Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poor Judgment

I'm afraid I had to giggle when Petraeus solemnly averred that he had shown poor judgment in having an affair. Does anyone actually use their judgment when they have an affair? Weigh this with that, take one thing with another, ask their staff for second opinions? If he actually used his judgment, sure, then it was pretty damn poor. But I would guess that he was just tired of using his judgment. He used his judgment all day long, in life-and-death decisions, and there came a point when he was sick of it, and told it to go take a hike. All of us do that eventually, but most of us, fortunately for the world, are exposed to fewer temptations of lesser moment. The fact that we ate two entire bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies doesn't make the front page of the New York Times, and we don't have to tender our resignation about it.

My first thought, when I saw Paula Broadwell on the Jon Stewart Show, was, “Ah, now there's trouble!” (Well that's not quite accurate, my first thought was “my God, what lovely arms!” Trouble, that was my second thought.) But Paula Broadwell is not quite my type, and she would never adore me, so I needn't congratulate myself on my perception. The fact is, mutatis mutandis, I might have done exactly the same thing as General Petraeus. Which I'm not particularly proud of, but not I'm not especially ashamed of it, either. Titanic feats of will, white-knuckling one's way against temptation, are not a special interest of mine.

David Petraeus did show poor judgment, but it wasn't when he decided to have an affair – if he ever did such an improbable thing. He showed poor judgment when he had the first inkling that such a thing was possible, and he kept the door open: when he let things set themselves up so that more and stronger temptations would keep on arriving. He's the only one who knows when that was: but I'm guessing it was long before the first email that would have interested the FBI.


Anne said...

I guess it's a sign of the times. Today it's "poor judgement" for a general to have an affair. A generation ago, when Eisenhower was having an affair with his jeep driver, it wasn't a matter of national security, nor did it end his career. But, as Maureen Dowd said, Petraeus showed really poor judgement when he persuaded the then new president Obama to prolong the war in Afghanistan. What I hope will come of all this tawdriness is that the American public will be less likely to uncritically adore generals and the military.

Anne said...
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Dale said...

(That was just a duplicate comment, that I removed there.) Anne, yes, I always get nervous when some general becomes the pet of the nation, especially if he's fluent in democrat :-)