The list of Washington sex scandals is long and, really, quite distinguished. One would have to include John F. Kennedy and, just to be fair, Thomas Jefferson. I want to mention Warren Harding, a randy devil he, and even Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose wartime affair with his driver, Capt. Kay Summersby, has long been alleged. Lyndon Johnson’s affairs have been documented by the indefatigable Robert Caro — and were all but conceded by the weary Lady Bird Johnson. These matters can hurt.
It may turn out that Petraeus’s greatest intelligence failure had nothing to do with what happened at Benghazi but with his utter disregard of the novelist Nelson Algren’s three rules of life: “Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.” Many a man, including Algren, who hooked up with the difficult Simone de Beauvoir, has disregarded these rules to his regret. Petraeus has to be added to this list. Broadwell was reckless with her e-mails and she then promoted her book with a bit more than wink: She was embedded with him. The book is called “All In.” Oh, grow up!
But now that it has all been done, is there a better man to fill Petraeus’s CIA seat than Petraeus himself? He is blackmail-proof and more than qualified for the job. He not only was a four-star general, a West Point grad (top 5 percent of his class) and a Princeton scholar but, in the quite recent past, he held the director’s job himself. The United States would not only be getting the best man for the job but also striking a blow against the sexual McCarthyism that has destroyed so many careers and, in wretched silence, has aborted many a political career before it was even announced.