Monday, November 12, 2012

Boring David

 We make her bear and raise our children
And then we leave her flat for being a fat old mother hen
We tell her home is the only place she should be
Then we complain that she's too unworldly to be our friend 
--Woman is the Nigger of the World, Yoko Ono 

Opposites attract 
It's physical 
Only logical 
--What's Love Got to do With It? 
Tina Turner 

Shame he's just this fallen idol 
Shattered like some broken glass 
Shame he's just this fallen idol 
Bits of paper for his past 
--Fallen Idol, The Tears

The saga of General Petraeus is neither surprising, novel, creative, nor sublime.  It is rather boring, sadly common and a mockery of the high-flown concepts like honor codes that supposedly guide the best of us.  It makes life a little more grotty.

It is also incompatible with membership in religious organizations, like Christianity (Though Christianity has a unique "Get of Jail Free" card which may be the loophole through which these "sinners" go; the idea will be developed in a later post.)  When we violate our bedrock codes at whim, what holds?

The story of Mr. Petraeus and his sex partner is nothing special in the pathetic annals of human behavior.  He and his wife will move on, as most people do, their lives a little more lackluster for wear, the weight of misery in the world ever-so-slightly re-weighted.  The sadly amusing thing to me is, religious people (as most Americans count themselves) have recourse to a rule book for good behavior, in this case: Thou shalt not commit adultery.  What would bite is if the good General issues a statement to the effect (as most upstanding people do) that his faith will bring him through this. No-- foul play: You are either All In, or you are out; do not invoke faith when you have forsaken it.

Reading the user comments following media coverage of the Petraeus story one sees the bifurcation in society.  Roughly half charge those who are disappointed in Mr. Petraeus with parochialism: "Everyone does it; get over it."  (There are permutations which alternately blame the wife for not being a pneumatic sex kitten and sympathize with his military life -- "It must get lonely".)  The other half hold up for the sanctity of marriage and the goodness of commitment, trust and all the other things that give comfort and safe harbor from life's storms

Count me with the latter group, parochial and seeking relationships as known quantities.  Not boring, my energy is not gotten from frenetic hook ups and "variety"; that drains me.  Looking at Petraeus or any man like him I think, what you have isn't very good.  Why the age-old impulse to take the swan dive?  Why do so few of us maintain something good? (Roll it back a few steps: Why do we not choose for the good at the get-go, groom it and revel in our good fortune?)

One answer is that The Good is different for all, despite the one-size fits all of religious or doctrinal creed. There are many ways to go in this world.  All that is required is that you make a choice, and that you honestly share that choice if you have a partner(s) running shotgun.  Immaculate honesty is the lubricant which best oils the wheels of any relationship.  

Having intimately known both behavioral styles (secretive versus direct, monogamous versus polygamous), the safe harbor, for me, is honesty.  Again, it all depends on your predilections and temperament.  If you need the hurricane and find the insane whirlwind stimulating, choose for it.  Or go be a deep-sea diver or drive race cars to satisfy your need for speed.  But the thing you do not get to do in good conscience is to take a lamb and behave like a wolf if you belong to a relational system based upon expectations of fealty.

When choosing for adultery your crime is betraying the others trust and rattling her belief system, nothing more, nothing less.  Your god is not surprised; he's already written you off as a sinner.  You have accomplished nothing rarefied or good.  Why not honestly go play in the shallow, crowded end of the pool, where there's fun aplenty and no entangling alliances?  The majority of people do not choose for the (openly) hedonic lifestyle because we have a sense that society would not long stand a majority who live by the creed, "More for me, and damn the rest."  What's good for you, if gotten at the others expense, is destructive.

We know eventually we'd get a stiletto in the back, so many of us make bargains, superficially making commitments that we do not intend to keep.  Those people keep a second and third book of accounts, thinking to hide something, because they have a sense of wrongdoing.  But the salvation for the rest of us is, their game eventually outs, maybe later than sooner, and wreckage will be the harvest.  But the marvelous thing about humans is their resiliency and ability to learn; the next wolf will be easier to spot.

An adjutant thought to this story is my disappointment in the media cabal over the last several years to convince us the marriage is passe, cheating, the norm.  While some of the studies upon which the latter assertion was predicated have been discredited, the stories persist and proliferate.  What is the agenda for downgrading these ideas which have allowed civil society to flourish?  Probably there is a political agenda, but that too is for another discussion.

