Why is it that adultery can ruin a man’s career but rarely a woman’s, at least in so-called civilized countries? (In Saudi Arabia an adulterous woman is stoned to death.) An American diplomat slated to become the next ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk, lost his chance because of an affair with a reporter who is now his wife. Why is it suddenly criminal to sleep with the opposite sex? Gays the world over must be over the moon. Why are government officials stewards of the public trust, including what they do in the bedroom?
Poor Petraeus. A lifetime of public service went down the drain for knocking off a leggy social climber. Dwight Eisenhower did it with his female driver. Kennedy did it daily while president. Warren Harding and Grover Cleveland were also philanderers, the latter fathering a child outside marriage while in the White House. Bill Clinton does not rate a mention because his women were such slobs, and that includes Hillary. General Patton was a fabled womanizer, as hard-charging tank commanders tend to be, except for Erwin Rommel, whose uxorious behavior contradicted his aggressive tactics while leading the greatest fighting unit ever—the 25th Panzer Regiment of the 7th Panzer Division.
There was no crime or breach of security in the Petraeus affair, hence no hint of blackmail. So why resign? His wife’s ancestors were generals in the Civil War, and those guys got quite a bit back then when away from home. The Spartans even openly borrowed older men’s wives in order to give them children and produce strong warriors. Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, had a high opinion of this practice and called it an act of liberality, laughing at those who thought the violation of their bed was an intolerable affront. Lycurgus had a high opinion of any old man who had a young wife and recommended an agreeable young man with whom she might have a child. The English upper classes still follow this practice, and it was one of the reasons I moved to Britain back in the 60s. The on dit is that half the Lambtons are Freuds and none of the Tennants are Tennants—which might not be such a bad thing in view of the horror that was Colin Tennant—and everyone knows that Lady Diana Cooper was someone else’s, as is Lady Cosima Somerset, whose daughter Romy is my godchild. But at the end no one really gives a damn, except for the press and the media who have nothing else to talk about here in the Land of the Depraved.
The greatest Greek sleuth ever, Taki, thinks the neocons set Petraeus up once he called Israel a liability in the Middle East. The irony is that “General Order No. 1” prohibits troops from fraternization, all sex, alcohol consumption, pornography, and generally all activities that might make the boredom of service more bearable. The military code of conduct varies with countries, but it’s a general rule that one does not commit adultery with a brother officer’s wife. So why is Prince Charles still in business? He cuckolded Andrew Parker Bowles, who probably got a promotion as a result, which goes to show it depends who does the deed, not the deed itself.
Petraeus was set up by Paula Broadwell, who was most likely set up herself by Washington neocon insiders who knew what they were doing. The funny thing is that if Petraeus had a homosexual dalliance with a writer who brought along his own ghostwriter, like Broadwell did, he’d still have his job in Langley. No one would dare say a word, starting with The New York Times, or Gay Times as it prefers to be called.
Talk about American exceptionalism. In 23 states adultery remains a criminal act, and that includes my own favorite, Virginia. This means most of the Kennedys should have died in jail by now. And it gets worse. General John Allen, the Marine who succeeded Petraeus in Afghanistan, is under a cloud for—get this—sending flirtatious emails to some Lebanese hustler back in Florida. They don’t even have to catch you with your pants down; it’s now the thought that counts. What utter crap.
Of all social institutions, marriage is that of which the laws are the most difficult to determine, because they are the opposite of nature. I often ask the mother of my children when she complains about my behavior whether she would prefer me to be a lousy husband and a faithful one, or the opposite. She lies and says the former. Then she laughs. Shelley said a couple should stay together as long as they were united by love—and he meant only sexual love—and called it an intolerable tyranny if a man and a woman stayed together after the sexual attraction had worn off. I agree to a certain extent. As he said, constancy has nothing virtuous in itself. The way to keep a good relationship going is for the man to fool around when he gets the urge and to keep shtum afterward. Never admit and you will make the wife happy. Forget what she says. It’s what you say that counts. And say nothing.
Petraeus committed no crime or breach of national security. If it ever came to blackmail he should offer the names and pictures of other women he’s had while away from home fighting for his country. It’s called the Sukarno defense. A good man has gone down for doing what comes naturally.
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