It’s easy enough to see why General Petraeus threw it all away for a slap and tickle with Paula Broadwell, the bosomy push-up specialist and breathless biographer. She may not be in the general category of the fatal Cleopatra, for whose love General Marcus Antonius lost the world, but she is certainly a cut above the other Paula, as well as the chubby intern with cherry cheeks, for whom our beloved former President Bubba Flapdoodle nearly got the galosh from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Why Broadwell (mother of two and spouse of an overworked radiologist) would throw all of her well-toned caution to the wind for a spot of heavy breathing with a much older man is a more interesting question. From one angle, it’s a familiar story: An ambitious young woman seduces an illustrious geezer to gain access to the heady world of privilege and power.
Henry Kissinger is famous for saying that power is the strongest aphrodisiac, which seems to me to overestimate the sexual element from the female side. I don’t think the on-the-make woman is so much overcome with the pheromones of lofty power as she is in leveraging her own youthful appeal to get what she wants.
Nevertheless. Another question occurs to the impartial observer: Would Broadwell (a shout-out to the deity that bestowed such a helpful name on our heroine) have shimmied under the desk with the general if he were just plain old Dave Petraeus, the manager of organic produce at Whole Foods, or perhaps the friendly service guy with crooked teeth at Jiffy Lube?
After all, as a discerning acquaintance has pointed out, Petraeus is hardly Richard Gere, to pick at random a 60-ish gent, who, if not a military officer, at least played one in the movies once upon a time. It’s been said that women are attracted to men in uniform, but it must depend on the uniform, since a number of surveyed females inform me that Petraeus’s uniform ignites nothing in their nether regions.
Maybe it’s not the uniform itself, but all those multicolored medals and patches and ribbons plastered all up and down his green jacket that are an anti-aphrodisiac. He had more advertising on his person than a Nascar driver or spandexed bicyclist. Here’s just a partial list of his “fruit salad”: Screaming Eagle patch, French Parachutist Badge, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation, Overseas Service bars, Combat Action badge (shaped, curiously, like a comfy bedroom slipper), Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, United Nations Mission in Haiti insignia, Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia, Polish Iraq Star, Romanian Emblem of Honor, German Parachutist Badge, British Army Parachutist Badge (Junior Grade) and the Gold Award of the Iraqi Order of the Date Palm.
Petraeus’ familiar stoop is not a congenital condition, nor is he bent from the burdens of battle: It’s simply a matter of being top-heavy with all those medals and badges and stars and bars.
Maybe if Petraeus had attired himself in one of those nifty officer uniforms made famous by the cavalry regiments of the French Imperial Guard, with their kepis and braided cords, fringed epaulettes and ceremonial sashes, his appeal to Broadwell would make sense and the men-in-uniform theory would have been confirmed.
Since it wasn’t his uniform, and it wasn’t his physical personage that accounts for the conjunction of the general and his bosomy biographer, we are back where we started, with the power postulate.
But by all accounts, Broadwell had gained access to the general’s world, and indeed inveigled her way into the role of biographer, without allowing the general to make forays across her borders and into her private territories.
The affair started, so we are told, after the general left the service. Reconnoitering and engagement commenced once the general became director of the CIA. Perhaps the world of secrets and betrayal begat its own secret betrayals.
Or maybe it was all that running they did together. It is well-known that vigorous physical motion stirs the blood and activates the requisite hormones, and the beneficiaries of such blood-stirring and hormone activation are those who happen to be in the vicinity, especially those who are similarly engaged, as were the general and Broadwell.
In related news, Bill Clinton (President Bubba Flapdoodle) called Mit(t) Romney to tell him how much he enjoyed Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican convention. Reportedly, Mrs. Romney declined the former president’s request to go running with him.
D.P. Sorensen writes a satire column for City Weekly.