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David Petraeus and the New Style of American Politics

And maybe it was just another coincidence that Petraeus had his attack of conscience over his affair and resigned on Thursday, the very same day that Fox News reported that the Foreign Affairs Committee was planning to call him to testify. But the whole episode is reminiscent of the fate of inconvenient officials in totalitarian states who are popular or powerful but fall out of favor with the Man In Charge, who is duly shocked (shocked!) to discover a moral indiscretion on the part of the inconvenient official, necessitating his immediate removal despite his power or popularity. Of course, the U.S. is not a totalitarian state and Obama is not a totalitarian ruler, and undeniably Petraeus violated the military code of conduct; but in an age when members of the president’s party routinely sneer at such codes, and given the timing of the resignation, Obama is either supremely lucky or resorting to tactics that have not been much prevalent in the American public square before. These tactics need scrutiny, and resolve on the part of the Congress to find out what really happened and hold the president fully accountable.

General Petraeus is shaping up to be the fall guy of the Obama administration and the harbinger, along with Mark Basseley Youssef, of something entirely new in American politics: the elimination of the politically inconvenient by means of a pretext that satisfies a bored and indifferent populace and serves as a cover for goals altogether more sinister than is immediately apparent.

Or maybe Barack Obama and his administration are as honest as the day is long, and it is all just… coincidence.