FRONT ROYAL, VA — Here’s our laugh of the day: The Petraeus Scandal
isn’t really scandalous at all.
That’s according to the Washington
Post, published in the city where “I Don’t
Believe The Post” buttons have been a popular gift item for years.
The Post not only likes to play referee in the Beltway’s Blue-Team, Red-Team
game, it also insists on conveniently moving the goalposts, erasing the line
markers, changing the rules, and altering the record books as ideological whim
The Post’s latest thigh-slapper advises us that the Petraeus scandal constitutes
“just a few steamy e-mails.” To emphasize its authority, we are given the Word
from the Mountaintop: “President Obama said he sees ‘no evidence’ that national
security was compromised,” veteran Postie Dana Milbank observes, with wonder
and awe, “and there’s no serious allegation that the affair harmed Petraeus’s
Notice the implication: Obama rules. If he says it isn’t so, no one else can
say it is. “Seriously,” anyway. This is truly the way they think.
Mr. Milbank exonerates Petraeus. Can you reach any other rational conclusion
after reading his cogent, penetrating analysis? Oh, you can? Well, you’d better
let Mr. Milbank take you by the hand: “it’s baffling that the director of national
intelligence suggested, and the president accepted, Petraeus’s resignation,”
Please, Dear Reader, don’t baffle the Post. They take it personally.
Well, admittedly it’s the Post that is truly scandalous, day in and day out.
But the Milbank absolution treads on serious ground. In a former life, your humble
Rubbler was a designated spy-hunter working from Capitol Hill with the FBI to
root out the bad guys, so we find a few salient facts in the fog surrounding
those “steamy emails” that merit brief mention.
The CIA Director is the nation’s number one intelligence official. For good or
ill, secrecy is central to the success of his efforts, and the prospect that
a potential blackmailer might know that the CIA Director has something to hide
is a veritable time-bomb waiting to go off. Petraeus did the right thing by resigning,
and he shouldn’t have waited to be asked to do so.
Catholics are familiar with the potential impact of such perfidy. Some years
back, former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland was blackmailed for years
by his former boyfriend. His Excellency paid his lover off with the Sunday collection
money, insisted on staying on as archbishop, and wound up virtually destroying
the archdiocese. He’s still at it. Like the Washington
Post, the retired archbishop
denied any scandal, wrote a book celebrating his homosexuality, and today lives
on in retirement at the expense of the people in the pews whose money he stole.
Had he resigned his office thirty years ago, when the first threat of blackmail
came, the faithful and the Church of Milwaukee would have been spared.
Petraeus knows better. He has wisely chosen to concentrate on healing his family’s
wounds. Someone else can be CIA Director. No one else can be husband and father
to the Petraeus family.
Embrace of that simple wisdom is unusual in Washington. The number of politicians
of both parties who dump their first (and occasionally their second) wives as
they climb fame’s flimsy ladder is legion. So all of us should pray for Mr. Petraeus
and for the rest. Augustine didn’t call the lust for power the libido
dominandi without reason: need we underscore libido?
The Dan Quayle Test
As far as the Posties are concerned, here is a universally applicable
test to detect political hypocrisy. Just ask this: What would the
Post say if Dan Quayle had done it? If Dan Quayle had appointed unconstitutional
czars, launched illegal wars, given hundreds of weapons to drug dealers
who killed Americans with them, or — horrors! — had a mistress, what
would the Washington Post say about it?
Chemistry has its litmus test. Now politics has the Dan Quayle test.
By the way, some thirty years ago the newly-minted Senator Quayle was invited
by some lobbyists to go a (legal) golf outing in Florida with some other members.
Quayle was indisputably the best golfer on Capitol Hill, and undoubtedly enjoyed
the chance to play some southern links. Unfortunately, word later got out that
a certain lady had been introduced into the group’s sleeping quarters. Paul Weyrich
steamed at his weekly conservative luncheon that “this could ruin several careers.”
