Former Army general David Petraeus resigned as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency yesterday after admitting to carrying out an extramarital affair. It's now come out that Petraeus' mistress was embedded with him in more ways than one: Slate confirmed the mistress was his biographer, Paula Broadwell, co-author of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. And it seems Broadwell's husband may have written the NY Times' Ethicist seeking advice about the affair. Because in times of marital strife, who wouldn't turn to the world's most sincere Billy Joel aficionado?
The question stems from the July 13th edition of Chuck Klosterman's The Ethicist advice column.
My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be “true to my heart” and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD
Obviously, there's no way of knowing for sure whether Broadwell's husband Scott wrote the question, but the timeline of the affair with the column seems to matchup with what we know so far. And certainly, Petraeus' work was "seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership." If it is true, then Klosterman may have had more influence over the American intelligence community than he could have ever known when he gave this advice:
Don’t expose the affair in any high-profile way. It would be different if this man’s project was promoting some (contextually hypocritical) family-values platform, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. The only motive for exposing the relationship would be to humiliate him and your wife, and that’s never a good reason for doing anything.
Even at the time, Klosterman smelled that something funny was going on: "The fact that you’re willing to accept your wife’s infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it’s so over-the-top honorable that I’m not sure I believe your motives are real... I halfway suspect you’re writing this letter because you want specific people to read this column and deduce who is involved and what’s really going on behind closed doors (without actually addressing the conflict in person). That’s not ethical, either."
While we probably won't know whether that was her husband, we certainly know what Broadwell thought about Petraeus. She made a number of media appearances earlier this year while promoting the release of her book. Below, check out Broadwell on the Daily Show: