Somewhere in the halls of government in Peking, and Moscow, and Havana, and Caracas, and Kabul (or Karachi, or wherever in hell Al Qaeda hangs its turban these days) a bunch of people who wish the United States no good must be slapping their thighs and texting each other “ROTF!!!” messages.
I could be wrong, but from where I sit, the entire United States is getting its knickers in a twist over what properly ought to be regarded as nothing more than a tempest in a teapot. (How’s that for two clichés in one sentence?)
The facts so far – or at least so far
as I think I can figure them out:
General David Patraeus, until a few news cycles ago the lead dog at the CIA, had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. That’s not formidably surprising. They had a lot in common. They both graduated from West Point. They both like to stay in shape. She's interested in him and he's also interested in him. And he is, or was, a powerful man while she’s a younger woman. It’s a match made in heaven, even if it was made by some very mischievous angels who ought to have their wings whupped.
After a while, if I’ve followed the convoluted story correctly, Patreus broke off the relationship with Paula. This made Paula feel so insecure that she started acting paranoid and sent another woman, named Jill Kelley, a whole bunch of non-violent but allegedly abusive e-mails saying, in effect, “keep your hands off my guy.”
That would be something close to hubris, considering that General Patraeus is legally married to a very nice woman named Holly Patraeus, an innocent bystander in this brutal farce, but nevertheless the only woman entitled to call David Patraeus “my guy” if she still wants to. (By the way, is “brutal farce” an oxymoron? Umm, I’ll vote for no in this case.)
Freaking out to the FBI
Then Jill Kelley, who so far as I know never laid a hand on any part of General Patraeus’ body, freaks out and goes to a pal of hers in the FBI, who gets an FBI Cyber Squad to investigate the nasty e-mails she’s been receiving. Which shows how much power a pretty woman with a friend in the FBI can have. I couldn’t even get the FBI to investigate a case of wide spread cyber fraud when I was all but able to hand over the perpetrator to them on a silver platter, with the physical evidence. Even after I put the story out on the Internet, I got no response.
Well hey, that’s the FBI for you. So anyway the FBI starts to investigate Paula’s e-mails, but then an FBI agent sends Jill a picture of himself shirtless, which demonstrates either that he never read about the Chris Lee case less than a year ago, or that guys at the FBI really don’t have enough to do.
But this leads to a check of Jill’s e-mail, which reveals an abnormal level of correspondence with a U.S. Marines General, John R. Allen. So suddenly the Marines get sucked (no pun intended) into this flock of canards, too.
And now everybody’s investigating everything. Diane Feinstein is irked that the Senate Intelligence Committee wasn’t told about – well, whatever it is. Ditto the house. Ditto various Republican senators, who, right in character, are leaping at an opportunity to bloviate about something everybody can understand, if not really follow. Hey, it’s confusing, but it sounds sexy.
The only real victim of this face, so far as I can see from here in front of my cranky computer, is the General’s very nice wife, Holly Patraeus. And probably Mrs. Allen, now, too, if there is a Mrs. Allen. (Or if there still will be one six months from now.)
General Petraeus did the right thing and quickly resigned from the CIA, rather than try to tough out and deny the undeniable, as assorted rascals from Anthony Weiner to Lance Armstrong have done. It’s uncertain so far, at least to me, whether General Allen did anything at all, other than answer a whole bunch of e-mails, so many that it makes me wonder whether he has enough to do.
The old "woman scorned" story
Somehow all this reminds me of a story I covered out in Brooklyn years ago when I was a young newspaper reporter. (You’ll find a zillion – well anyway, a bunch of – good yarns like this in my e-book, “HEIRESS STRANGLED IN MOLTEN CHOCOLATE AT NAZI SEX ORGY! A memoir.”)
Seems that a male model got engaged to a pretty girl in the outer reaches of Brooklyn. The date was set. The engagement presents started arriving. Then he dumped her – and took off with the gifts. She went to the police, full of righteous rage, to report his theft of their engagement gifts.
But the cops told the girl that under the law engagement presents were mutually owned, and that therefore there was legally no theft. She looked ready to explode. Sulfurous smoke was all but jetting out of her ears. You could almost see the mushroom cloud in her eyes.
“Well okay then!” she exploded. “Would you be interested if I told you he committed armed robbery?”
That interested the cops. So the jilted bride-to-be then revealed that she and her ex-fiancee had held up a shoe repair store at gunpoint. They didn't get much money from a cobbler, but it was still armed robbery.
That enabled her to get even, even though it cost her.
They both ended up in the slammer.
So enough reminiscing. We’re at the edge of a fiscal cliff. The economy is about to fall off into the abyss. The future of America is at stake. Syria is coming apart at the seams And all the press and Congress can say is, “What did the President know about this and when did he know it? And why weren’t the House and Senate informed of whatever-it-is sooner?”
Civilizations get the collapses they deserve.