Thursday, September 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Shakespeare was right: ‘Reputation, reputation, reputation’

Maureen Dowd

By
From page A11 | November 16, 2012 |

As Lyndon Johnson said, the two things that make leaders stupid are envy and sex.

Macbeth kills a king out of envy. Egged on by an envious Iago, Othello smothers his wife out of a crazed fear of her having sex with his lieutenant.

Now another charismatic general has shattered his life and career over sex. When you’ve got a name like a Greek hero, and a nickname like a luscious fruit, isn’t hubris ripe to follow?

It’s been a steep fall for Peaches Petraeus, once the darling of Congress and journalists, Republicans and Democrats, Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley.

Washington is suffused with schadenfreude. Yet President Barack Obama and others felt genuinely sad to see a man so controlling about integrity and image – he warned proteges that “someone is always watching” – spin out of control on integrity and image. As Shakespeare wrote in “Othello”: “Reputation, reputation, reputation.”

As a West Point cadet, David Petraeus clambered up the social ladder by winning the superintendent’s daughter; now he has been brought down by his camp followers clambering up the social ladder.

Even when he was the CIA director, Petraeus’ ego was so wrapped up in being a shiny military idol that, according to The Washington Post, he recently surprised guests at a D.C. dinner when he arrived to speak wearing his medals on the lapel of his suit jacket.

His fall started as Sophocles and turned sophomoric, a mind-boggling melange 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 emails, 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 FBI 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.”

”This is ‘The National Enquirer,’” an alarmed Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Wolf Blitzer of CNN. If only it were that highbrow. Now that erotic activity is entwined with the Internet, rather than closeted in hideaway Capitol offices and Oval Office pantries, it’s even more likely to be a trip wire for history.

It is disturbing that an ethically sketchy, politically motivated FBI agent could spark an incendiary federal investigation tunneling into private lives to help a woman he liked and later blow it up to hurt a president he didn’t like.

It’s also worrisome that the nation’s spymaster – who had presided in a military where adultery could result in court-martial – could not have found a more clandestine manner of talking naughty to his biographer babe than a Gmail drop box, a semiprivate file-sharing system used by terrorists, teenagers and authors.

It’s understandable that men accustomed to being away from their families and cloistered with other men in Muslim countries where drinking and blowing off steam are frowned upon might get used to cavorting on email.

But Petraeus should have realized that the Chinese and Russians were snooping and sent Paula Broadwell an Enigma email: “I would like your insights into the debate over COIN versus CT in Helmand province. Our HVT kills are falling a little short of the mark. Let’s discuss.”

And Broadwell could have sent ones more like: “I’ve been reading Chapter 3 notes and the Galula theory of counterinsurgency confuses me. Hope you can clarify.”

The scandal is a good reminder that, although John McCain and Sarah Palin urge total trust and blank checks for the generals, these guys are human beings working under extremely stressful circumstances, and their judgments are not beyond reproach.

Petraeus’ Icarus flight began when he set himself above Obama.

Accustomed to being a demigod, expert at polishing his own celebrity and swaying public opinion, Petraeus did not accept the new president’s desire to head for the nearest exit ramp on Afghanistan in 2009. The general began lobbying for a surge in private sessions with reporters and undercutting the president, who was trying to make a searingly hard call.

Petraeus rolled the younger commander in chief into going ahead with a bound-to-fail surge in Afghanistan, just as, half-a-century earlier, the CIA had rolled Jack Kennedy into going ahead with the bound-to-fail Bay of Pigs scheme. Both missions defied logic, but the untested presidents put aside their own doubts and instincts, caving to experience.

Once in Afghanistan, Petraeus welcomed prominent conservative hawks from Washington think tanks. As Greg Jaffe wrote in The Washington Post, they were “given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.”

So many more American kids and Afghanistan civilians were killed and maimed in a war that went on too long. That’s the real scandal.

Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

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

Theatre DeVille in Vacaville closes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun council candidates all voice business-friendly platforms

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Focus on school attendance now, always

By Mayrene Bates | From Page: A2

 
Pepperbelly’s for sale

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Jury selection begins in 2011 Fairfield murder trial

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3

 
Seniors get help at Kroc Center health fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Drug court success stories tell their tales

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suisun City Senior Center seeks holiday donations

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Lunafest returns to Fairfield in November

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Sept. 18, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Sept. 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Emotions mount on final day of Scottish campaign

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
More than 2,000 homes threatened in California fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Maps provide early warning of California fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Police: Ambush suspect was military re-enactor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

House grudgingly approves arms for Syrian rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a ‘whitewash’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

School district police stock up free military gear

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
NASA’s Maven spacecraft reaches Mars this weekend

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US military role in Iraq raises combat questions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Liberia president praises US for Ebola help pledge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Obama reaffirms opposition to US combat in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
AP Interview: Iraq premier says no foreign troops

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
US scientist: Ebola unlikely to become airborne

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

.

Opinion

 
Give new crime report a chance

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7, 4 Comments

 
Homeless find welcome in Vallejo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: Sept. 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Sept. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My brother fails to make an effort to when it comes to my kids

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
U2 returns to iTunes Top 100 — 26 times

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: B4

Directors Guild finds TV diversity hiring stalled

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Sports

 
Giants snap tie in 9th, beat Arizona to narrow gap in West to 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers’ Kaepernick fined for inappropriate language

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Rodriguez gets 1st MEL soccer win since return to league

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Umpire West suspended 1 game for grabbing jersey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

After making ‘mistake,’ Vikings bench RB Peterson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sharks sign D Braun to 5-year, $19 M extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Rockets acquire Jason Terry, picks from Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Panthers remove DE Greg Hardy from active roster

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Barry Bonds appeal heads back to court

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raiders rookie Derek Carr focuses on job at hand

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Pegulas’ bid to buy Bills OK’d by NFL committee

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Brown signs ride-sharing insurance legislation

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US homebuilder confidence soars in September

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Anthem, hospitals join to offer new insurance plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Drag queens dress down Facebook over names

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Wells Fargo pays $290,000 in sex harassment case

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Fed signals plan to keep key rate at record low

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

Margaret King

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9