The ingredients are so painfully predictable—the man is older, powerful, well-known. The wife is also older, but for her age does not lend a cache of charm, but a burden of being (perhaps) past her prime. She has been the home base while the general fought wars overseas. True, she has her own career, and has made contributions working on alleviating the needs of military families. Oh, how ironic.
The other woman is younger, in need of a mentor, and—I wouldn’t be surprised—adept at charming the older man with flattery. As the story is told, she made the initial contact with the general, and eventually got herself embedded (the irony piles up) with the military in Afghanistan while she worked to expand her doctoral dissertation into a full length book. With the recent revelations of “the affair” sales of the book have soared.
As for the other “other” woman, nothing is known—except that she apparently received threatening anonymous emails. Because of their nature, it seems she contacted the FBI. And thus began the investigation that unraveled the situation. Of course, her presence does raise a niggling question—why was she perceived as a threat to the erstwhile mistress? Don’t even want to go there.Do you hear echoes of similar recent stories? The New York Times chronicled the sad litany of some of the name of those involved in these affairs—Alexander Hamilton, Warren Harding, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Baines Johnson. And that doesn’t even bring us to the current transgressors—Gary Hart, William Clinton, David Vitter, John Ensign, Mark Souder, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards. I even edited this list to shorten it!
So, what’s the lesson? That power attracts? That forbidden fruit is just too tempting? That great men fall? That we are all flawed? That in a digital age, there is no such thing as secrecy?
The truth is—I don’t know. I do know that this particular revelation made me especially sad—sad for all involved.