Was Dan Quayle’s career one of them? His wife Marilyn, a very smart lady, settled
the argument quickly, once and for all. “Are you kidding?” she said publicly.
“Dan likes golf too much.”
Hmmm. Maybe Mr. Petraeus should take up golf.
One might think that Mr. Milbank is channeling the Marquis de Sade, who opposed
capital punishment because there was no such thing as a crime. But, as Richard
Nixon would say, that would be wrong. For the Posties there is one unforgivable
capital offense: disagreeing with the Post. Agree with the Post, whatever the
crime, and not a single eyebrow is raised. Disagree, and you’re toast.
Hypocrisy? Of course. And yet, in the eyes of the popular
culture, the Post is a pillar of the New Morality. Why, firing Petraeus
was such an anachronism! That view is hardly surprising: in
Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s memorable phrase, the Post has long
been a leader in the effort to define deviancy down. And that celebration
of deviancy has managed to wear the public conscience away to the point
of brain death.
There’s a lot more to this collapse than sex. The deterioration
of language itself has simply made it impossible for us to communicate
intelligibly. When people hold no self-evident truths in common,
the notion of community gives way not to “diversity” but to chaos,
and pursuing the common good becomes a raw power play.
This loss of rational discourse has caught many in the Catholic
Church unawares, and it shows. Take the notion of "rights."
||“The deterioration of language itself has simply made it impossible
for us to communicate intelligibly.”
so-called Human Rights Campaign is a homosexual activist organization.
Admittedly, they haven't read Confucius, so they have no regard for
what the Chinese sage called the restoration of the proper meaning
of words. Instead, they embrace Humpty Dumpty — when they use a word,
it means whatever they want it to mean. They acknowledge no standard
by which we can challenge the assertion of such bogus “rights” as wrong.
The question is crucial: how can the Church fight this
campaign — “Gay marriage” and the rest — that seeks to seize every
sexual issue and make it a matter of “rights”? After all, like me,
our bishops grew up in the civil rights era, and as young priests and
seminarians they supported the civil rights movement. Back then, such
“rights” were connected with metaphysics, with reality, with truth;
but that was fifty years ago.
This time around, however, our bishops are confronted
by another "civil
rights" movement, and this time they have not prepared their flock.
For 50 years they have not taught us why homosexual acts are immoral.
In fact, they haven’t even told us that they are immoral. That was
apparently one of the issues that they have found “too hot to handle,”
according to Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
|“At the Post, the drumbeat of the sexual revolution
harmonizes with the heartbeat of the Libertine Left.”
||Well, it wasn’t too hot to handle for the Post.
They routinely savage the Church for its teaching on homosexuality,
whenever a Catholic has the temerity to defend it. At the Post,
the drumbeat of the sexual revolution harmonizes with the heartbeat
of the Libertine Left. Anyone who defies the consequences must
be excoriated. Moral anarchy must rule.
The Petraeus Affair should be instructive. Actions do have consequences. But
countless politicians have committed far worse sins than Petraeus, and stayed
on the job. So have a few bishops. That’s why a lot of folks might be tempted
to agree, however quietly, with Mr. Milbank: so what’s the big deal with adultery?
Everybody does it. And yet, adultery has consequences. So does fifty years of
silence from our bishops on sexual morality. We have a steep mountain to climb.
The laity must pray for our bishops and urge them — and
support them — to teach us the truth, all of it. My former Bishop once
told me that a Bishop never gets good advice or a bad meal. Well, my
friends, let's prayerfully and respectfully give our bishops some good
From Under the Rubble archives
From Under the Rubble is copyright © 2012
by Christopher Manion.
All rights reserved.
Christopher Manion, Ph.D., served as a staff director on the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments
of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University,
the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College, and is
the director of the Campaign for Humanae Vitae, a project of the Bellarmine
Forum. He is a Knight of Malta.
Email Dr. Manion
See a complete biographical sketch.
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