes. So why again did this blow up as it has? Fans of thrillers, like me, are waiting for more answers.
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