My crackpot theory about Petraeus

I have been following Gen. Petraeus’s career with concern and dismay ever since he became the most recognizable face of the U.S. military late in the Bush administration. His role in the “surge,” his supposedly amazing doctrine of “counterinsurgency,” his appearance on the Daily Show (where Jon Stewart was absolutely fawning) — all this resulted in presidential speculation among our media elites. For reasons of general anti-militarism, I did not find the prospect of a President Petraeus appealling, especially when he appeared to be inappropriately opposing Obama’s foreign policy early in the term.

Thus I was relieved when Obama appointed him to head the CIA — i.e., pushing him out of the military and into a role where a public profile was obviously inappropriate, tainting him in the eyes of maniacal Republican primary voters, and basically making a 2012 presidential run impossible. My assumption is that the plan was to keep him around until they could find some bullshit reason to get rid of him altogether, and lo and behold, mere days after the election we find out that Petraeus has committed a heinous crime almost unheard-of among powerful men: marital infidelity! Surely he must resign in disgrace!

What do you think, dear readers? Am I reading too much 11-dimensional chess into this series of events? Does it smack of the “Chicago-style politics” that — in our heart of hearts — we can only wish Obama were actually capable of?

11 thoughts on “My crackpot theory about Petraeus

  1. A few issues:

    1) Marital infidelity by the CIA director is a bit different than marital infidelity by the secretary of Health and Human Services – the thing about the CIA director having an affair isn’t that it’s unchristian – it’s that it, and *the fact that he tried to hide it* compromises him and opens him up to a variety of blackmail and other firms of coercion which are downright dangerous to national security. So yes, he needed to resign in a way that say, Eric Holder wouldn’t have.

    2) given 1), I find it hard to read as a takedown per se. Putting him in at the CIA was definitely an attempt to co-opt/slow his political rise, but I don’t buy following that through to his ousting as step two of the master plan. It’d e been easier and more politically prudent to just make him take the fall for Benghazi, regardless of whether there was actually any malfeasance in that situation, than it is to do this. This feels like a real scandal, and a pretty sad one.

  2. The whole thing borders on surrealism — the woman who was harassed (via email) by Broadwell is an “unpaid liaison” between a Tampa Bay Air Force base and the nearby public, which means she threw lavish parties to which generals and FBI big-wigs attended (and even Petraeus showed up once in a 28 car motorcade). The liaison got spooked by the harassing emails (why send emails to this person?) and called the FBI. One FBI agent who happens to be a conservative got wind of the case, was not assigned to it, but thought that the FBI was burying it to save Obama’s election, so he picked up the case *on his own* and figured out Petraeus was having an affair with Broadwell — *and then sent shirtless photos to the liaison.* He then tipped off Eric Cantor a few weeks before the election so that Cantor could spill the beans on this, um, decidedly non-Obamacentric scandal, and Cantor declined (!) Meanwhile, a high-ranking General involved in the party scene sent 30,000 “inappropriate emails” to the liaison, as well. (What is going on here?) I don’t think this is 11-dimensional chess — I think we are getting a tiny peek at the depraved and bizarre world of people invested with significant amounts of power and no oversight. Either that, or the Cohen brothers decided to re-make “Burn After Reading” and convinced everyone that it was happening in real life.

  3. I just can’t take the “national security risk” of someone blackmailing Petraeus seriously. Perhaps that’s my mental block here — maybe Petraeus can, or maybe he wants to avoid the appearance of evil, etc.

    A lot of the details Brennan mentions are new to me, so this theory could obviously be totally, totally wrong. I’m a little amused by the siren-like qualities that Jill Kelly apparently possesses — no man can resist her! If she’s not busy, maybe she can be Secretary of State once Hillary resigns?

  4. I think there’s something here, but my uninformed suspicion is that, although the blackmail/hacking rationale is probably bogus, Petraeus realized that there are plenty of powerful people in DC who would like to see him fall (not limited to the Obama administration), and who would have the connections to make the story stick. If he waited for someone to actually take him down, he would have a much harder time salvaging any hope of a political career. So he got ahead of it, as a skilled politician does. He’ll take his lumps for a while, but I doubt if we’ve seen the last of him.

  5. So yes, he needed to resign in a way that say, Eric Holder wouldn’t have.

    He can’t very well be blackmailed about something that’s in the open, though. He needed to resign … or cop to it.

  6. Have you seen the latest on this? Check out TPM — invocations of “diplomatic inviolability” from an “unofficial liaison” are just too much.

  7. Why do I keep getting the feeling that Patraeus has intentionally pulled a proverbial sweater thread here. The referendum on adultery in government was held in the 90’s was it not?

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