A Word (or Two) on the Petraeus ‘Apology’

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, March 28, 2013

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Looking perhaps a little smaller, bereft of his familiar chestful of medals or his over-starched ACUs (Army Combat Uniform), (Ret.) Gen. David Petraeus began his road to public redemption this week with a speech designed to make him look contrite over an extra-marital affair with a woman who served as both protege and biographer and had especially close access to his inner leadership circle in Afghanistan, Paula Broadwell.

I say “public redemption” because we are media-jaded enough to know: ever since Bill Clinton was able to dodge and weave and Oprahfy his way out of impeachment and a soiled legacy (albeit with huge help from his wife and the hypocrite Republicans witch-hunting him on the other side), such falls from grace are easily overcome if one follows The Formula. It usually calls for a public apology or self-flagellation of some sort. If the media likes you already and is sad for your demise, all the better.

This week I’ve noticed no less than four (not counting Petraeus) such redemptions on the rise or in already full good standing with the fickle yet forgiving (not to mention dull and attention-deficited) American public. I read in this Atlantic piece that ex-con “Casino Jack” Abramoff, whose swindle of Native Americans was much gentler (but no less diminishing) than dear old Andrew Jackson’s dark dealings, is now getting $15,000 a speech, has his own radio show and is back charming the press — all because he embraces his own smarminess as a learning tool for others.

The New And Improved Jack Abramoff

Saint Jack?

Then in a typically milquetoast column by Al Kamen at The Washington Post, we hear that prostitute proffering pol, Sen. David Vitter, is “back in the good graces of voters and colleagues alike,” and that former Gov. Mark Sanford, who actually disappeared for six days while having an affair, “has a legitimate shot at becoming the Republican candidate” for a special congressional election.

Then, NC-17 Twitterbug Anthony Weiner, a former (married) congressman from New York who couldn’t keep his underpants and his texting separate, has reportedly “tested the waters with polls” gauging the public’s willingness to give him another try. Not sure what the testing has “revealed,” but just the mention of it suggests he thinks he is on the road to Clintemption, too.

The thing with Petraeus is his journey is going to be a short one, guarantee it. You can see it in the writing accompanying the story of his “apology speech.” He is invariably called “hero of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” who “was credited with reshaping the nation’s counterinsurgency strategy,” and “turning the tide in the U.S favor in both Iraq and Afghanistan and making the U.S safer from terrorism.” (That was from the “liberal” AP by the way.

The AP went on:

Another longtime crisis communications expert, Howard Bragman, said Petraeus has handled the situation perfectly so far and he expects he’ll continue to do so. He noted that unlike former President Bill Clinton, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards and other public figures caught in extramarital affairs, Petraeus didn’t try to lie his way out of it, immediately took responsibility and moved on.

“I think the world is open to him now,” said Bragman, vice chairman of the image-building company Reputation.com. “I think he can do whatever he wants. Realistically, he can even run for public office, although I don’t think he’d want to because he can make more money privately.”

Here’s the real rub of it. Like disgraced Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus in his suit and tie won’t miss the medals (but don’t bet he won’t take them out from time to time), because he is going to be making tens of thousands of dollars tooling around the country, giving speeches, teaching doe-eyed college kids and consulting the hell out of the Beltway. Getting the apology out of the way makes it all happen faster.

This is not about sex. It is about betrayal. This is about consequences. Most importantly, it is about accountability, and the road Petraeus is taking will offer very little of that to us. He’ll leave us and our petty little disagreements over lies and torture and the failed strategy in Afghanistan far behind. Forget Paula Broadwell — that’s already ancient history. He’ll find plenty of new friends for the jump seat and even more VIP perks along the way.

Isn’t that what matters most in our Oprahfied, spoon-fed corn pone world?




42 Responses to “A Word (or Two) on the Petraeus ‘Apology’”

  1. Check out Broadwell's ties to AIPAC et al.

  2. General Rat Face has always been a big nobody.

  3. It's about sex. Sexual betrayal is between the betrayer and the betrayed. It's not the public's business or anyone other than him and his wife. It only becomes other people's business due to sexual jealousy.

