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Susan Estrich
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An Officer and a Gentleman

Comment

Something very wrong has just gone down. It's played out so much like a soap opera, for those following the twists and turns of who sent whom a shirtless photo, but at its core, it is very simple. America has just lost the much-needed services of one of the most brilliant military leaders of our time because he had an affair with the woman who wrote his biography.

I don't mean to sound unsympathetic to his wife. Every marriage is different, and I don't pretend to know, but no one would want to go through this kind of public ritual. But that's between the two of them. As this should be.

I get the argument that you can't have our nation's highest ranking intelligence official subject to blackmail because of an extramarital affair, except for the fact that the same argument could be made for, let's see, presidents, senators, police chiefs, mayors, members of Congress.

Plus, the fact is that it's very easy to entirely eliminate the blackmail risk by simply making the information, or the reporting of it to authorities, public, or by announcing a temporary separation. In that case, it plays out as a pretty quick story because it is private — and only public to the extent that it needs to be.

And afterward, the talented general goes back to working to make America and Americans safe in the world, to finding out what our enemies would do to us before they can do it, and to stopping them.

Now, I'm sure if someone had said to him with the kind of certainty that doesn't exist that this affair would end his career, no offense to the other woman, but does anyone think he wouldn't have walked away?

Of course he didn't ask himself that question. Why would anyone think that should be enough to cost you your job? He's not running a military division in which she serves.

He's the head of the CIA. She's a reservist writer. Shocking.

I once asked the late and legendary political consultant Bob Squier what percentage of his clients (some of the top Democratic politicians in the country) had been "unfaithful" to their wives in the year leading up to an election, and he just laughed. "More than 80?" I said. He kept laughing.

People in a business where they hear the sound of applause daily and learn to call themselves "we" have it far too easy for their own good in this respect. Temptation is everywhere because power is a great aphrodisiac, enough to easily make up for being older or balder, which no one suggests was a problem here. It makes sense that facing constant temptation increases dramatically the risk that you'll be tempted.

Here's my view: I don't care if Gen. Petraeus had an affair. I might pick up People in the grocery line to flip through pictures, but my interest kind of ends there.

He didn't have an affair with me or with anyone I know, so I'm back to what he has done for me. And that is quite a bit, actually.

I'm sure I don't have any idea as to the best parts, the parts where the greatest success is that nothing happens and you don't have a press conference. I don't know how many of those kinds of challenges we face, but my guess is a lot, and having the general as the head of the CIA, like having him lead our troops on the ground, is leading with our best.

As far as I can tell, at least at this stage, the general has been a gentleman: not fighting or finger-pointing or blaming. He is accepting the consequences of his conduct, disproportionate though they may be.

We shouldn't. The general is a big-time loser here, but so are the rest of us. We have benefited from his service and won't anymore because of something that is between his wife and him, something that is no reason for us to lose him.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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Comments

15 Comments | Post Comment
Yes an affair does leave him open for blackmail. Thats exactly what Obama did to him. Blackmailed him in exchange for lying about Bengahzi. But the general counden't stomach the lies and came clean. Now that he has no connection to Obama anymore, he can go ahead and testify to whatever. This is the first of Obama cleaning out his corrupt leaders and replacing them for a fresh start on more scandals. Clinton, Geighner, And Penetta are all voted off the island. Any more scandals with those 3 and Obama might not be able to cover them up much longer. Lets take out the dirty laundry and start fresh.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:09 PM
Ms Estrich stated: "Now, I'm sure if someone had said to him with the kind of certainty that doesn't exist that this affair would end his career, no offense to the other woman, but does anyone think he wouldn't have walked away? ...Of course he didn't ask himself that question. Why would anyone think that should be enough to cost you your job? "

He should have thought that it might have cost him his job because it happens to other people quite frequently. This isn't the first such career ending scandal. This kind of politically incorrect behavior gets you booted out of the military quite quickly. (In fact, locally an enlisted member was recently discharged for being caught with a prostitute. Imagine that, a lonely 19 year old far away from home with a sex drive! Must have been the first time such a thing has occurred in the USN!) The General took his chances and got caught. (By whom and why would be a good question to ask yourself.) The General remained true to his own code of honor/ethics by resigning. If he didn't, what would he say to the 19 year old ex-sailor? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Ms. Estrich further stated: "As far as I can tell, at least at this stage, the general has been a gentleman: not fighting or finger-pointing or blaming. He is accepting the consequences of his conduct, disproportionate though they may be."

