Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen
By now, we’re into the seventh layer of complexity in the real-life spy thriller “Homeland meets The West Wing meets Melrose Place” – otherwise known as the Petraeus sex scandal. For those of you who haven’t tuned into the news recently, here’s a recap of what we know so far that led to Petraeus’ resignation as Director of the CIA.
- Republican ideologue working at the FBI sends Jill Kelley, a military Party Planner (not kidding) with whom he has an unknown relationship, shirtless pictures of himself.
- Later, said Party Planner gets harassing anonymous emails of the “I saw what you did under the table at that fancy dinner with David Petraeus” variety.
- Party Planner freaks out and tells shirtless Republican Special Agent.
- An investigation is launched by the FBI on the basis of a couple such vague emails which leads the FBI to discover that the emails originated from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and presumably jealous paramour.
- As a matter of course during the investigation, the FBI reads all the Party Planner’s email. This consequence may not have been anticipated by the Party Planner when she filed the complaint, because the emails now connect her to the guy who took over for Petraeus in Afghanistan, General John Allen.
- Allen is now under investigation because of emails to the Party Planner described as “flirtatious” and “affectionate.” Under military law, adultery can be a crime.
- Somehow, perhaps through the shirtless ideologue, Eric Cantor finds out about the Petraeus affair, yet the Senate Intelligence committee and the White House are clueless.
And that’s only what we know so far. Whew.
And beyond what appears to be a disturbing overreach by the FBI into personal, non-criminal matters of private citizens, and a gripping scandal worthy of a Hollywood spy thriller (and you know it’s coming), there’s another public figure whose life is in tatters because of sexual impropriety this week.
I’m sorry, Americans. Petraeus, and the loss of his talents and abilities in his chosen field are bad enough. But this, is truly a tragedy. The latest American icon to suffer the consequences of sexual indiscretion is…
Tickle me shocked.
Now, you can actually Google “Elmo Sex Scandal” and find headlines like: Elmo Denies Having Gay Sex with Minor. These are troubled times indeed.
New York-based Sesame Workshop said in a statement that its own inquiry concluded that the claim of underage sexual conduct was unsubstantiated, and that puppeteer Kevin Clash has denied any wrongdoing and called the allegation “false and defamatory.”
But the company said Clash, 52, was disciplined after an internal investigation showed he “exercised poor judgment and violated company policy regarding Internet usage.”
OK, so it’s not an FBI probe, but the internal Sesame Street investigation has found nothing wrong except poor judgment and internet misuse. Mr. Clash (aka Elmo) has been given a leave of absence to protect his reputation, after a brief stint in the no-no seat when the internet incident occurred.
No word yet about next steps for these two embarrassed Americans, but here’s a thought from Richard Cohen at the NY Daily News:
The list of Washington sex scandals is long and, really, quite distinguished. One would have to include John F. Kennedy and, just to be fair, Thomas Jefferson. I want to mention Warren Harding, a randy devil he, and even Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose wartime affair with his driver, Capt. Kay Summersby, has long been alleged. Lyndon Johnson’s affairs have been documented by the indefatigable Robert Caro — and were all but conceded by the weary Lady Bird Johnson. These matters can hurt.
But now that it has all been done, is there a better man to fill Petraeus’ seat than Petraeus himself? He is blackmail-proof and more than qualified for the job.
He not only was a four-star general, a West Point grad (top 5% of his class) and a Princeton scholar, but, in the quite recent past, he held the director’s job himself. The United States would not only be getting the best man for the job, but striking a blow against the sexual McCarthyism that has destroyed so many careers and, in wretched silence, has aborted many a political career before it was even announced.
Let’s not let our own proclivity for sexual McCarthyism, and love of a good sordid tale blind us to the bigger issues of the potential misuse of government investigations with nothing more than political motivations and questionable evidence, and most of all our own rights to privacy and civil liberties. We all deserve them, as a country and as individuals when there is no overlap into the jobs that affect our security, and how our government is run. Overreach by zealous government investigators is not a new phenomenon, and Americans should be more alarmed at this than at the indiscretions of fragile and imperfect humans.
Good luck to the General, the biographer, the Party Planner, their families, and the muppet.
UPDATE: Good news for Elmo and us all! The accuser has apparently recanted his accusations READ HERE.