    Petraoeus may be guilty of many atrocities unrelated to this subject, but on this subject he doesn't owe the public an apology.

  4. Yes, it's unfortunate the fourth branch of government, i.e., the major media focuses on Davey's sexual hanky-panky and not on the far more henious crimes he is guilty of, like Slick Bill with Monica Lewinsky just to name one example.

  5. It's about sex. Sexual betrayal is between the betrayer and the betrayed. It's not the public's business or anyone other than him and his wife. It only becomes other people's business due to sexual jealousy.

  6. I think Petraeus might have used the sex scandal to bail out making it seem like Obama and Hillary were pushing him out. He gets no blame for any malpractice in his job this way. I don’t really know much about him but if he really is a sneaky sniveling little weasel maybe all he did was cover himself and maneuver for deniability instead of dealing with the Libya embassy crisis. And Hillary and Obama were the victims of this guy. Obama needed to just come out and admit what happened and say he messed up like Reagan did with losing those marines in Lebanon.

  7. "Like disgraced Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus in his suit and tie won’t miss the medals … because he is going to be making tens of thousands of dollars tooling around the country, giving speeches… It is about betrayal. This is about consequences. Most importantly, it is about accountability… He’ll leave us and our petty little disagreements over lies and torture and the failed strategy in Afghanistan far behind."

    In his memoir, McChrystal “dodged” responsibility for his role in importing torture to Abu Gharib, for the use of routine torture by JSOC forces under his command, for his strategically flawed Afghan War “surge,” for the “Rolling Stone” profile that got him fired, and for his central role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan [for details, see the post ‘Never Shall I Fail My Comrades” at the Feral Firefighter blog].__

  8. Wow. I have met this man in person twice, both times shaking his hand, and served in commands under him. His strategy in Mosul in 2003 was brilliant to say the least. Ask people who know about these things (NOT the media) and they will tell you that his "surge" strategy was not only outside the box, but worked. The failure since then is all non-military…the politicians couldn't make it work (both Afghani and Iraqi). The Surge gave them the space and they proceeded to F it up. The body isn't even COLD and the revisionists are out in force.

  9. It is too bad about this, but the man is human. Politics is an ugly business…I prefer being a Soldier it's much safer and usually I can hit back at those that attack me. If we are going to talk about recriminations, how about we discuss the media's role at the start of the Iraq war (or more pointedly the LACK of reporting on the lack of WMD evidence et al). Complicity is an ugly word….

  10. Adultery is a violation military regulations (UCMJ). Yet Petraeus had an affair with a married woman with young children. Also, one of those medals on his chest is for valor even though he was never in a direc-fire situation, ie, he was never in combat.

  11. You're all just following orders, aren't you sport? Bad enough you volunteered to be a mercenary for Israel, but when your bosses order you to attack American citizens and throw us into detention camps, I wonder how many people will wave your flag and call you "heroes' then?

  12. I agree he took the correct first step in rehabilitating his career by voluntarily coming forward to admit his crime (Art. 134 of the UCMJ – Adultery). Now it is Paula Broadwell's turn to "Man Up' and follow his example with her own public admission of guilt. Obviously, however, she is not going to do that.

    Clearly, she has been advised to simply lay low and avoid publicity. She is reconciled to the fact her military (and public service) career is over. She is less than two years away from military retirement, and there seems to be no hurry on the government's part to court martial her before then. And you can bet she is already working on her memoirs … for which the film rights will make her a millionaire, probably several times over. And you can also bet the movie will have at least an 'R' rating.

    But I still gotta wonder … how can her husband stand to live in the same house with her? He should have filed for divorce months ago.

  13. The intelligence professionals would say you don't know what you're talking about.

  14. Howard Bragman, is that you? Perfect name for a PR guy.

  15. Ok article but completely unnecessary to bring Oprah’s name into this.

  16. how can her husband stand to live in the same house with her? He should have filed for divorce months ago. …

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