When he pushed a counterinsurgency strategy for Iraq, President George W. Bush said yes. When he advised President Barack Obama to replicate the surge in Afghanistan, the new president overruled his own vice president and agreed. When Obama appointed Petraeus to run the CIA last year, the Senate confirmed him — 94 to nothing. …

So when Petraeus fell from grace Friday, the drop was a long one. It stunned the political world precisely because he was so widely regarded as the model modern soldier — a thinker in fatigues who married the daughter of the superintendent of his alma mater, West Point, and earned a Ph.D. at Princeton. But neither his reputation nor his career could survive the shock of the extramarital affair he revealed in resigning from his post — a decision that came under the pressure of an FBI investigation that threatened to make things even uglier, according to an intelligence community source who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity. …

It wasn’t just other people who thought highly of Petraeus. His nickname — “King David” — was sometimes used by subordinates to mock his assessment of himself. He courted the press and catered to reporters who came to see real war in Iraq — and he was known for sending them autographed glossies of himself afterward. But few questioned his smarts, his talent, his honor or his dedication to his country.