The Petraeus story combines two of Washington’s favorite subjects — national security intrigue and a tawdry sex scandal involving a very high profile public figure — and, if the coverage over the weekend is any indicator, seems unlikely to go away any time soon.I'm going to say "sex scandal" ranks much, much higher than "national security intrigue" on the ol' mediameter, based on the last four decades or so of examples. But the actual story is done. The guy resigned; that's pretty much the end o' the line, story-wise. If it's not going to go away anytime soon, it's because the Washington media establishment treats each and every sex scandal as if it were the most importantest thing ever, which is in turn because it is The Only Goddamn Thing They Are Truly Good At.
Petraeus’ resignation also comes on the eve of closed door hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee aimed at trying to find exactly what happened on Sept. 11, 2012 when four Americans — including Ambassador Chris Stevens — were killed in attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Petraeus has said he doesn’t plan to testify at the hearing despite some within Congress insisting he should.Curiously, when governing a nation of over 300 million people, sometimes several things are going on at once. Since the current Republican conspiracy consists of the word "Benghazi" surrounded by random other words, it stands to reason that every other single thing that happens in Washington will be related to it by one pointless strand or another. MUST CREDIT DRUDGE.
The Petraeus scandal — and its fallout — highlights the perils of the modern presidency and, specifically, the inability to stay on a single message for very long.Since the nation's capital and the massive national media organizations that cover it cannot possibly cover more than one thing at a time, there's no point in even pretending we can talk about other issues when there is a story about some important gentleman we have all heard of humiliating himself naked-wise. Our news schedule is pretty much booked for the next week or two. Or five. Better make it five.
President Obama clearly wanted to spend the week (at least) after the election capitalizing on the momentum/mandate gained in last Tuesday’s election to pressure congressional Republicans on the looming fiscal cliff negotiations.Oh for Christ's sake. The Republican "fiscal cliff," now? Go back to the sex scandal please. Yes, we all realize that the Republicans want to keep their tax cuts on rich people forever, and also don't want to go along with that stupid sequester thing that they themselves demanded the last time they engaged in this "the world is going to end unless everybody does what we say" bit of theater, and we all know that there is not a goddamn chance in hell that anyone is going to point out that none of this has shit-all to do with the deficit and everything to do with the Republicans once again saying that if they don't get what they want (massive social cuts) then they're going to shoot you and your mom and your dog and the first person you ever had an elementary school crush on, but please. Let's at least have a media with the basic competence to not choose the stupid Luntzian framing for every goddamn story that comes along. Hey, look! That tax cut kinda looks like Benghazi!
And while Obama will, of course, get plenty of questions on fiscal cliff, he’s also likely to now get his fair share of Petraeus-related questions too — none of which he has good or easy answers for.And why should he? Why is the president now presumed to be an expert on David Petraeus' penis? "Why gosh, Congress, I do not know why he had an affair, but I promise you I shall devote all of the forces of the FBI, CIA and Seal Team 6 to finding out exactly where this man's penis has been, in the last few years, and I apologize that I did not institute 24 hour drone surveillance of all important penises during those last four years. This will now be remedied."
I suppose this is the natural part of every Washington sex scandal. After the scandal breaks and all parties involved have been properly humiliated in front of the entire planet, we need to come up with some very serious-sounding reasons for still talking about it so that we can pretend our national media and at least three quarters of our government is not just a collection of sex-obsessed perverts. So we're going to pretend that this penis-related "security breach" may have resulted in our nation's top secret adultery technology being leaked to the Russians and/or al-Qaeda.
I know, I know. Trying to pretend that the Republican freakout about secret Benghazi conspiracies, the Republican freakout about the Fiscal Self Inflicted Economic Diaper Rash, and the latest Important Person Sexytimes Incident are three separate things is pointless. Oh, it's all connected all right. All three of them are ridiculous, pointless stories our most savvy media figures banter about in order to avoid thinking about actual national problems in objective, non-stupid, non-intentionally-hyped ways.
Oh, and the answer to all three, for some reason, will end up being cutting grandma's social security. I don't know how, but that's always the solution. To everything.