By Robert Schlesinger |
It was for the best that CIA Director David Petraeus resigned following the revelation that he had an affair with his biographer. Running the Central Intelligence Agency and repairing the damage from an affair with one's family are both all-consuming endeavors. You cannot do both well.
The CIA is an agency under intense scrutiny in the wake of the tragic attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi and resulting Congressional investigations. Getting to the bottom of Benghazi while searching for Ambassador Christopher Stevens's killers and preventing future terrorist attacks is a 24/7 job. Were he not distracted, Petraeus would be well suited to this task.
The world is obsessed with the Petraeus resignation, following each twist and turn with the breathless attention of a Bravo reality series fan. But to the three families at the center, it must be painful dealing with FBI searches and media stakeouts. Petraeus, with his boy scout image and media savvy, has no practice in dealing with the public and private fall out from a scandal. He could not hope to avoid distraction on the job.
Some may argue that the nation needs someone of Petraeus's skill at the helm of the CIA right now, and the agency is prepared to look the other way on this affair. But Petraeus is not the only one qualified to lead the agency in the post-bin Laden era. He is, however, the only one who can face his wife and children and explain why he drifted so far from being the upstanding person they knew to being a man engaged in an affair under investigation by the FBI.
You cannot both lead such an important agency and recover from a wrenching public betrayal of your family. In retirement, a cabinet agency will not come visit you for the holidays. Take care of your family first. The nation will understand.
About Mieke Eoyang Director of Third Way’s National Security Program
Lawrence J. Korb Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
Heather Hurlburt Executive Director of the National Security Network