Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Great, the Very Great, the Oh So Great, Petraeus

by Glenn Greenwald


A prime rule of US political culture is that nothing rivets, animates or delights the political media like a sex scandal. From Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer to John Edwards, Larry Craig and David Vitter, their titillation and joy is palpable as they revel in every last arousing detail. This giddy package is delivered draped in a sanctimonious wrapping: their excitement at reporting on these scandals is matched only by their self-righteous condemnations of the moral failings of the responsible person.
All of these behaviors have long been constant, inevitable features of every political sex scandal - until yesterday. Now, none of these sentiments is permitted because the newest salacious scandal features at its center Gen. David Petraeus, who resigned yesterday as CIA Director, citing an extramarital affair.
It has now been widely reported that the affair was with Paula Broadwell, the author of a truly fawning hagiography of Petraeus entitled "All In", and someone whom Petraeus, in her own words, "mentored" when he sat on her dissertation committee. The FBI discovered the affair when it investigated whether she had attempted to gain access to his emails and other classified information. In an interview about Broadwell's book that she gave to the Daily Show back in January, one that is incredibly fascinating and revealing to watch in retrospect, Jon Stewart identified this as the primary question raised by her biography of Petraeus: "is he awesome, or super-awesome?"
Gen. Petraeus is the single most revered man in the most venerated American institution: the National Security State and, specifically, its military. As a result, all the rules are different. Speaking ill of David Petraeus - or the military or CIA as an institution - is strictly prohibited within our adversarial watchdog press corps. Thus, even as he resigns in disgrace, leading media figures are alternatively mournful and worshipful as they discuss it.
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell appeared genuinely grief-stricken when shefirst reported Petraeus' resignation letter. "This is very painful", she began by announcing, as she wore a profoundly sad face. Her voice quivered with a mix of awe and distress as she read his resignation letter, savoring every word as though she were reciting from the Dead Sea Scrolls. On the Rachel Maddow Show later that night, Mitchell began her appearance by decreeing that "this is a personal tragedy" and said she was particularly sorrowful for "the men and women of the CIA, an agency that has many things to be proud about: many things to be proud about" [emphasis in original]. 

2 comments:

  1. one name, Lucius Aelius Sejanus

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  2. Greenwald links to here: http://www.lawfareblog.com/2012/11/counterterrorism-legal-policy-in-obamas-second-term/

    "The paradoxical bottom line: aggressive counterterrorism policies will, as a general matter, become more entrenched as a result of Obama’s election, compared to a Romney presidency."

    A cousin of the argument that it's better when the GOP is out of power since they then sometimes oppose big government. But for those who preferred Obama for civil rights reasons, maybe not.

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