Spyfail: Chasing the Strange

Another day, another scandal. And this one just keeps getting better and better.

General David Petraeus resigned his position as head of the CIA last week in the wake of affair revelations. His mistress, Paula Broadwell, is an attractive, dark-haired, 40-year-old married mother of two who was, by all accounts, very close to the General.

Now there come revelations of another other woman, although it’s not clear as to whether she was actually his mistress. The second woman is Jill Kelley, an attractive, dark-haired 37-year-old married mother of three who worked as a military social liaison, is described as a Florida Socialite,  and was, apparently, close to both Petraeus and his wife.

You can read all the salacious details herehere and here.

In a nutshell here’s what happened: General Petraeus met Paula Broadwell in 2006. At some point their relationship turned into an affair. She wrote a fawning biography of him (All In-you can’t make this stuff up) and hit the talk show circuit . She was invited to many high-profile events as his guest and the closeness of their relationship did not go unnoticed: her hero-worship of the General was well-known.

Jill Kelley remains something of a mystery, but according to reports she was also close to the General, as well as his wife, and has known him for roughly five years.

The whole hullaballoo came to light when Mrs. Broadwell sent Mrs. Kelley some threatening emails warning Mrs. Kelley off ‘her’ man. The emails came from the General’s private gmail account, which Broadwell seems to have had access to. Mrs. Kelley felt sufficiently threatened by the emails to contact the FBI and the rest is all just so much soap opera history.

Now to the spouses: General Petraeus has been married to Holly Petraeus for nearly 40 years. Holly is a 60-year-old woman who has spent most of her adult life as a presumably loyal military wife, shifting base more than 30 times during their life together while raising two now-grown children. And she’s no slouch when it comes to being a driven and dynamic woman. Mr. Broadwell is a 43-year-old radiologist with a burgeoning career. Mr. Kelley is successful surgeon. In an odd bit of trivia both Mr. Broadwell and Mr. Kelley are named Scott.

What gets my goat about this story is, as usual, the response of the great unwashed internet masses. Again and again, as I read through reader comments on the various reports, I see themes emerging.

One theme goes something like this: ‘Heh, well, have you seen his wife? No wonder he was banging those chicks on the side. Come on! They’re hot, the wife’s not!’ 

Here’s a picture of Holly Petraeus.

Yes, it would seem that Holly Petraeus had the temerity – the audacity – to get middle aged, even old. Could she do something about her hair? Sure. Could she stand to lose a few pounds? You betcha.  Is her worth predicated on how she looks? That would be a big, fat NO.

She’s just a woman, like many others, who seemingly devoted her life to her husband and her family – and who now has dedicated herself to working with military families – and what does she get? Not only a kick in the teeth from her husband, but kick after kick from strangers around the world who are essentially saying that they consider her unfuckable and because they, these strangers who do not know her, consider her unfuckable and see no value in anything else about her then hey, go for it General, you deserve a break today.

The idea that the General just absolutely had to cheat on his wife because she got old and perhaps a tad frumpy is absurd, in part because he is, as my Grandma used to say, no oil painting himself.



Look, I’m not unaware that a long marriage can be a challenge, particularly in the sex department. It takes work to keep the fires burning and after 40 years maybe they ran out of new games to play. The human sexual drive is a strange and mysterious force and we all like to get sweaty between the sheets, even when we’re 60.

What I don’t get is how any marital boredom gives the General the green light to go have sex under a desk with his mistress. Or to engage in any affair at all. If the General wanted some strange he could have done the honourable thing by gracefully and respectfully divorcing his wife. In doing so before he started chasing skirt he could have saved himself – and more importantly, his wife – a lot of pain, embarrassment and humiliation.

But he didn’t do that and you want to know why? Because if he had done that all those years he spent building up a career and an image would have been pissed away in a millisecond. And so too would have been his rumoured Presidential run in 2016. So he decided to be a cake eater, to have his side-pieces but still keep the veneer of a loyal married man.

The other thing that irks the crap out of me is the attitude that the General is somehow a victim of Paula Broadwell, as if she was some sort of all-powerful Jezebel who lured him into her bed (or under his desk) against his will. Give me a break. Is someone going to try to tell me that this man, who has led whole armies into battle, was too weak to resist Broadwell’s Magical Vagina of Awesomeness? If you believe that, well, yes, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn…

The final thing that bugs me is the idea that a woman’s worth is based solely on her looks, that somehow this is all Holly Petraeus’ fault for not looking like a 30-something year old hottie. Never mind that she’s stood loyally by the General through nearly 40 years of marriage, raising two children and most likely being his main source of support during his rise through the ranks. Nope. None of that seems to mean anything because the bitch got old. Or so it seems quite a few people believe.

Here’s what I say: the General is just another guy who made it all about himself. He pursued his dreams and aspirations while his wife set aside her own in order to help him. I would not be surprised if this is not his first time at the rodeo and that it’s simply the first time he got caught. Let’s be really honest here: if he was bored then you just know that she was as well. But Holly doesn’t appear to have picked up a string of lovers to satiate her needs.

So what we have here is the age old cliché of a bored married guy who didn’t have the brains, balls or intelligence to keep things interesting in the marital bed. Instead he’s left standing before the world, naked, with dick in hand, exposed for what he is: a Narcissistic asshole who thought he was entitled to have it all: the wife, the hottie mistress, the respect of the world.

Poetic justice would be that he lose all three.

As the Pentagon Turns…


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