Yes, the General knew what the meaning of the word "is" is. His gentlemanly behavior in this matter makes some other individuals look remarkably bad.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:37 AM
I find it ironic that soldiers can be discharged for these acts on the grounds that national is threatened, and that presidents are not.
I also think it is ironic that you can go to jail for lying to congress.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Bill Jackson
Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:57 AM
I find it ironic that soldiers can be discharged for these acts on the grounds that national is threatened, and that presidents are not.
I also think it is ironic that you can go to jail for lying to congress.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bill Jackson
Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:57 AM
If the General is truly an honorable man he will come clean on Benghazi facts and his viewpoirnt on what decisions were made or not made.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Oldtimer
Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:20 AM
The real scandal with the Libyan thing is WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE BENGHAZI .....the main stream media , with the exception of Jonathan Alter has avoided talking about the House votes to DECREASE funding for embassy security not once but twice over the last two years despite the requests for additional security from BOTH the Obama Administration and the State Department. I am appalled that many Republican Representatives are trying desparately to throw blame back on the Obama Administration when the blood of these four Americans is squarely on the hands of any Representative who voted to reduce that security funding. My locan Congressman, Mike Kelly, immediately went onto the House floor weeks ago to bash the Administration for what happened to these four Americans......but when I emailed him to ask him HOW HE VOTED,,,he has since stonewalled my questions. (He normally responds to my emails withing a week or so. The scandal is the DECREASE in security funding and the Media should be all over this. Representative Ackermann rightly chastized Representative Rohrabacher on this point on Thursday when he told Rohrabacher ......TO GET A MIRROR if he wanted to find one of those responsible. These guys are trying to build a scandal where ther is not one. I call this broohaha, SEMANTICSGATE. Because it is a fight over words, not deeds. It is sad that we lost those Americans, but I am not so sure that we could have saved them without the potential loss of MORE American lives. This is a non-scandal. Or a scandal only in the small petty partisan minds of a group that just got their tails spanked in the recent election and need something to whine about. Sen. McCain, a sore loser at best, should take his meds and crawl back into his bed and hibernate for a few months . He and Romney need to somehow come to a momnet when they deal with the fact that they both were beaten by a community organizer who knew how to organize his forces and beat them.
Comment: #6
Posted by: robert lipka
Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:21 AM
Robert is still wrapped up in the arguement that more security would have done something. No matter how much security, no one at any place is truely safe. Throwing more money at problems rarely solves them. We are mad because Obama knew the truth and chose to lie anyhow. Thats the kind of president we have. No integrity whatsoever.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:10 AM
Mr. Lipka is still wrapped up in the "blame the Republicans" paradigm. He takes one simple vote on funding levels and proclaims that to be the cause of the Libyan debacle. I've gone over this before in this forum, but it apparently didn't register so I'll explain the simple facts one more time. I will be using some numbers so everyone put on your thinking caps.

The Department of State (which runs our embassies, consulates, etc...) has an enormous budget amounting to ~$ 59.5 Billion (N.B., ~$200/ year from each US citizen). The notion that there just wasn't enough money available for security enhancements in this enormous slush fund is rubbish. If the DoS had felt the upgrades were urgent and absolutely necessary, it had plentiful options. DoS could have asked the Congress for the funds again with a better justification (e.g., High probability of an imminent attack). DoS could have reprogrammed some of their enormous funds to security. (Perhaps the Chevy Volts and charging station at the Austrian embassy weren't so important after all?). The DoS could have directed the ambassador to stay in a high security area on days when there was a high probability of incidents (e.g., 9/11). DoS did NONE of these things. Apparently DoS misjudged the nature of the threat in Libya.

Further, the DoS has stated that lack of security funding was not the issue in this case. So apparently even they realize where the problem actually lies.

