The story is told of the French diplomat in the bad days of the Cold War who was approached by a Soviet agent and shown pictures of himself having sex with a woman most definitely not his wife. This is called the “honey trap,” and it is used by intelligence services to extort information by threat of blackmail. At any rate, our Frenchman nonchalantly put on his glasses and peered at the pictures. He pointed to one and then another. “I'll take this one and that one and, yes, that one, too.” The shocked KGB agent turned on his heels and left. A Frenchman cannot be blackmailed on account of sex.
Oddly enough, David Petraeus is now in the position of that Frenchman. His dalliance with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, is known to everyone on the planet, including yak herders in places I cannot spell. His personal computer's hard drive has been ransacked by the FBI and possibly by his own CIA. Salacious tidbits have been leaked to us, the reading public, and we can only imagine what has been whispered in the corridors of the FBI. Another person's sexual passion is always funny.
I have a glancing familiarity with Petraeus. I found him frank and personable — not at all what I expected. I have long maintained that a man of 60 who has no body fat is not to be trusted — but I found Petraeus to be the exception, a rebuff to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. (“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”) Alas for Petraeus, he did not think enough. Such men are fools.
This thing with sex, this American obsession and its concurrent hypocrisy, has gone far enough. We went through a disgraceful attempt at a presidential coup with Bill Clinton, who was accused of lying about sex — imagine! — but survived to become a widely admired elder statesmen. We have seen members of Congress destroyed by personal peccadilloes that had nothing to do with their public responsibilities. Robert Livingston, R-La., was about to succeed Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House when an extramarital affair was discovered. He not only gave up the speakership but left the House and has spent his purgatory as a Washington lobbyist. (Livingston was succeeded by David Vitter, now a senator, who admitted being a client of the so-called D.C. Madam.)