Newt Gingrich, Tom Ricks Jump to Petraeus Defense

'He's a good guy,' 'Any man in his shoes would do it' among excuses.

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As the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell scandal continues to unfold, with new information leaked almost daily, a number of people ranging from politicians to national security reporters are coming out in defense of the former CIA director and four-star general.

Newt Gingrich, who once had an affair with his current wife, Callista, spoke of Petraeus in glowing terms on the morning talk shows this week. Defense reporter Tom Ricks, meanwhile, pointed out it's not illegal for civilians to have affairs.

[PHOTOS: Gen. David Petraeus, Behind The Scenes]

Below, five defenses of Petraeus and his indiscretions:

1. France thinks affairs by government officials are okay.

"For the country to lose the aid of the capable David H. Petraeus because of an affair is ridiculous. ... In France, highly placed government officials have mistresses scattered all over Paris. Americans are prudish and have lost the services of many valuable officials as a result. Utter nonsense!" —Letter to the Editor from Jean Hill, Concord, Mass., in the New York Times

2. What man would be able to resist?

"You have a highly decorated soldier who, as the head of the CIA, was one of the most powerful men in the world — and there is no greater aphrodisiac than power. And then you have a beautiful, intelligent woman who is given the job of writing his biography — which is essentially a platform for her to ask him, 'Tell me again, why are you so awesome?' What man among us wouldn't love that situation?" —Radio talk show host Marc Sterne, in the Daily Caller

3. Public competence matters more than private missteps.

"We now seem to care more about the sex lives of our leaders than the real lives of our soldiers. We had years of failed generalship in Iraq, for example, yet left those commanders in place. Petraeus' departure again demonstrates we are strict about intimate behavior, but extraordinarily lax about professional incompetence." —Defense reporter Tom Ricks, in Foreign Policy

4. Petraeus sacrificed his life for the country.

"I think it's important on Veterans Day to remember this is somebody who served for 37 years, he and his family have sacrificed their entire adult lifetime for the country. He was the author of the surge which saved the war in Iraq, he gave us the best possible chance to win in Afghanistan. He's a remarkable human being. This is a tragic end to a great career. ... I hope he does have some future in some form of public service." —Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, on the Today Show

5. He's a good person.

"He made everybody feel great, and he's a very human kind of individual, and he's just a really nice man. ... He's very gracious, he's bright, he's stimulating, he's challenging. ... He's just a wonderful, all-American guy, and real credit to our nation." —John Osterweil, long-time friend of Petraeus, in USA Today

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at