Women love a man in a uniform. Men love a woman out of a uniform. Old verities stand affirmed by the intelligence that ousted the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
General David Petraeus commanded U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But what man is really in command when face-to-face with a determined Paula Broadwell? The author of the appropriately titled "All In" conquered Petraeus in a way that neither the Taliban nor al Qaeda could. Terrorists aren't the only ones who target generals.
Broadwell gives new meaning to "hagiographer." The overused term, which 99 percent of the time tells us more about the reader's bias toward the subject than the writer's, for once doesn't go far enough. Not since Maya Angelou finished the last of her six autobiographies has a biographer worshipped a subject so completely.
And it's not hard to see what the general saw in the comely camp follower.
Who becomes homecoming queen and valedictorian? Paula Broadwell does.
The Army Reserves lieutenant colonel, like her retired general ex-boyfriend, graduated from West Point. The Wall Street Journal reports that Broadwell finished twelfth among 1,353 woman in Charlotte's half-marathon last year at a 7:21-mile pace -- not the general's top speed, but not bad. The alpha female performed sixty perfect pushups with ease on beta male Jon Stewart's program. Paula Broadwell can beat you up and break your heart.
At some point along the way she even perfected the come-hither gaze, evident in nearly all of the photos of her accompanying online stories. But, as any viewer of Fatal Attraction could tell you, the mischievous glance morphs into crazy eyes once another woman threatens marked territory. Broadwell's ultracompetitive spirit, which had served her so well in life, ultimately got the best of her. The stay-away-from-my-man emails, displaying a possessive streak only one who has possessed another's possession could possess, sent to the attractive and equally married Jill Kelley may have ensured that Broadwell's men -- her husband and boyfriend -- stay away for good.
Passion is hot. Crazy? Not so much.
Surely the electronic missives backfired in other ways. Taking extraordinary measures to remain anonymous ensures maximum curiosity. Welcome to the United States of TMZ. We really shouldn't know about this. But now that we do it's all that we want to know about. The American public, and their private investigators in the Fourth Estate, intrude more aggressively than the Stasi.
This, of course, pertains to private lives and not public actions. Mrs. Broadwell's interest in Petraeus reinvigorates the media's interest in the Benghazi attack of September 11. Did the political or intelligence wing come up with the "spontaneous demonstration" line? Why did the administration leave our guys to die? Did we detain terrorists there? The media may finally get the public answers for the questions they dared not ask during the campaign.
A dead ambassador just doesn't captivate the way a sexy adulteress does. The fifth commandment may trump the sixth as far as God is concerned. But the press doesn't see it that way. It usually takes something silly for journalists to take notice of something serious. It requires a sideshow for them to notice the circus.
Like Benghazi, the Petraeus-Broadwell story isn't as muddled as the mush-head media portrays it. Nietzsche's criticism of academics also works for journalists: They muddy the waters to make things seem deep.
Rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and complex coordination don't sprout from spontaneous demonstrations catalyzed by amateurish internet videos. One needn't have read any of the reports to correctly pin the killings on terrorists. Seeing the date above the byline would have sufficed.
The increasingly convoluted story -- shirtless pics from an FBI agent, strange claims of diplomatic protection, and hundreds of emails between another general and Broadwell's perceived rival -- about l'affaire Petraeus is nevertheless simple to understand. Why did one of the world's most powerful men risk reputation over a not-so-secret admirer? Don't read the articles. Look at the pictures.
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