Poor David Petraeus. He's become the joke that keeps on giving. Comedian-satirist Stephen Colbert mockingly attached these monikers to the salaciousness of the Petraeus saga: "General's Hospital" and the "Love Pentagon."
It's a cast with five key stars in the plot. Apparently the four stars on each of Petraeus' uniform epaulets represent each of his co-stars in this military soap opera. Nevertheless, the good general is perched right in the center of this reality show being played out on 24-hour cable, social media, tabloids, Google searches, news-feature magazines and Twitter right in front of our "i's" - the iPhones, iPads, etc.
It's shameful - and shocking - that the 60-year-old Petraeus is out of a job after his predecessor, the forgotten general, Stanley McChrystal, was forced out, essentially for insubordination toward the Obama White House. Call it General Despair.
For Petraeus, the digital media have been Dickensian - It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Petraeus was known to assiduously use email to communicate his message with a persistent media; and damning emails during his illicit affair were at the core of his downfall.
"It's really sad that we've had two senior and obviously brilliant officers blow up their own careers - Petraeus now, and Stanley McChrystal with his Rolling Stone interview," said Charles Maier, professor of history at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. "My sense is that McChrystal's breach would have been considered the more serious one in the 1940s."
Imagine if today's media outlets/devices were en vogue during D-Day - June 6, 1944. Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower may not have seen the first landing craft packed with Allied soldiers hit the Normandy beaches in France. Eisenhower, based in England at the time, was the architect of D-Day, which essentially marked the beginning of the end for Nazi madman Adolf Hitler and his vaunted Wehrmacht (or German "war machine").
Eisenhower was rumored to have had an affair with his personal driver, Kay Summersby, an auburn-haired beauty from Ireland who previously had been a model before she enlisted in the British Mechanized Transport Corps. Whereas "The Petraeus Party" consists of the general; his biographer Paula Broadwell; the other woman, Jill Kelley; the other general, John Allen; and the FBI agent Frederick Humphries II, Eisenhower's quintet was vastly different. The five-member "Eisenhower Ensemble" consisted of Gen. Ike; Summersby; his orderly, Sgt. Mickey McKeogh; a black valet, Sgt. John Moaney; and a Scottish terrier named Telek.
Now, how about a time-capsule moment? Take today's information technology, transfer it "Back to the Future" in full "Star Trek"-transporter fashion to 1944. What would happen? Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University in Montreal and the author of "Mr. and Mrs. President: From the Trumans to the Clintons," says Eisenhower could have faced a major headache, similar to Petraeus' predicament today, even though Ike's relationship was ambiguous at best but was burdened by perception.
Said Troy: "Today's prudish, invasive, 'Gotcha' press would have made the Ike-Kay relationship the defining fact about Ike rather than minor, insignificant acts, like his brilliant D-Day plan or his general stewardship of this extraordinarily powerful army assembled to defeat the Nazis."
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