Remember in old movies when an Army general is disgraced? They line up the troops and march him front and center. Another general steps forward, rips off the guy’s medals, stomps on his brass stars and then breaks the poor guy’s sword in half.
From the latest news reports, it may happen … at least symbolically … to four-star General David Petraeus. He may have survived a distinguished record of many battles, except the battle of the sexes, only to suffer a symbolic broken sword.
Petraeus, earlier mentioned as a potential Presidential candidate for next year, could be charged with a federal crime. He may have disclosed … while unclothed … some government secrets with an extramarital ladyfriend. That pillow talk cost him the job as boss of the Central Intelligence Agency, and may lead to even more serious actions.
Of course, the potential legal process against the general would have to be initiated by the Justice Department, and ultimately approved by the White House. This, of course, will raise all kinds of political questions. Meanwhile, am I one of the few who remember a hauntingly similar situation to the Petraeus dilemma?
It happened 70 years ago. Dwight D. Eisenhower, another married four-star general, was very busy with World War II in Europe. He was also very busy with a young British lady he commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Army to serve as his … ahem … chauffeur.
The details of the affair were never officially acknowledged, but rumors are that Ike was called on the carpet by his furious boss, Chief of Staff General George Marshall. He was ordered to end the affair or face disgrace, maybe even have his sword snapped.
Well, whatever happened to Ike? Did he, like Hamlet and Custer, suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? No, he wasn’t drummed out of the Army for his pillow talk. He went on to eight years of clean sheets in the White House.