David Simon: Media's Petraeus Sex Obsession Is Dangerous, Destructive
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And now comes General Petraeus.
His penis, too, has roamed. And now he is grist for the usual mill. And there will be three themes that we must now endure ad nauseum from all of the men and women of our media elite who will gather around their laptops and type so furiously as to obliterate everything they actually know about human sexuality and achieve the necessary velocity for judgment and arrogance:
1) Man, this guy was dumb. Ha hah!
2) Too dumb to be the Director of C.I.A. Isn’t that a sensitive position? Shouldn’t his penis only show itself in the most careful moments, so as to protect a great nation’s secrets? Isn’t he therefore incompetent? As well as:
2a) Didn’t he know he was boning a crazy lady? The head of the CIA should be smarter than to be boning crazy ladies, right?
And lastly, because there is always a place for dumbass partisanship:
3) How does this affect the Democrats? How does it affect the Republicans? When can we put a -gate on the end of this scandal?
To wit, let us parse the work of one Roger Simon, my namesake alas, a veteran political writer currently slinging witticisms and paper-thin insight for Politico.com:
“Gen. David Petraeus is dumb, she’s dumber.”
That’s the headline. Let’s venture southward into the prose and see what we find:
Ah, Mr. Simon says the general should not have resigned because he’s involved in a sex scandal. No, “he should have resigned because if he were any more dimwitted, you would have had to water him.”
Ha, hah! That’s great stuff. Mr. Simon is saying that the head of the CIA is as dumb as plant. Because you have to water them. A tasty bon mot, and we’re off and running. Mr. Simon then offers to leave aside “the sordid, yet fascinating details” of the general’s private life — after which a sordid, yet fascinating detail is quickly cited — and instead focus intently on all of ways in which General Petraeus and his paramour were indifferent to being discovered — their use of email, the girlfriend’s jealous anger and her foolish compulsion in expressing that anger in writing to a perceived rival, and finally, Petraus being unwilling to act sensibly when confronted by the FBI: ”When Bill Clinton was caught in a sex scandal, he lied through his teeth until they came up with the DNA. Not Petraeus. He folded immediately…and admitted everything.”
So, now that we’ve had our fun chronicling how poorly these two people have handled their personal affair, it is time for Mr. Simon to turn his level gaze on General Petraus as the public man. Just what did Petraeus do so that we thought he had any merit in the first place? And Roger Simon — a man who has covered politics all his life, who is charged by a news organization that wishes to be a serious prism by which Americans can evaluate the political world and its relationship to actual issues and policy — he has exactly this to say:
He was once on an airplane five years ago with John McCain. And he interviewed McCain, who admired Petraeus, who thought him charismatic, who then, in this interview, reduced the general to an anecdote: “One thing he did was have a bag of money, and he would go around and say, “OK, build this irrigation ditch, buy yourself a generator.”
This is more than enough for national political columnist Roger Simon to look down at the valley of the dumb and dumber from the high mesa of his sun-kissed laptop and joke about being impressed, since he is from Chicago and knows the value of carrying around bags of money with which to dispense favors. And then Mr. Simon offer his grave doubts — based on what John McCain told him about David Petraeus second-hand, in an offhand interview on a plane between Cedar Rapids and Davenport — that Petraeus, despite his education, his military experience, or any other qualification, was the man to save Iraq or Afghanistan. As if such a man even exists.