The recent scandal involving our top military and security officials that has rocked Washington and the country is not new and certainly won’t be the last scandal of its kind. Once again we ask ourselves why men in important leadership positions take such risks and allow such damage to their family and career. But I have a different take on it, one that holds the women accountable. Not just for their betrayal to another woman, but for their betrayal to the country and the men involved.
When Monica Lewinsky was first invited by President Bill Clinton to his private study in November of 1995 during the government shutdown, she knew full well what she was about to initiate. That first kiss in the President’s office was Ms. Lewinsky’s first step toward betrayal to the people of the United States. Yes, President Clinton was guilty as well, but I am writing about the woman’s role in all of this.
Any woman who takes a job in a government agency, especially at the highest levels or with access to gentlemen in high level positions, must understand her allegiance to the United States of America and Its people. By knowingly and willingly going into an extra marital affair without regard for what it will do to damage the partner’s family, job, co-workers, department and the entire country, that woman is engaging in treachery.
The current story of betrayal involving David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell cuts even deeper because of the sensitive nature of top secret security issues that she may have access to. While I will be the first to say it is none of our business what two people do in their private life and that it is not for me to judge, that all changes when it involves our national security and respect as a country. Affairs happen, and regardless of the underlying reasons for them, the consequences and disruption for families can be traumatic. But when those involved are being trusted by the citizens of the United States to restrain from behavior that is inappropriate as a basic sign of high ethical character, the personal becomes national.
Though some may disagree with me, I do believe that successful men are able to function in their day to day capacity at a high level of focus and dedication separate from their personal physical needs. It’s not that they “can’t help themselves” and therefore should be forgiven out right, but setting aside the moral and ethical duty to his family, if that man is still carrying out his job to the highest level of expectation, then he is doing what we pay him to do. It seems that the “other woman” in most cases becomes obsessed, needy and reckless in her expectations of the man. This behavior seems to stem either from a lack of self worth or a desperate desire to gain something material through the relationship.
Consider the other part of the Petraeus and Broadwell story. Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, received harassing emails that were traced to Paula Broadwell’s email by the FBI. Just the fact that Broadwell felt it was okay to send harassing emails to anyone shows a serious character flaw, but Kelley’s lack of restraint in how she handled this turned a smoldering brush fire into an out of control inferno of accusations, and now government investigations. As was so perfectly stated by Emily Yoffe in her recent article titled A Cheater’s Checklist, we should “Avoid Going Nuclear.”
It is most disconcerting to me that the two individuals who have suffered the most pain through all of this were the least considered. Holly Petraeus has been betrayed by her husband David on a very personal level, but also by a woman who was documenting his heroic and dedicated service. That biography will now forever be tainted by the woman behind the scenes. Scott Kelley has already gone through his share of difficult challenges and tragedies, but now friendships and networks once very important to his professional and personal life are cut off and scandalized beyond repair due to Jill Kelley’s self serving actions.
The story between Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley sounds like something we would watch on a reality television show about wealthy socialites competing for the most attention and popularity. It is the kind of behavior that is destructive to those around them and to themselves. Where is their social responsibility as women? Where is their patriotic responsibility as Americans?
One thing I do know is that as we place more women in public office at high levels, we must continue to educate our children in how to have respect for themselves and each other so that when their turn comes to lead our country it will be with a greater self control and sense of duty. The honor and trust in high office of the United States does come at a price. That price is a higher expectation of moral and ethical standard. When a simple thing like lust can bring our great leaders down, what message are we sending around the world let alone to our children? Step it up women of America, if we want equality we need to hold in reverence the opportunity and responsibility we’ve been given, even if it is still in a lesser role.