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April 24, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Officials need some new rules

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If we look at all the high-level officials who have had affairs, I think we need some new rules. Affairs open these people up to blackmail. If you want a high-level government job and decide you don’t like your spouse anymore, you either need to find whatever strength you need to ask for and get a divorce, suffer in a bad relationship or resign. If you cannot do one of those, and you have an affair and try to hide it, you become a security risk. David Petraeus said he resigned because he did not uphold his military code. No, he should have resigned because he was too weak to get a divorce, had an affair and, most importantly, placed himself in a position where he could be blackmailed.

If people want to have the freedom to have affairs, they need to stay in the private sector. If people want big, important positions in the government where many people’s lives could be at risk, they must show the restraint, moral courage and good judgment required when temptation comes along.

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  1. Future,

    President Clinton put himself in a position to be blackmailed, just like Patraeus did, which was incredibly foolish and dangerous. Many people say 'it's just sex', but for high ranking government officials, it is much more than that.

    President Clinton lied about what happened under oath and lost his law license and almost his Presidency to try to hide what happened. What else might he have been willing to do if his paramour had been a spy who blackmailed him? The same question has to be asked in the Patraeus case.

    In my opinion, many people treat this behavior much too lightly.

    Michael

  2. You're right Mr. Casler. Petraeus betrayed us. Soon the talk will be that, in time and after his personal and prefessional penance, he should be allowed to enter public life again. After all, look at all the talent and skills he gave the US and still can. Well, that's for consideration at another time and place. For now, he's out and needs to make amends with his wife and family. I wish him luck.

    CarmineD

  3. This letter is an illustration of idealism gone mad. What makes anyone think that our officials, elected or not, are special superhumans unlike the rest of us? We seem to hold this image that monogamy is some human natural instinct we possess when there is plenty of evidence to suggest the contrary.

    Even some commenters admit to experience being, at best, serial monogamists. We may like to tell ourselves that making and keeping one-time agreements with a time span of "forever" is an easy thing to do. It isn't!

  4. BChap

    "Shouldn't the representatives of our country be held to do what is right?"

    Answer: Yes, what is right for our country!

  5. No "new rules" are needed. Better support of what exists will do finely. One would think, that all the supports available these days, family counseling, Church, therapists, all could have averted the wanderings of the moral compass.

    Certainly, the handlers of high profile individuals have a clue, and should have adequate influence and persuasion.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  6. Geez, Mike, another attack on folks in the public sector....we can't have affairs but private sector people can? I'm gonna call my union rep right now and make sure we address that in the next contract!

  7. Michael,

    Your asking for a tall order. Morality and personal values cannot be legislated. We can set rules, but it have been proven over time, history tells us men and women will respond to needs of being wanted, the need of not being alone, of having sex, the need of being loved.

    The family is the place to start in developing personal armor on values and moral behavior.

    Your point brings up huge a challenge. New rules? How do we proceed. Good comments Michael.

  8. MKC: he doesn't want a divorce. He expects to have it all, marriage and freedom to screw around all he likes--cause he thinks he's special. Too many who succeed lose sight of the fact that they are no better than anyone else. They are NOT entitled to act without considering the consequences. And this is NOT unintended consequences. This is carelessness, failure to think, failure to act in a rational manner.

  9. To Jim and the others who have responded negatively to what I said....

    I don't 'expect' better behavior from people like Petraeus. They are after all, just a human being, like the rest of us. In addition, just like star basketball players or other wealthy and famous people, their stature and position puts them in more places where temptation is near and the 'perch' we place them on makes it more likely that they feel different than the rest of us and 'entitled'.

    I 'expect' them to screw up. It's just that when they do, I think we should take their career away. What they do is important and if they were blackmailed, it could end up hurting many people and possibly the nation.

    That's my point.

    Michael

  10. Michael,

    What new rules would you suggest? With the possible exception of the President (there is a LONG history of dalliance in the White House) any official who engages in morally questionable activity will be forced to resign or be fired, and sometimes face criminal charges as well.

  11. Boftx,

    I would not allow these people to serve in high level positions in government after they show judgment that is poor and could subject them to blackmail. That's all.

    Michael

  12. Michael,

    Unfortunately humans are frail and weak in certain areas. With power comes corruption and/or greed, it's the nature of the beast. It's been that type of history since man learned to walk upright. The Egyptian, Chinese, Mongol, Macedonian, Persian and Roman dynasties all prove my point, they collapsed from within due to the needs of the "human beast".

  13. Vernos,

    Many people don't seem to get my point. I realize people are frail. My point is that when people in high level government positions choose to give in to the temptations, they should be barred from further government service. Affairs put the public interest at risk from blackmail. That should be seen as a serious offense.

    Bottom line for me: If you want a big important position in government that my taxes pay for, I will require in return that you just do not give in to temptation. If you do, you are fired and barred from working in the government going forward.

    It seems very, very fair to me.

    Michael

  14. BChap

    Care to point out exactly where in my comments I became an apologist for Paula Broadwell much less even mentioned her or attempted to justify what was on her computer. The topic under discussion relates to rules for and morals for officials.

    I'm fully capable, on my own, of making statements you are likely to despise. You don't have to invent them for me.

  15. Pat Hayes,

    I don't expect people in the public sector to be perfect, but I also don't expect them to have affairs and put themselves in a place to be blackmailed. If you want the big chair in government with the big responsibility, then you can't willingly put yourself in a place to be compromised. If you do, you're gone...period.

    Michael

  16. wtplv - "I will require in return that you just do not give in to temptation. If you do, you are fired and barred from working in the government going forward."

    I agree and understand that principle, but it would never happen. Think about politicians signing a pledge to Grover Norquist before swearing allegiance to the United States, a distinct conflict of interest in my opinion.

  17. Truth be told, retiring General David Petraeus should have been given a polygraph before assuming the position of CIA Director and told he would be given one again in a year to update his security clearance. He didn't and he wasn't. And now he's out. Done in by a sex scandal.

    CarmineD