Before getting to the downfall of General David Petraeus, I have to introduce
Paddy to you. Paddy came into my life when I was writing a regular light-hearted
column for The Toronto Star in the early 1970s, and disappeared from it when
I stopped writing the column about forty years ago. Now he’s back.
Paddy brought the coffees to our table and said, “Well, Lyman, old boy, we have a lot to get caught up on. I’ve been reading your columns online for the past couple of years and I’ve got a lot of questions to ask as well as some bones to pick with you.”
“Ask and pick away,” I replied.
“Well.... ” (Paddy starts as many sentences with the word “well” as there were rock and roll songs that began with it back in the 50s and 60s) “Well,” he said, “before we get to the old stuff, let’s talk about General David Petraeus’ resignation as the director of the CIA. I saw your smart aleck letter to the editor about it in The National Post.”
He reached into his shirt pocket, took out the letter and, quite unnecessarily, read it to me. “The article dealing with CIA director David Petraeus’ resignation, after his affair with author Paula Broadwell, states that “Ms.Broadwell .... spent several months embedded with Gen. Petraeus’ forces in Afghanistan. To think that I completely misunderstood the meaning of that word.”
Paddy went on, “You probably have more to say on this than that.”
“Of course I do,” I admitted. “For example, I strongly disagree with the column George Jonas wrote in the Post in which he implied that the General shouldn’t have to resign over an extramarital affair. The point is not that he had an affair. The point is that, despite all his other strong character traits, he exercised terrible judgement. He also showed that he couldn't resist a titillating temptation. These are two characteristics that should disqualify anyone from being the director of the CIA.”
“Well,” Paddy said, “Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said on Meet The Press that the General may have strayed because he was probably under a lot of stress having gone from being in command of an army to having to wash the dishes when he got home from work at the CIA.”
“That’s idiotic,” I replied.
“Well,” Paddy pushed on, “After all, she is the Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.”
“Then they should remove the word ‘intelligence’,” I retorted.
“Well,” Paddy retaliated, “what about the general’s success in ending the war in Iraq. Doesn’t that count for a lot?”
I said, “I don`t see that military achievements alone are a sufficient qualification for the job of director of the CIA; and even if they were, he didn’t do so well in Afghanistan.”
“Like hell,” Paddy exclaimed, “he got things to the point where the UN forces are now spending their time teaching the Afghans to fight.”
“That’s an interesting comment, Paddy. It never occurred to me that anybody had to teach the Afghans to fight. That’s all they’ve been doing for centuries.”
“Well,” said Paddy, shifting gears, “I’m surprised that the FBI got involved at all in this whole fiasco. It seemed to start with emails between the Broadwell dame and some woman in Florida named Kelly. As far as I’m concerned, that was just a cat fight between two middle-aged, married, military groupies who should know better.”
Feeling that I probably couldn’t improve on that comment, I remained silent.
Not being able to tolerate silence, Paddy said, “Well, your smart aleck letter wasn’t the best one I read about Petraeus.”
“What was?” I inquired.
“Well,” Paddy smirked, “the one that stated that a general’s actions shouldn’t be dictated by his privates.”
Knowing that I definitely couldn’t improve on that one, I got up to leave, asking, “See you next week, Paddy?”
“Damn right,” he said, “I want to ask you about those ‘thoughts for the day’ you’ve been posting on your website, facebook, and twitter.”
I told him I’d be happy to oblige.