Good luck to you, Mr. Petraeus.  I won't be looking at your or your lover's book.  And the wonder continues: When will we ever learn?

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Blogger Marc said...

I hear these lyrics in my head from the song "Fallen Angel" when someone gets on the public stage and is proclaimed 'great' in one manner or another:

Hell nobody's perfect
One hundred percent
No saint, no pope, no king no queen
No president

But our hunger for heroes
Has made us blind
We seek salvation
From the cup of human kind

But every time we hear the voice
Of some new abraham
We wake too late to realize
It was just another scam

Monday, November 12, 2012 at 2:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Deryle said...


What'd I say?

There it is .

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 12:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

The Penguin had an interesting take on this


Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 11:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

The thing about all this, though, Lisa, is that we have no real idea about how Dave and Holly Petraeus' marriage works.

If, as it is statistically likely, they have a traditional arrangement where they promised to "forsake all others" and each believed the other to be honoring that, then, yes, this is just a simple tale of a guy unable to stop thinking with his dick. Skeevy, boring, same-old same-old.

But we have no idea whether that's true. It's like assuming that everyone we meet is straight, or likes white bread, or wears underpants of their gender.

That's the only thing about the sexual aspect of this idiotic business that exercises me in any way. We haven't the slightest idea what arrangement these people have, and yet we're ready to jump all in their stuff assuming that there's some sort of story here.

We really are a bunch of panty-sniffing voyeurs. No surprise there, either! But rather dismal, all the same...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

As I say, it's unfortunately quite dreary and workaday, but because of his high positions, his indiscretion becomes noteworthy.

Of course it's also a tragedy on the personal, but like in The Naked City, "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them." I don't see why Mrs. Petraeus was livid at hearing the news, if this was to have been an unspoken agreement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 1:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

"I don't see why Mrs. Petraeus was livid at hearing the news, if this was to have been an unspoken agreement."

But for me that's the one thing we have no real idea about.

I haven't been able to get any sort of sense from the news what the heartfelt reactions of everyone involved in this was. Not the public protestations but the real, honest, straight from the ego response.

I mean, let's assume for the moment that the Petraeuses DID have some sort of sneaky little setup where Dave - who, let's say, liked to dress up in Marie Antoinette drag and play "The Naughty Countess and the Stern Sans-culotte" - got to go play with Paula, who shared his kink, with the express permission of Holly, who didn't.

When he wanted plain vanilla slap-and-tickle, home again home again jiggety-jig.

Do you suppose that THAT would play any better in the public press?

So let's assume I'm the supposedly betrayed wife. Would I respond with a casual "Yeah, well, that's just how Dave and I roll..."? Can you imagine how the press and the panty-sniffing public would react? You'd be a laughingstock and a byword from here to CNN...

So I'm not sure if Holly being publicly "livid" is a dead bang for adultery. I'd bet that she'd almost HAVE to respond in some similar way regardless of the circumstances.

And that's my problem with this whole tempest in a teapot. We know nothing of the people, the relationships, the likes and dislikes, the emotional, intellectual, and sexual kinks and cravings of anyone involved in this entire business.

Which prevents absolutely no one from jumping all over them.

There are some huge issues of privacy, corruption, nepotism, and public probity at issue here - which have gone largely unexamined and unremarked on while we most of us ooh and aah over who stuck what in whom...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 5:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I'm all for live-and-let-live. However, I'll admit to having strong feelings for the issue of infidelity and commo having been an unwitting part of an open relationship. (Saith the man to me, upon confrontation, "Oh, I'm very discreet ..." Whaaa?!? Apparently not THAT discreet :)) It's only fair when it's open all the way 'round, no?

So aside from matters of State, I am addressing this as a serious, ubiquitous moral issue, and one which many in the press have sought to exploit to further their agenda of, "Affair? Meh." But this issue of diluting marriage vows is not "meh" to me; I have seen a bold shift to propagandizing the END OF (marriage, fidelity, men, etc.), and am frankly tired of it.

So I will take this opportunity to explore my thinking, without lurid exploitation of what probably is, as I say, a rather boring affair.

And .. if this were a understood and ongoing, why would we have heard anything previously, and why the subterfuge at all? It would be an "understood" at all levels, and it apparently was not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 7:02:00 PM GMT-5  

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