Could the Petraeus affair be Obama's big mistake?
Here is John Watson's first commentary for NewsWorks:
President Kennedy, President Eisenhower, President Bill Clinton were, all of them, guilty of extra-marital affairs, but they remained in their high positions. There were often media reports of Kennedy's wife threatening a divorce because of his female philandering.
President Eisenhower's affair with his female military aide, while an Army General, was kept a secret by his superiors who warned him that divorcing his wife would lead to the end of his military career. I think his Presidency would only have been a dream.
As for President Clinton, his affair with Monica Lewinsky led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. The Senate eventually found him not guilty. Of course, his legacy since then has improved tremendously, as we all know. And the list goes on.
History shows us that many lousy husbands were great leaders. So why is a man like David Petraeus being treated with such moral disdain for having an intimate affair with his biographer? A very common human failure. Are we going to just forget his positive achievements for this nation and the world? He wasn't a general any more when the affair occurred, so he didn't have to abide by the military's somewhat vague, and not always enforced policy prohibiting extra marital affairs. The Baltimore Sun tells us that the CIA, where he was the Director, "has a procedure telling their people what to do in situations like Petraeus': 'Tell the agency's security chief that you were having an affair with an American citizen, and then you are clear.'"
So that tells me that CIA Director Petraeus should not have resigned, and the President should not have accepted his resignation. I think he will live to regret this in these troubled times. A collapsing Arab Spring in parts of the Arab world. Thousands dead in the Syrian uprising. Meanwhile, in the Mideast, the Israelis and Palestinians have just signed another truce, after days of exchanging rocket and air attacks. But how long will this truce last? History shows, not very long.
And with all of this going on, men like Petraeus are needed more than ever. He was (and still is) far above your run of the mill military generals and public servant in fighting the war against terrorism. His name will be in the history books yet to be written.
As commander of the U.S. Army Command Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, he rewrote the Army's counter Insurgency Manual. That helped to win the war in Iraq, and put Al Qaeda and the Taliban on the run in Afghanistan. Yes they are still a problem, but not as much after the Petraeus treatment as they would have been.
I can see the day when President Obama will have to apologize for his mistake in accepting CIA Director David Petraeus' resignation, having to ask him to keep his job as CIA Director.
Being one of a kind, I think it will be almost impossible to find a worthy replacement for him.
John Watson is a former Wilmington radio talk show host. We invite your comments on his thoughts.