Tuesday, September 2, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Petraeus learns a lesson the hard way

By
From page A13 | November 14, 2012 |

The title of this saga probably should be “Why Do Smart People Do Obviously Dumb Things?”

Probably the best advice my father ever gave me was never to write anything you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing printed on the front page of your newspaper. It’s not a complicated rule and should be followed by everyone, especially those who dwell in high places with a long distance to fall.

That is the classic definition of tragedy and Gen. David Petraeus fits it almost perfectly having ended a glorious career in an inglorious fashion in the time it takes to read a few emails he never should have written in the first place. How incredible that the head of the CIA, where everything is so secret the person in the next office often hasn’t a clue what is going on two doors down, would trust his future to a device that is notoriously unsecure – the Internet.

Forget about the morality or lack of it involved here. Adultery is never a justifiable act and this is not meant to do so. It is not surprising, however, that a man of his stature under great pressure during long absences from home on the front lines of national defense would look for creature pleasures with a smart, vital, engaging, type-A personality 20 years his junior. Dumb? Certainly. But not rare. Have you not heard of Gen. Dwight Eisenhower and Kay Summersby?

That Petraeus’s part-time companion turned out to be a jealous and indiscreet handful is not unusual in these situations. Ask Bill Clinton.

What is shocking is that a normally cautious man who has spent a lifetime in sensitive positions would fail to recognize the danger of his actions or the pain it would cause others if discovered. Indeed it is amazing the woman, Paula Broadwell, his devoted biographer and also schooled in intelligence matters, would recklessly challenge by email another woman she perceived as a rival for the good general’s attention. The second woman read it as a threat and reported it. Hello, FBI, so long, general. The FBI discovered evidence of an affair in emails between Petraeus and Broadwell.

But, as we all know, sexual chemistry tops caution almost every time, even among those who know what’s at stake. Some reach heights that lead them to believe they are immune from the self-restraint any prudent person would follow. Others are just so caught up in the emotion, they are careless. Petraeus may have been a little of both.

If those close to Petraeus noticed the electricity between the general and Broadwell, which they reportedly did, they apparently failed to warn him, not unusual for subordinates when dealing with superiors at that exalted level. Who would feel comfortable enough to broach such a subject with a four-star eminence? In fact, the head of the FBI and the attorney general of the United States blinked several times before telling the national intelligence director and the president. Agents already had determined it was a matter not involving any breach or threat to national security.

Whether or not the president should have accepted Petraeus’s resignation is bound to be debated for some time. There had been friction between them over Afghanistan. Petraeus’s departure is a sizable loss to the government.

Once again, the Eisenhower-Summersby relationship comes to mind. Chief of Staff George C. Marshall reportedly rejected Eisenhower’s request for permission to divorce his wife and marry Summersby. The implication was clear. Summersby would no longer be in the picture nor would Eisenhower if the liaison continued. The relationship ended and the willowy Irish beauty who had been Ike’s driver walked away. She wrote about the true nature of their affair only after Eisenhower’s death and when she herself was dying. Eisenhower went on to the leadership role that helped end the war in Europe.

As a news executive, I spent more than a year visiting newspaper and television properties lecturing on libel, slander and other subjects, including Internet security. The message delivered repeatedly was don’t trust emails. My father’s advice came through loud and clear. What a hard lesson Petraeus has had to learn.

Email Dan K. Thomasson, former editor of the Scripps Howard News Service, at thomassondan@aol.com.

Dan K. Thomasson

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Labor Day not a holiday for everyone

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Labor Day breakfast introduces union-backed candidates

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Pool provides last dose of summer fun in the sun

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
SafeQuest schedules peer counseling training course

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5

Labor Day sees more Solano freeway crashes

By Glen Faison | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Aug. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Aug. 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

VP Biden says workers deserve ‘fair share’

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
San Francisco to be 1st to test urban farming law

By The Associated Press | From Page:

GOP challenger tries novel tactics against Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Texas’ Perry says disparaging tweet unauthorized

By The Associated Press | From Page:

US eating habits improve a bit – except among poor

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
No gray area: Beliefs shape views of Brown killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Iraqi prime minister pledges to root out militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Poland’s PM: Ukraine’s war must be stopped now

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Pro-Russian rebels lower demands in peace talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

US helicopter crashes in Gulf of Aden; all rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Opinion

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 2, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

 
.

Entertainment

Inquiries begin into nude celebrity photo leaks

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
‘Guardians’ tops Labor Day, summer box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Kirk rallies to win the Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rockies top Giants after losing end of suspended game

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Dunn homers in 1st at-bat as A’s top Mariners

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Right guard Boone passes physical, rejoins 49ers

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders name rookie Derek Carr as starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo beats Vanden 2-0 to claim All-City boys soccer title

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Armed with new deal, Chiefs’ Smith looks forward

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Column: Stewart’s Chase status doesn’t matter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Raiders ink CB Dowling, 9 others to practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Serena Williams, Djokovic roll to US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Houston Astros fire manager Bo Porter

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Hamels, 3 Phillies relievers no-hit Braves

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
.

Business

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Austerity debate flares as Europe recovery fades

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Civil disobedience expected in fast-food pay fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7