With the election behind us, now we can focus on the truly important business of governing, and trying to dig ourselves out of the fiscal hole in which we’ve put ourselves. But, at least for a few news cycles, let’s focus, instead, on a tawdry sex scandal that, while totally salacious with distinct overtones of crazy thrown in for good measure, that ultimately has no bearing, whatsoever, on our national security.
Of course I’m talking about the affair between General David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell. They’re part of the crew, but there’s more, including an FBI agent (who sent shirtless photos of himself) General John Allen, US commander of forces in Afghanistan (who sent thousands of emails to a friend, that were either flirty, or possibly of a sensitive nature) and Julie Kelley Real Housewife of Tampa (who has at various points believed that she had diplomatic immunity against the onslaught of the media stemming from her ‘Honorary Consul’ title granted by South Korea).
It’s complicated, but, at the end of the day, it’s not nearly as complicated, nor as salacious as it seems. Yes, Petraeus was balling Broadwell, and that’s a no-no, particularly when you’re a public figure (and in charge of our foreign intelligence service). But as for the rest of it, it’s an exercise in silly season story telling. Put all of this against the backdrop of Benghazi, throw in a madder than hell Republican faction on the Hill, and you have all of the trappings of a media circus that will, I believe, ultimately uncover nothing more than David Petraeus, after a sterling career, finally proved that he was his own worst enemy. The other findings will likely include that Jill Kelley is batshit crazy, that John Allen probably was flirting with her via email, and that people, even important and powerful people, make dumb decisions all the time.
But it’s not the conspiracy that people make it out to be. The questions about who knew what when, and why or why not certain actors were told are pointless. Were laws broken and was our national security endangered? At this point, and I believe ultimately, we’ll find out that was not the case. The country has collectively worked itself into a tizzy of such dizzying proportions that what really matters at this point, namely, how we’re going to govern for the next four years has been completely overlooked. And that’s much to our detriment.
What happened here wasn’t a conspiracy. What happened was a bunch of adults made some very, very childish decisions that ended up in public. And while we can’t prevent that from occurring (as rewiring human nature is impossible) we can decide what it is that we demand from the media. We wanted it, they gave it to us: an episode of reality TV that has as much cultural value as they all do (read: very little, if any at all), with higher political stakes than the producers of any reality TV show could ever imagine. There’s no conspiracy here, it’s just idiocy.