Saturday Reads: Petraeus and Broadwell, Romney’s “Concession,” and the Race-Based CampaignPosted: November 10, 2012
I guess the biggest story of the day is the resignation of General David Petraeus as head of the CIA, although the aftermath of the election is still my main focus–yes, I’m still wallowing in it! Anyway, on Petraeus, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that:
CIA Director David H. Petraeus, the retired four-star general widely commended for his oversight of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence of an extramarital affair.
The affair was discovered during an unrelated Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether one of Petraeus’s computers was compromised by someone else using his e-mail account, according to three U.S. officials who asked not to be named because the matter involves classified information.
Like Petraeus, the woman in question, Paula Broadwell (am I the only one who can’t help smirking a little at that name?), is married–to Scott Broadwell,
For the record, Petraeus has been married to a woman named Holly Petraeus for over three decades, while Broadwell is married and has two kids with Scott Broadwell. He’s a specialist in interventional radiology in Charlotte, N.C. The couple has two sons, Lucien and Landon. They met in Germany while training to become ski patrollers and are “adventure junkies,” according to Paula.
Newsweek/The Daily Beast published a piece by Broadwell just last week called General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living. There isn’t anything on the list specifically about cheating on your spouse, but there is this:
5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.
In today’s The Daily Beast, Isabel Wilkinson called the book “glowing” and “fawning.”
Broadwell is the author, with Vernon Loeb, of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a glowing 400-page biography of Petraeus, for which she was granted almost total access. After it was published in January, some said it read more like a love letter to the general than a biography. In a review for Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings called the book “a work of fan fiction so fawning that not even Max Boot—a Petraeus buddy and Pentagon sock puppet—could bring himself to rave about it.”
Ugh. She also provides more background on Broadwell.
Broadwell, 40, is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership–as well as a PhD. candidate in the department of war studies at King’s College in London. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist. They live in the upper middle class Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons, Landon and Lucien. She grew up in North Dakota, and attended West Point, the general’s alma mater, where she graduated with honors. She has worked for the U.S. Special Operations Command and an FBI joint terrorism task force. Beyond that, her list of accomplishments is long: she earned an MA from The University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies; an MPA from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and served as the deputy director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts.
Physically, Broadwell is tall and stunning, with long dark hair and green eyes. According to her biography, she has been a “sponsored ½ Ironman triathlete” as well as a “female model/ demonstrator” for KRISS, a manufacturer of .45-caliber machine guns. (On LinkedIn, she lists her current employer as Equipe Broadwell, LLC, seemingly a part of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, a veteran’s organization in Charlotte.
Broadwell first crossed paths with Petraeus in 2006, when he gave a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was pursuing her master’s degree. According to the preface of All In, she introduced herself after that lecture and told him about her academic research. He gave her his business card and offered to help. “I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives,” she writes in the book. And so began an alleged relationship, which, if sources are to be believed, eventually led to the general’s resignation from the CIA on Friday.
Petraeus is 60. I guess that’s enough about the tawdry affair. We’ll probably find out a lot more than we ever wanted to know in the days in weeks to come. This will all be tied in with the right wing nutters’ endless Beghazi conspiracy theories too. Sigh…
According to Politico, acting CIA chief Michael J. Morrell will testify in place of Petraeus next week.
The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came less than a week before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
A spokesman for the committee said acting CIA Director Mike Morell would testify Thursday in place of Petraeus, who resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.
Now I’d like to return to something that has been bothering me post election: Mitt Romney’s pathetic concession speech. I thought it was utterly classless. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since Romney’s entire campaign was awful–filled with lies, race-baiting, and embarrassing gaffes from beginning to end.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my reaction to the brief speech that Romney hadn’t even bothered to write until after the election was declared for President Obama. Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece about it at Salon speaks for me: Romney’s concession speech was not gracious. No, it was not at all gracious, but many writers said it was anyway. Williams:
It is a venerable tradition in American politics that no matter how ugly a bloodbath the campaign that preceded it may have been, on election night, the defeated candidate steps up and gives an elegant concession speech, thanking his supporters and pledging his loyalty to the victor. In return, the winning side politely vows to reach across the aisle, and lauds the loser’s “graciousness,” thereby assuring that no one can accuse the victorious side of anything resembling gloating.
Sure enough, after Mitt Romney’s five-minute parting words Tuesday evening – which actually came in the early hours of Wednesday morning – the governor was perfunctorily summed up in the punditsphere by the adjective of choice: The “Today” show declared that Romney’s speech was a “short but gracious” end to his six-year quest for the White House. Our own Salon staff called it a “gracious” speech. Even BuzzFeed called it “gracious,” pointing out its most “conciliatory and statesmanlike moments.” New York magazine, meanwhile, said that Romney “concedes with class.” Now, it may seem nitpicky to mention this while the door is still hitting the guy’s ass on his way out, but are you kidding me?
