Monday, March 30, 2015
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 [email protected]

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

2 drivers killed in same area, an hour apart

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

 
Easter activities, events abundant

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Christians begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrations

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
My guide to dining out

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Local governments post week’s meeting times

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Top young spellers to compete for Solano title

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Police investigate shooting off North Texas Street

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

 
Vallejo police seek leads in weekend homicide

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Biz Buzz: Wiseman officer names Perez to key post

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A10

Biz Buzz: Re/Max hires new Realtor

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
Biz Buzz: PAL receives donation from glass company

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10 | Gallery

.

US / World

Police ramp up rail-crossing citations after recent crashes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Analysis finds unequal pay for women on California Capitol

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

Songwriter injured in California crash; motorcyclist killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

 
Taylor Swift wins artist of the year at iHeartRadio Awards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Police: 2 bodies found in NYC building explosion rubble

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Drownings along Rio Grande spike after enforcement surge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Grandma is a centerfold: Rest home bares all for calendar

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Islamic State group beheads 8 Shiites in Syria’s Hama

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Waving fronds around the world, Christians mark Palm Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Air Canada plane makes hard landing short of Halifax runway

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Small tsunami generated in Pacific after earthquake

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 30, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 30, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: March 30, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Parenting: If a father is abusive, a mother must act

By The Washington Post | From Page: B8

 
Horoscopes: March 31, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B8

.

Entertainment

TVGrid March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
TVGrid March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

Michelle Obama declares ‘Black Girls Rock!’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Sports

Duke back in Final Four after 66-52 win over Gonzaga

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Spartans Final Four-bound after 76-70 OT win over Louisville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Turner says Saturday regional finals highest-rated in decade

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Apology for wrong anthem for El Salvador before game in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Montoya holds off Power to give Penske 1-2 sweep at St. Pete

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Stanford’s Randle chases school scoring record, title at NIT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamlin wins for 25th time, and fifth time at Martinsville

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jimmy Walker wins hometown Texas Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Oakland OF Josh Reddick won’t be ready for start of season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
California Chrome heads to Britain, to race at Royal Ascot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vettel wins Malaysian GP to end Mercedes streak

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Joe Gibbs on son: most courageous person I’ve been around

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Chodounsky defends slalom title at US Alpine Championships

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
South Carolina earns 1st Final Four berth, beats FSU 80-74

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Graveman pitches into 7th inning as A’s beat Brewers 7-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Cain goes 4 innings in Giants win over LA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Robert Roberts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Janice Jewel Thompson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baby Blues March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Frank and Ernest March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

B.C. March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Wizard of Id March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baldo March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Bridge March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Crossword March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Cryptoquote March 30

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sally Forth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Get Fuzzy March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Wizard of Id March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Baby Blues March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Frank and Ernest March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
B.C. March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Blondie March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Peanuts March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Baldo March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Rose is Rose March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Beetle Bailey March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
For Better or Worse March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Dilbert March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Garfield March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Pickles March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Word Sleuth March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Bridge March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

Sudoku March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8

 
Cryptoquote March 31

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B8