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Opinion: I Don't Care about the Petraeus Scandal, and Neither Should You

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David Petraeus speaks during his CIA Director confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee June 23, 2011.

The only thing that bothered me about David Petraeus’ affair was that you would have expected some better clandestine moves from the spymaster general of the United States. Other than that, I couldn’t care less, and neither should you.

He’s a four-star general, graduated from the top of his class at West Point, and has a PhD. from Princeton. By all accounts, he made Iraq and Afghanistan less of the total debacles than they were before he got there. He’s smart, qualified, and knows what he’s doing.

But he did what I would imagine almost every single person on earth currently drawing breath has done: He accidentally climbed into bed with crazy.

Was our national security in any way threatened by what he decided to do with his John Thomas? Was he meeting up with Natasha Badenov at the Courtyard by Marriott in Reston? Was he giving away the names of undercover operatives in his sleep? Was this writer a Chinese plant, or does she write harmless, People Magazine-style glowing biographies?

No? Ok then. This officially falls under the “none of our damned business” column.

I only get interested in sex scandals when there is hypocrisy involved. When the head of the National Association of Evangelicals had a tab going with a Craig’s List rent boy, or when it turned out that some of the sanctimonious busybodies over at that condo on C Street were mostly praying that they wouldn't get caught sleeping with women other than their wives—that was interesting. But if at no point in your career have you made monogamy and Christian values a big selling point of your candidacy, then SportsCenter is on. Leave me alone.

All I need from my politicians, generals or spymasters is competence at their jobs. Come to think of it, that’s all I really need from anybody. I don’t care if my plumber is happily married, is having an affair, is barely on speaking terms with his wife or has a porn collection that you can see from outer space. Did my sink stop leaking? Yes? Good. That should about cover any and all of my concerns. The rest of it is completely irrelevant. 

Can we stop to think for a second about how staggeringly pointless it is to expect sexual and moral purity from the head of the CIA? Or, for that matter, sexual and moral purity from our politicians? It’s self-defeating, incredibly hypocritical, none of our business, and, I think, utterly naive.

At what point did we decide that our politicians and civil servants needed to be exemplars of sexual morality for all of us? Your average politician has to do dozens of morally shady things on a daily basis in order simply to do his job properly.

He has to beg for money, take credit for things that he had nothing to do with, and shift blame to others. He has to vote for things that he either doesn't believe in or knows absolutely nothing about. He has to make big deals out of nothing and nothing out of big deals. He has to squeeze every nickel he can out of the federal coffers to bring home to his districts.

Anybody who expects those working on or around Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, or Langley to be paragons of personal virtue at all times needs to drop back down to earth.