PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Why can’t they just behave?

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Americans woke up this week to shocking news that much-admired CIA chief David Petraeus had resigned over an extramarital affair.
Take 2: Top military leader Gen. John Allen’s nomination to head the European command is on hold over questions relating to the Petraeus story.
We shake our heads and wonder how both these well-thought-of individuals could have gotten themselves into such personal and professional jams.
Is it power that fuels the disregard for accountability or that falsely shields the transgressor from detection?
Or is it just pure and simple chemistry, which re-routes the brain from rationality?
This isn’t a political scandal, yet. High regard for both these men reaches, for once, across the aisles.
Certainly, this isn’t the first time we’ve learned that our officials in high places have feet of clay.
FDR, Eisenhower, JFK. Many others we’ll never know about.
Each revelation is disappointing, to say the least. The stupidity of such behavior is almost beyond understanding.
Since I am not a man, I suppose I lack the proper empathy and certainly the biochemistry.
Of course, it takes two to tango.
And certainly, people in lesser levels of authority also misbehave badly.
Are these people just not “wired” for fidelity? Do they seek greater thrills from the risky proximity to disclosure?
That’s more than my puny brain can or wants to work through.
And so, we may ask ourselves, why do such highly respected people do such stupid things?
Clearly, they believed no one would ever know.
Wasn’t it enough to just look in the mirror, or is it just too easy for us to deceive ourselves?
We also may ask how anyone transmits highly inappropriate emails with complete disregard for their discovery?
Surely, everyone knows by now these electronic messages don’t disappear when you hit the “delete” button.
As these investigations continue, the public likely will learn more about the indiscretions. They have become the daily news fodder and won’t disappear from earshot anytime soon.
Yet, is there something to learn from this tawdry state of affairs?
I harken back to the extended embarrassment of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, when many of us drove our teenagers to school as PBS brought us up to date on that awful saga.
Perhaps it’s a moment to talk with our older children about fidelity to others and to value our own good names.
To talk about the importance of integrity and trust in relationships, and how wrong it is to hurt others who have given their trust.
Perhaps some of us take for granted the soundness of our relationships and what constitutes unacceptable behavior.
Conversations like that may be happening around kitchen tables now.
As for those most immediately affected by these scandals, I surely hope for what’s best for them and our country.
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com. Follow her on Twitter @realnewsqueen.