Many leaders—not just in the military, but in politics, medicine, the corporate world, all realms of life—have a talent for compartmentalization. Still, there are limits to how far the human psyche can be stretched. It should be no surprise that, sometimes, when people assume such a lofty helm and such extreme levers of power, the sense of self-supremacy that goes with the job can extend to other realms of life. …

News of Petraeus’ affair sent such massive shockwaves across the nation not just because he’s so famous but also because he seemed like such a straight arrow. There was something mythic about Petraeus, more so than about any American officer in a generation. That was no accident; Petraeus spent years deliberately cultivating that myth. …

Petraeus was a genuinely talented general: intellectually agile, strategically minded, and tactically bold. But the myth-making enshrined him, in the eyes of many, as an icon. It’s hard to imagine that he remained entirely immune to the adoration.

It’s also worth noting that some of his greatest achievements during the Iraq war were the result of going a bit rogue. …