Flatiron Hot! Pundit: The Real General Petraeus Sex Scandal
Lest anyone thought the re-election of Barack Obama – the multiracial president who endorsed gay marriage and mandated contraception coverage – signaled in any way a moderation of America’s puritanical impulse, feast your eyes on the latest Washington spectacle, this time starring General David H. Petraeus.
In yet another rendition of an anachronistic purification ritual, America has forced another qualified public official into unnecessary early retirement. The prospect that a decorated, highly competent general should have to retire based on the conduct of his private life in this day and age is indicative of a larger national disorder.
Even as our culture degenerates into daily TV helpings of over-sexualized drivel and divorce rates are higher than ever before, we expect our public officials to adhere to puritanical standards that are all the more unrealistic in the age of the omnipresent tabloid media. Meanwhile, some of the greatest U.S. statesmen of yesteryear engaged in all manner of sordid affairs while in office.
The “Greatest Generation” turned a blind eye to the numerous infidelities of now-sainted Franklin D. Roosevelt and his lesbian First Lady. By today’s standards, such conduct would merit possible impeachment. We would hear hypocritical moral warriors on the right insisting that a president who would cheat on his First Lady (much less a First Lady who would cheat on her husband with other ladies) displays such a lack of moral fiber that he is not fit to hold the highest office of the land.
Yet, FDR inspired the confidence of millions during his tenure, and is now remembered as one of the greatest U.S. presidents ever. Why? Because he displayed the timeless qualities of leadership that even many of his political opponents could not help but notice. Because his policies helped lift the nation out of the Great Depression. And because he motivated the nation to help vanquish the greatest forces of evil to rear their totalitarian heads in the 20th century, perhaps ever.
Jumping forward a couple of decades, we place serial philanderers Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy on a pedestal alongside Hercules and Superman. Such examples should teach us the obvious: that one’s faithfulness or lack thereof has no bearing on one’s capacity to serve the nation. Yet, the increasing ability to peer into the personal lives of public officials with a magnifying glass has allowed our worst voyeuristic impulses to take over.
The little scandals relished by the roving eyes of hypocritical moral watchdogs pop up periodically, sending shivers up the spines of moral watchdogs who, in their downtime, snort crystal meth with male strippers, engage in covert sodomy in bathroom stalls, and cheat on second wives who are dying of cancer. But given his exemplary, unfailingly noble record of moral service, good old Newt Gingrich deserves the benefit of the social conservative doubt. After all, was he not the guardian of traditional morality who dragged naughty old Bill Clinton over the coals of impeachment?
Oh, but let us not forget one fine statesman who was, by all accounts, faithful to his wife: George W. Bush. The steadfast patriot who, following in fellow faithful husband Ronald Reagan’s ideological footsteps, gave us two wars paid for on a credit card, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and tax/regulatory policies that blatantly favor the 1% at the expense of everyone else. And to give the conservative narrative its due, Barack Obama has never cheated on his dear Michelle.
Don’t take my word for it, though. If Barack the stud so much as eyed another lady’s bosom, you can be sure FOX News and the talk shows would be all over it. Yet, of all the vile accusation hurled against the president, infidelity has not, as far as I know, been one of them. But look where that black, Muslim, radical, faithful socialist has gotten us. And to think, now we must endure another four years of his morally-pure (yet somehow also Machiavellian and sinister) bungling incompetence.
Perhaps it is a symptom of the commodification of sexuality that we expect politicians, who in all other capacities we readily condemn as lacking in scruples, to abide by puritanical ideals of upright marital fidelity. Meanwhile, hidden in the pages of history books that few Americans bother to read, Thomas Jefferson plows slave girl Sally Hemings and Benjamin Franklin beds French socialists.
But forget all unimportant details. General Betray-Us found himself in the arms and between the legs of a woman who was not his wife, and all is well in the world. Never mind that the actual crime for which the FBI was investigating the general in the first place turned out never to have occurred, thereby calling the merits of said investigation into question. Well, whatever, never mind. We have rid the military of a rotten philanderer; now we can all feel a little better about our imperfect selves.