What are you laughing at?
Just one little moment — “Un momento poquito” — otherwise you’ll think this is piling on atop the schadenfreudean snarkfest already encircling the military’s four-star circus and the question, “Two Generals, Two Women and the FBI: What could possibly go wrong?”
Ethical lapses and all things Petraeus.
The puritanical scolds and the prurient muckrakers have converged and it’s all things David Petraeus right now. Even the Old Testament inspired “The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders” has been highlighted by an enthusiastic press tosignal the growing concern over the ethics of our nation’s senior military officers.Find the rubber gloves and ‘assume the position,’ the examination is overdue.
Since 9/11 and two wars, it’s been politically incorrect and patriotically unfashionable to do anything but nod with approbation, appreciation and admiration at anyone wearing the uniform, especially the fruit-salad festooned high-ranking soi-disantindispensables. But the ground beneath the bobbleheads has started to shift although slightly. And though I count among friends and family, many who have honorably served, the reality-check is a good thing.
The deification of man or of his institutions is never recommendable. Not gods but mere mortals — beneath our robes and chasubles, we put on our pants or wear our birettas like anyone else and even bestride the porcelain throne the same.
Given the ethical lapses this year by top military officers, which so far have culminated with the Petraeus scandal, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has justifiably asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review ethical training standards and come up with ways to keep officers away from trouble.
Certainly, the usual suspects on the leftare deriding the “total trust” and “blank checks” given to generals, particularly with respect to David Petraeus, “accustomed to being a demigod, expert at polishing his own celebrity and swaying public opinion.”
But the criticism has also emanated from unexpected sources, including a former officer ‘in-the-know’ like John L. Cook, author ofAfghanistan: The Perfect Failure, who says Petraeus’s real scandal is the legacy he left in Afghanistan. “What matters more was what Petraeus did as a commander, not what he did in the bedroom.”
And then there’s Roger Simon who also had a bit of biting judgmental commentary, “Petraeus dumb, she’s dumber,“ giving both Petraeus and “paramour” Paula Broadwell a verbal beat-down — calling the general “blockhead” and of Broadwell, “She is as smart as a bag of hammers.”
All this nastiness because Simon says they were“dimwitted” for using unsecure, traceable Gmail accounts to transmit sexually explicit emails.
. . . getting dumber.
No sooner had I digested Simon’s diatribe, where by the way, he also parenthetically praised Bill Clinton for having “gutted it out”and for lying “sensibly” when caught in his own sex scandal, I next found out the situation is more dire than I realized. Thanks to an unsettling report, “Dumb and Dumber: Study Says Humans Are Slowly Losing Their Smarts,” — don’t tell Simon but we’re all getting dumber! If you believe Simon, Petraeus and Broadwell may just be slightly ahead of the curve. The ‘dumb and dumber’ study was published atTrends in Geneticsand authored by Gerald Crabtree, a Stanford geneticist.
The soundtrack for sneaking around.
So even though the Petraeus affair still threatens to get weirder with each passing day, my real focus is not to pile on but instead to take notethat on the same November 9th that the Army 4-star resigned from the CIA, another genre-ranking ‘officer,’ Major Harris, also left the scene.
The untimely but coincidental death of Harris, an old school R & B stylist, was announced this week. And frankly, “Love wont let me wait,” his signature tune provided pretext and inspiration for this post.
The good Major’s riff and bodacious background sound effects “guaranteed to inspire” an appropriate musical soundtrack for sneaking around, military or otherwise — background music if you will to accompany this swordsman tale’s thrusts and gyrations.
The late Major was not a sworn member of any branch of military service. “Major” was his given name. But even after all these years, at least musically speaking, he had a military tactician’s taste for saucy soulful mischief.
Which finally leads me to the most appropriate soundtrack of all, especially now that the question’s also being asked, “Is Petraeus pillow talk a security threat?”
Aptly enough, the tune is called“Pillow Talk” and was performed by Sylvia Robinson whose obituary last year called her ‘the Mother of hip-hop.’
A Harris contemporary, Sylvia’s tune emanates the same sensual vibe as she breathily croons, “Un momento poquito — aye-aye-aye-aye.”
Photo Credits:”What are you laughing at?” by Dave Sizer
at Flickr, via Creative Commons-license required attribution; “Truth
(1896). Olin Warner (completed by Herbert Adams). Left bronze door at main entrance of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building,”at Wikipedia Commons, public domain;”Caricature of William Ballantine
. Caption reads “He resisted the temptation to cross-examine a Prince of the blood,
” by Alfred Thompson, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain; “David Petraeus, portrait photo,” by Monica King, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain; “Bill Clinton,” by DonkeyHotey
at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution.