Quelle horreur, man the battlements, remove your hats, and salute the casket: Captain America has fallen.
To the shock and dismay of every America lover out there, General David Petraeus, mastermind of the so-called “surge” tactic in Iraq and Afghanistan that let mainstream news watchers believe that America could triumph in the Middle East over those evil brown folk and still be the bestest country ever, and lately Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he oversaw the implementation of our shiny killer robots in countries where we’re not at war, has resigned from his post due to having an extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell, the author of his recent biography.
Now, I have no interest in the General’s infidelity. As long as it’s consensual, the dude can sleep with whomever he wants, and I won’t give a solitary damn. I’ll leave the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the supposed muddying of his sterling reputation to the prudes and flag-wavers who pop out of their holes every time a public official is revealed to be a horndog. Makes no never mind to me.
However, what does concern me are Petraeus’ worshipers in DC and elsewhere, who have rushed to the man’s defense. There is no doubt that despite his valorization by everyone and anyone who supports America spending hundreds of billions it does not have on useless foreign wars because it makes their members stand at attention, Petraeus holds a huge amount of responsibility for turning the CIA into a paramilitary force, not an intelligence agency, as well as continuing the US’ fights in Afghanistan and Iraq in secret, such that they are now the longest conflicts in American history. Despite this, cable news heads have in particular bent over backwards to defend the man; how he’s a West Point grad, military genius (because apparently simply pouring more soldiers into a battle and using extremely advanced technology to kill more or less indiscriminately is now apparently considered brainy strategy; Henry V would weep), and All-American Hero.
See, the fact of the matter just is that he is nothing of the sort. In fact, all he has proven in this scandal is how incredibly inept and blithely ignorant he is, fine qualities to be held by the top spy in the country. In a rare moment of clarity from Politico, Roger Simon points out the glaringly obvious in that David Petraeus, head of the most powerful intelligence agency on Planet Earth and formerly lord high muckety-muck of the most powerful army on the same world, thinks that Gmail accounts are secure enough so that he could send explicit e-mails to his secret lover. And not have them be traced. This kind of idiocy makes the chuckle brothers over at SkepticInk look like bloody Rhodes Scholars.
Nevertheless, he is continuously defended from all parts of the political establishment, especially by President Obama. However, as is so common in our times, any dissent from the hero message is being mercilessly mocked.
Now, I’m in no trouble because no one, outside of a very few lovely people, know who the hell I am. But, for others, it’s different. Take, for example, Michael Hastings, who is an actual journalist that still does those things like investigative reporting that most people at newsdesks these days seem to think are outdated. He has already been involved in the takedown of a major American general, this one being Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus’ predecessor in the Army. Since reporting actual news is tantamount to treason these days, Hastings is not a well-loved man at the desks of most mainstream news organizations. For instance, Dylan Byers, a Politico hack, who wrote a piece two days ago lampooning Hastings for, well, being a good journalist:
The third and final thing to know about Hastings is that he considers himself something of a gonzo journalist. His gut instinct is to cause trouble. At a time when the mainstream media seem more cautious than ever, that can be extremely refreshing. If you believe that journalists are supposed to call bull when they see it, then Hastings is your man. But to those who believe journalists shouldn’t be advocates — either out of ethical concerns or practical ones (it’s not always effective) — Hastings is muddying sacred waters.
Can you smell the self-righteousness? And also the deep aromas of self loathing? This shit is absolutely amazing.
In closing, the American tradition of hero worship for those in uniform is alive and well, even if the person being supplicated to has revealed himself to be a massive idiot and unfit for command of a commissary. And I admit, I have had a lot of snarky fun in writing this. Perhaps too much; I am, after all, losing my mind to finals week. But I can’t help but giggle with glee and schadenfreude at the fact that the head spy in the American government was brought down by the same kind of draconian invasions of privacy which have become de rigeur in the past decade. The romance, the justice to it, is just beautiful in every single way.