Can We Forgive General Petraeus a Little?

4798Sure, David Petraeus had an affair. But can't we forgive him a little? He's a hard-core alpha male who's spent his life serving our country--and we should mind our business, says Michelle Cottle.

Gen. David Petraeus in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 2011. (Charles Ommanney / Getty Images)
David Petraeus had an affair. Like so many men, he was sloppy about it. He was stupid about it. And, increasingly, it sounds as though the woman he chose to frolic with is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. (Firing off jealous, Jersey Shore-style emails warning another woman to stop flashing her stuff in front of the married dude for whom you are already the Other Woman? Classy. And clever.)

But as the chattering classes gorge themselves on this scandal, a recurring theme keeps popping up. Yeah, Petraeus screwed up, but the guy has spent his life fighting the baddest of bad guys and getting shot at. Can't we forgive him having a little on the side?

More often than not, it's women that I've heard making this argument. (Perhaps men are more hesitant to voice such a view publicly.) Obviously, not all gals feel this way, and even many of those who do would be loath to admit it. But it's not hard to grasp the gut-level reasoning at work here.

Unlike, say, some preening, gas-bagging politician who spends half his time expressing moral outrage at the personal shortcomings of his opponents (yes, I'm looking at you, Newt Gingrich), Petraeus is a genuine hero who does the jobs that most of us (and now at you, John Edwards) are too scared to even contemplate. The people willing to do these jobs, to take these risks, tend to be hard-core alpha males, with all of the testosterone poisoning and adrenaline addiction that comes with that. They are what we need them to be, even when that sometimes isn't what we want them to be.

Am I suggesting we give Big Dogs carte blanche to run wild, bedding every pretty young thing who catches their eye? No. Officially condoning promiscuous behavior at any level of the military would lead to all sorts of unpleasant results.

Neither should we expect their wives to bear this sort of offense with gentle good humor. God knows military spouses have their own burdens to shoulder, and the entire system would swiftly break down if we suggested that they should just suck it up and passively accept that alpha males will be alpha males. If wronged wives like Mrs. Petraeus wants to kick the holy living crap out of their husbands, good for them.

But the rest of us might be better off minding our own business--most definitely including all those yapping dogs in Congress now clamoring to know why they weren't told about this mess sooner, and when did the FBI know what it knows, and did the election affect the timing of any of this, and yip yip yippety yip.

Source: The Daily Beast | Michelle Cottle
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