I hate that I’m even writing about this because I typically hate to put any energy toward this kind of crap. But, lately it’s hard to ignore as it’s on the news every six seconds and the reactions to the story are so baffling to me that I can’t seem to get them out of my head.
Here is what I’m hearing, from men, and more shockingly, women: an affair is personal and shouldn’t come into play when judging a man’s job performance. Or, the one that gets me most: when are we going to stop being surprised when men of power have dalliances? This is just how they work. We should just expect it.
I have two arguments. The first, is the non-moral one. If a man can’t even keep his own house in order, I certainly do not want him in charge of my National Security. Think of the implications that come from keeping a secret like an affair. Think of how damaging that information would be if it came out. Think of how preoccupied people become sneaking around and trying to keep secrets that may take you down.
Now, think of those implications magnified because your job is keeping secrets and any opening you leave in yourself for people exposing or blackmailing or using your own sins against you exposes the world to danger.
Now that you’ve thought about that, and ask yourself, do you want a man’s “personal life” not to matter?
Then, my moral argument: when did we lower our standards so much that all our people of power need is a pulse and a nice smile to “do their job right”? Not so long ago, we impeached a President for sexual dalliances. (Ok not officially but you know that’s the story everyone remembers-not “obstruction of justice”) Now, we’re talking about how they shouldn’t be used against a man who, otherwise was doing great things. When did being a good person stop being a qualification for public service? I’m not saying we should expect perfection, but I happen to think NOT cheating on your spouse is a low bar-not a mark of perfection.
Look, I’m not discounting David Petraeus’s service to this country. I will admit that having an affair may not diminish anything he has accomplished professionally so far. I am just saying that we shouldn’t forgive, or even worse, expect shaky moral behavior from people just because they are in a position of power. In fact, quite the opposite should be true. If you are asking us to trust you with leading us, you should be able to lead your own life well first.
I know powerful men. You know powerful men. They aren’t all out cheating on their wives. It should stop being allowed and we should never grow so complacent that we expect it. No matter how well they do their jobs.
PS-All the chatter about the women? The “Socialite” and the Biographer and the implication that they are the bad guys here while all we hear about the man who put his stuff where it didn’t belong is what a great statesman he is? Yeah, that’s a post for another day. I’m far to ranty for that one today.
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