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David Simon: Media's Petraeus Sex Obsession Is Dangerous, Destructive

Enough. This is just sex. This is just people.

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I’m neither an admirer nor detractor of General Petraeus.  But I am most definitely a detractor of what journalism has become in this country, of what passes for the qualitative analysis of our society and its problems.  And I’ve paid enough attention to the human condition to no longer take seriously the notion that anyone who lets penis or vagina rub against the wrong person, who is indiscreet in doing so, and who then tells the truth about it when confronted by an FBI agent is unfit for either citizenship or public service.  I certainly know enough about the human condition to know that all kinds of people — smart and dumb, powerful and powerless — are capable of finding themselves in such a circumstance and shaking their heads at just how far they strayed, at just how indiscreet they were in their very ordinary, human hunger, and how they have hurt those closest to them. Sex, done right, is some powerful shit.  And when Americans begin to accept the human condition for what it is rather than an opportunity to jeer at the other fellow for getting caught, then we will be, if nothing else, a little bit more grown up.  I remember when Francois Mitterand’s wife and mistress walked beside each other in the French premier’s funeral procession and few in that country thought it remarkable.  The French have got their problems, but in some respects, they make our country, our political commentary, seem as mature and insightful as a fourteen-year-old unsticking the pages of his dad’s just-discovered skin mags.  It’s a peculiar American hypocrisy that only the worst kind of  journalistic hack would readily and willingly embrace as a meaningful metric.

We’ve caught some of the smartest and most commited public men and women with their pants at their ankles.  Time and again, we’ve had our fun.  We’ve roundly mocked them for the very weaknesses that are so utterly our own.  Reporters who have at points in their lives fucked themselves silly in hotel rooms across this great land of ours while pursuing the infidelities of more public men with righteous glee — these are not men and women who are much inclined to any real moment of self reflection, but then who among us really is?  This kind of hypocrisy requires a complicit silence and a ritual wiping of the memory before every byline.  Well, I’m 52 years old and I will admit that I have not lived this long without occasionally misplacing my penis.  For shame, yeah.  And so, being fully complicit in the human comedy, the last thing I’m going to mock is the mistakes that others make in the rush to bed, or why they do so.

But for those who love throwing stones, is it too much to ask that their aim be true? That they limit the target to Darwinian compulsion, to ordinary, and yes, at times, unthinking human desire.  That they not equip themselves to judge the totality of a public servant’s entire career and works solely with the details of whatever sexual misadventure we happen to discover.  Roosevelt was a smart guy.  So was Eisenhower.  Clinton might be the smartest president of my generation.  And David Petraeus saw and spoke to the folly of Iraq before the rest of America was cheering the fall of Saddam’s statue.  And he stayed long after that folly was evident to work at a remedy for and an extrication from that tragic intervention.

If we can judge stupidity by solitary lapses, then Roger Simon, by dint of this recent column could rightly be judged a moron.  And if we’re going to free associate stupidity with the public discovery of sexual misadventure, such vacuous shit as Mr. Simon just offered up virtually requires him to be caught unawares in a Nuevo Laredo whorehouse with a fistful of fifties.

 
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