It was Friday afternoon and I was sitting in a movie theater waiting for Skyfall to start. That’s when I heard about the Petraeus affair. The annoying theater ads were running and for just a little bit my world kind of stopped. Here was a guy who I first heard about a little over six years ago when the Moveon.org Petraeus scandal occurred. For those of you not old enough to remember the first time that General David Petraeus testified about the Iraq War I’ll give you a brief refresher. It was after the 2006 midterm election and the Republicans had just gotten clobbered. Progressives and Liberals in America thought they had a chance to bring that wretched war to an end. The guy that saved that war for George W. Bush was a guy named General Petraeus. He did so by delivering remarkable testimony and expert analysis. For the first time in six years it felt like we weren’t being led by a bunch of amateurs who learned how to govern on 9/11. That day we learned what leadership looked like and it looked like David Petraeus. Earlier that day Moveon.org had taken out a full page ad asking the question: “General Petraeus or General Betray-us?” Wow, did that blow up in their face.
So for someone who lived through the humanization of a war that he never supported it was a pretty amazing experience. Questioning your own beliefs, your own guiding principles, your own dogmas as a person is one of the most humbling experiences you can have. We remember when it happens and we remember who made us think about it. For me and for many who believe as I believe, that the War in Iraq wasn’t just a failure of conscience, but a failure of the collective wisdom of mankind, David Petraeus sat on our TV screens and explained to us why we were wrong. Watching someone like that melt before your eyes is something that makes you think about all of the things that I’ve just described. The difference now is that I not only think about the experience; I think about the man, I think about his family and I think about how fragile life is. Then I remember one of the guiding principles of my life:
“It’s not having been in the dark house, but having left it that counts.”
– Teddy Roosevelt
Put simply: we are not judged by how hard we fall, but how we recover and sometimes if we can even recover at all. I’m firm in my belief that if you haven’t made a mistake yet, you’re either setting yourself up or you’ve chosen to go blind when it comes to the way you look at your life. Everyone has made mistakes in their life and many of us will continue to make them. The best we can hope for, the best we can fight for is to do so hurting as few people as possible and bearing in mind the things that matter in life. Having said all of that I must say that I find the media’s analysis of this man and this story to be on many levels almost comedic. Perhaps you are one of those people out there that still believes in honor and for those of you who haven’t graduated high school yet, I congratulate you on your ability to look at the world as two things: good and bad. The rest of us however live in a world that is governed by our ability to carry on. There is no good or bad in life, we live according to our needs. What’s good and what’s bad is based entirely on perspective. But there’s one thing you can’t (or rather shouldn’t) be able to judge and that is what’s funny. I don’t care what anybody says, these all look like treasure maps to me…
I also love the fact that there’s the “Petraeus Pentagon of Love” infographic alongside the pencil-drawn tablecloth and the on-screen art of a not-so-talented Fox News analyst. What would possess someone to treat this story like a play that happened on 3rd and long is beyond me. But I’d like everyone to take a moment and realize just how much creativity had to go into each one of these things and also notice which are the least imaginative. Clearly, aside from the pencil sketch, the next most basic and in-artful analysis is done by Fox News. It should not be ignored that people who do not believe in Climate Change, do not believe in teaching anything beyond Creationism in our schools also had the creativity of someone who just finished watching Monday Night Football.
Other parts of this story that I enjoy are arrows going in different directions (because I leave it to symbols to tell me that a guy is trying to get with the only lookable women in these collages) and the faceless FBI torso. Apparently the only thing you have to do to avoid having your picture as part of one of these visuals for 24 hour news networks is to be either a member of law enforcement that contacted a Congressman or the subject of an ongoing investigation. Who knew it was so simple? And somebody needs to explain to me why every one of these scandals involves some guy trying to send some girl a picture of his ripped abs. I’m glad that you don’t have low self-esteem, but I can pretty much guarantee that she doesn’t care anywhere near as much as you do about your toned body.
The last part of this story I want to address is this “Benghazi Conspiracy” idea. It’s been eating away at my conservative friends for weeks now and I don’t know how many times we are going to have to point out the obvious to you folks: there is no there there. There was no conspiracy. Not everything that everyone does is a personal political attack upon your political principles. I know it’s hard to believe that the world isn’t centered around you, but take a step back for a minute and think about things from a meta perspective: why would the President or anyone in his administration do anything to hinder an investigation into the deaths of their co-workers? Think of just how big of a douche bag you’d have to be to do something like that. I know conservatives are completely nuts with this idea that the President is out to try and “take” stuff from them, but that’s not how liberals look at the world. Step out of the bubble for a moment and remember that we take our views from Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine just like you do, the only difference being that our views aren’t totally hypocritical. When Thomas Aquinas said that: “taxes should be collected from the common good for the common good” he wasn’t talking about everyone but himself, he was talking about himself also. That’s the difference between conservatism and liberalism right now: conservatism is believing that everyone but you is the problem while liberalism is believing that everyone including you is the problem.