Separation of sex and state

President Obama was disappointed to hear that CIA director David Petraeus was to resign, due to his involvement in an extramarital affair, according to a statement made in a press release. The president was not the only one who felt it was unfortunate that Petraeus would resign from the position over a personal issue between himself and his wife.

“From his long, illustrious Army career to his leadership at the helm of CIA, Dave has redefined what it means to serve and sacrifice for one’s country,” said the director of National Intelligence James Clapper, “After hearing how well respected Petraeus was and how confident other people were in the work he was doing for the country, his resignation is a clear loss to our country.”

If we imagine a world of politics where everyone resigned who was guilty of infidelity, our country would not be the same. Thomas Jefferson may never have made the Louisiana Purchase. Roosevelt, Kennedy, Clinton and other iconic presidential figures would never have made their contributions to our nation’s progress. Infidelity is not unusual in politics, but sudden resignations because of them are.

Investigators were concerned of an information leak to the journalist Paula D Broadwell, who had been living with Petraeus in Afghanistan for a year while interviewing him for his biography, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”

Sometime during the development of the biography, a romance novel was quietly writing itself as well.

However, in a trial two days after Petraeus’s resignation, it was determined she possessed no knowledge that any such information was leaked.

Petraeus was one of the the highest authority figures in the U.S. armed forces, so it seems strange for him, or anyone, to forfeit a position of such prestige. It’s normal for a couple to get divorced because of infidelity, but resigning from their jobs is a different story.  

Petraeus may have felt threatened by today’s society, a raging twitter mob, waving laptops and smart phones like pitchforks and torches,  imagining them ready to nail him to a cross on the front page of the Washington Post.  Surprisingly, according to a CNN poll, 48 percent of Americans supported his resignation and 48 percent opposed it.

Two days after his resignation, a hearing was held regarding the situation in Bengazi. Petraeus was present at the hearing, but because he was no longer a member of the CIA, he did not clarify details that would have been expected of him. For example, it was never determined if Al Quaeda was involved in the attacks, or if the September 11 occurrence was coincidental.

The timing and immediate resignation of Petraeus was brought into question, but it seems to have been determined to be unrelated to the Libyan incident. The controversy would have been unnecessary if our society did not hold people professionally accountable for the mistakes made in their personal lives.   

For an ethical trespass to validate the termination of a persons employment, the trespass should be relevant to their job performance. If a teacher is found guilty of drug distribution to minors, or if a bus driver gets a DUI, it clearly questions their employability.
Petraeus issued a statement announcing his resignation, saying, “After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment…such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours. This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation.”

Petraeus resigned for personal reasons, not for social ones. Marriage is a partnership between two people that decide how to handle each others mistakes, without the public’s judgement.

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Separation of sex and state