Here’s a bit of Williams’ reaction to the “speech” itself:
It’s true that when Romney took to the stage at last in Boston, right before 1 a.m., he didn’t kick over the podium, rip off his shirt and throw a chair into the audience. He didn’t spend the long minutes between victory being called for Obama and his acquiescence of the race hopping on a plane to Chicago so he could bum-rush the president’s victory speech. And he may not have spent that time holed up in a bunker with his advisers, making women cry.
Instead, he came out before the nation, put on his game face, and expressed his gratitude. He said, “We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” Good for him. He also sighed that his wife, Ann, “would have been a wonderful first lady,” and, in a statement that would not have been out of place coming from a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, thanked his “sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and … their wives and children for taking up their slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.” Seriously.
She then contrasts Romney’s concession to Obama with McCain’s graceful one in 2008. Please go read the whole thing.
The Washington Post’s David Beard talked to historian and author Scott Farris about Romney’s concession. Farris, the author of Almost President: The Men Who Lost The Race But Changed The Nation, said it barely “cleared the bar.”
Farris said Romney’s speech didn’t reflect the urgency of healing a divided nation: “While he congratulated Obama, he never really validated the result by saying ‘the people have spoken’ … Praying for the president is nice, but it is not the same as validating the election.”
Farris added that Romney did not expressly address unity. “He talked about putting aside partisanship, but he also said he had hoped to lead the nation in a different direction and remained concerned about the nation’s future. He also did not define what his campaign was about, except for a vague reference to “principles,” though he didn’t fully identify what those were. The reflections on the importance of teachers, pastors and parents hinted at something, but it was all implied, not explicitly stated.
“It was a speech that sounded as if he did not emerge from the election with much respect, let alone affection, for the president. He sounded as if he really expected to win and was immensely disappointed in the result — even more so than usual.”
And that’s exactly the case. Romney expected to win, despite the hundreds of polls that showed he was losing to a man that he sees as just one of “the help.”
I want to end with the most horrifying part of this election for me: the return of blatant, overt, up-front, out-in-the-open racism to the political sphere. Has it been there all along, and I just didn’t notice it? In 2008 I was shocked by the open misogyny that was unleashed against Hillary Clinton. This year, we’ve had both the Republican war on women and blatant race-baiting from the Republican nominee and his surrogates–most of all the detestable and repulsive John Sununu.
At DailyKos, David Atkins (AKA thereisnospoon) wrote a wonderful post about the racism, titled “Did they really think only old white men would hear the dogwhistles?”
Atkins suggests that racism is exactly the reason why Mitt Romney and his advisers didn’t believe that Barack Obama would win reelection, why they didn’t believe Democratic voters would be enthusiastic about going to the polls or that African Americans and young people would vote in the numbers they did in 2008. And I would add–the reason Romney didn’t bother to write a decent concession speech or show any respect for the man who soundly beat him. Atkins writes:
The question is, why did they believe this?
Despite the craziness of Sarah Palin, it’s important to remember that John McCain and most of the GOP establishment didn’t go hard after the Nixonland race card in 2008. Sure, there was some of that. But they knew that if they pushed it too hard, it would backfire on them.
In the intervening four years, the Republican message against Obama has been nothing but one long racist tirade.
Muslim. Kenyan. Foreign. Hussein. Doesn’t share our values. Not Christian. Wants to cut the work requirement in welfare. Obamaphones. “Holder’s People.” Black Panthers. “Moochelle Chewbacca Obama.” “The White Hut.” “Entitlement society.” “Makers versus takers.” Recovery, not dependency. Parasites….
Did they think African-Americans wouldn’t notice? Did they think only white people could hear those dogwhistles and outright racist primal screams?
Did they think Latinos wouldn’t hear the last four years of vitriol thrown at them and their families by Fox News and the fever swamps on the AM dial? That they could celebrate Jan Brewer’s and Joe Arpaio’s sick sadism and that Latinos wouldn’t take heed?
He includes visual aids too. I hope you’ll click the link to see and read the whole thing.
I want to end on a happier note, so I’ll return to Mary Elizabeth Williams’ blog at Salon: Let the post-Sandy election gloating continue!
Yes, you’re right, we’re gloating. You caught us. Maybe you’ve noticed it from our unstoppably gleeful tweets about what Christopher Hayes calls “overdosing on Schadenfreude” or the way we might have let it slip that, as Lindy West admits, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum.” Perhaps you find it unseemly – you, the defeated but dignified Republican, or you, the Democrat who thinks this kind of whoop-whooping is beneath our kind. Bur bear with us. You see, some of us recently had a hurricane blow through our lives.
This election was nail-biting enough when it was just about Obama vs. Romney. But then it became more than just a big fat “Oh, phew!” regarding having a president who won’t actively try to sabotage our reproductive rights or marriage equality or the middle class. It became about not getting a guy who was pretty gung-ho on cutting federal funding for disaster relief. It became about simply not being able to bear another blow.
Again, Williams speaks for me. I intend to keep gloating as long as I possibly can.
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading on this fine Saturday morning?