Not all problems can be solved with money. In this case, more than ample funds were available if managed properly. This was clearly a major error in judgement on someones part. All the Security in the world won't help you if you put yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to determine the true causes of this debacle, fix those problems, and move on. The election is over, we can stop blaming this one on the Republicans in Congress.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Old Navy
Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:54 AM
Old Navy, you're awesome.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:00 AM
Susan, as a partisan person it is a hardly refreshing to read your "take" on the matter. I don't understand most Democrats seem to not give a hoot about all of this, when in my mind this looks to be 10x"s worse than Watergate!
I understand that Democrats feel this loyalty to "their guy" but at some point reality has to kick in. What we are being led to believe here is that the POTUS knew nothing of these events untill the day after the election! Do you really believe that? You're a smart girl, do you believe this crap? I'm positive you don't! But you and the others will just keep your mouths shut till this all blows over, right! Or, maybe focus on a titilating love triangle and disregard the constitutional implications that Obama has wrapped himself in.
Lying to the American people, lying to Congress, blackmailling top officials, a dead Ambassador, a dead assistant, 2 dead soldiers, an election which was stolen by not being forthcoming, these are insignificant things compared to the first black man being president in U.S. history. You democrats will surely forget all of this until the next republican president or candidate throws a ciggarette butt out the window. Then.....there will be hell to pay,right!
Comment: #10
Posted by: Tom Smithers
Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:51 PM
Re: robert lipka
You apparently didn't see the State Department spokesperson witness saying that 'funding' was NOT the problem in providing security in Benghazi. Keep up with the facts.
Also, it is important to find out why our government continues to think it's ok to lie to the people!
Comment: #11
Posted by: Oldtimer
Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:28 AM
Hard to believe some of you are ex military. Very hard to believe. You who accused the President of telling our enemies when we were pulling out and didn't grasp the logic behind that now don't understand when he doesn't tell our enemies how we are dealing with these attacks. Why is it so many of our officials say they didn't know? None can deny that President Obama has many who would see him fail, some even among his own party. If they'd put our economy on the brink of collapse to make sure he didn't get a second term, don't you know they'd put our country on the brink of destruction just to see this black man fail? Don't lie. The creepiest one of the lot of you would leave this great country rather than see Obama succeed. Obama and those he trusts are dealing with this act of terrorism. Who would it help but the terrorists and our enemies if the American people were informed of everything our government does to protect and defend our interests both here and abroad. We'll know when we need to know, not when we want to know. Just like when he got Bin Laden & all the others. He was telling jokes at a media event the night before they raided the Bin Laden compound. No drama Obama gets the job done. While the wannabe's and the hasbeen's vie with each other for tv time and the dumbest of Americans act like a pack of wolves howling for Obama's blood; whether you like him or not whether you voted for him or not, he still gets the job done.
Comment: #12
Posted by: morgan
Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:30 PM
No one here wants to see Obama fail (maybe Joseph), its that we know he can't succeed using his policies. His foreign policy has been the same as W Bush, war and more war. Whats more disturbing is his domestic policy. Taxing the rich is all fine and dandy, but to close the gap on what the government spends and takes in, we would need every single American to pay well over 60% in taxes. High taxes like that would crush the economy and everyone loses. Government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Each time the government kicks the can down the road, confidence in the dollar weakens and there will be a reckoning. Obama needs to stand up and address these problems and come up with real reforms. Instead he touts the same failed ideas.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:17 PM
Morgan wrote: "Hard to believe some of you are ex military. Very hard to believe."

I'm not sure who or what your talking about here. Could you be specific? BTW, Care to share your credentials in this regard?

Morgan further wrote: "None can deny that President Obama has many who would see him fail, some even among his own party. If they'd put our economy on the brink of collapse to make sure he didn't get a second term, don't you know they'd put our country on the brink of destruction just to see this black man fail? Don't lie. The creepiest one of the lot of you would leave this great country rather than see Obama succeed."

What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Who is the "creepiest" person you write about? The only creepy thing I've seen in this thread is your wild, ad hominen attack on people who don't agree with you.

BTW, I'd love to be proven wrong and see the dear leader succeed. Unfortunately, I've been around a bit too long and know a bit too much history to allow me to hold such a rosy view. I EXPECT him to fail based on my understanding of history and how the real world works. And the consequences of this failure are not going to be pretty. But then, I could be wrong...

Morgan also wrote: "We'll know when we need to know, not when we want to know."

Wow! No need for oversight for the dear leader! Could you imagine anyone saying this about Richard Nixon and Watergate 40 years ago? Or about Bush II and how we got into the Iraq war? As citizens, we pay for all this nonsense. We have a right/duty to ask how something as mind bogglingly dumb as the Libyan debacle could be allowed to occur. I don't care exactly what the dear leader is doing to get even with the bad guys. Tactical info like that should be secret. I do expect a coherent explanation of what happened to the Ambassador and how we will fix it in the future.

Finally Morgan wrote: "Just like when he got Bin Laden & all the others. He was telling jokes at a media event the night before they raided the Bin Laden compound. No drama Obama gets the job done. "

Gee, this is news! I thought the Seals had done all the hard work of killing Bin Laden. Now I realize Obama personally did all the intelligence work to locate Bin Laden and then went along on the mission to perform the act of justice.

Seriously, I have NO idea what you are talking about here. The only job the dear leader is excelling at right now is running up the national debt. The economy is puttering along creating jobs at a rate that is barely sufficient to match population growth. He has no serious plans to deal with either the economy or the debt that I can detect. But then again, maybe "I'll know when I need to know, not when I want to know."

People can disagree for a whole host of reasons. I can tolerate people with alternate views without immediately declaring them to be racist creeps. Try this yourself in the future.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Old Navy
Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:23 PM
Its troubling that Obama-bots always bring up the race card when people critizise him. They are the racist ones always throwing around the R-word. We are not attacking Obamas race. I'm not even attacking his personality. I'm sure he's a great guy to have a beer with. What we don't like are his policies. Redistribution has a terrible track record in this country and others. We want government to spend what it makes. Is that so extreme that we are racist for thinking that? We also want the economy to grow. High taxes and regulation clearly are not the way. Thats what we've been doing. Bush included.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Chris McCoy
Mon Nov 19, 2012 5:52 PM
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