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J.J. McCullough

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Media Bites: Living Vicariously Through Petraeus

Posted: 11/15/2012 4:15 am

In the aftermath of last week's whole presidential election thing, there was a brief moment in which it almost seemed like the Canadian press had finally run out of pretexts for ramming its big judgy nose into American affairs. But then General Petraeus resigned, and guess what -- the schnoz is back!

For those just tuning in now (how I envy you), Petraeus used to be head of the CIA but jumped ship last Friday when it was revealed he was having an extramarital affair (as opposed to an intramarital affair, which would have been fine). Anyway, the story has only gotten more annoyingly convoluted, in the days since, and now there's a third women and at least two other men and the whole thing is rapidly evolving from creepy love triangle to hideous love pentagon. My space here is limited, so if you're still in the dark may I kindly direct you to Business Insider's charmingly succient video summary of the whole mess? I promise I'll wait.

Back? Excellent. So what's the response of the Canadians, you ask?

Mostly they don't get what all the fuss is about.

So the General screwed around on his wife of 37 years, scoffs the Globe's Margaret Wente, big whoop. It was "a perfectly legal extramarital affair that involved no national security issues or anything else of consequence." So why not let him stay? Geez, "if affairs were enough to disqualify people from high office, then the high offices of the world would be half-empty."

Yeah, agrees George Jonas in the Post, while cheating might be "the single biggest obstacle preventing Gen. Petraeus from passing through the pearly gates," it's hardly worth quitting over. Fact is, informs Heather Mallick at the Star, some old guys eventually "say goodbye to sex" and "some don't." So get over it, America.

Such a "peculiar strain in the American ethos," muses fellow Star-child  Rosie DiManno, "this obsession with personal morality as measured by sexual activity." Total global outliers, concurs the Post's Kelly McParland. Compared to what goes on in Europe, he thinks l'affair Petraeus "is like a high-school tiff over who gets to wear the football captain's pin to the Prom." I mean, France's former president had a whole frggin' second family and no one cared!

Even good ol' Matt Gurney at the Post -- one of the few pundits actually convinced that the General's "personal weakness" was a resignation-justifying "national concern" thanks to his problematic taste in document-hoarding mistresses -- has to concede that the "only real victims here seem to be Petraeus's wife" and the rest of his kinky five-way.

Now, I know what you're thinking -- could Petraeus-gate ever happen in Canada?

Who knows!

Here in B.C., I remember there was much gossip a while ago that a certain, uh, "well-known" provincial official was something of a routine adulterer, but such gossip would usually be couched in praise about how wonderful it was that our wise press lords never saw fit to "make it an issue." You may recall a similar tone of propriety in the outrage that followed a certain TV station's lurid allegations regarding a certain mustachioed opposition leader.

Coverage of all things Petraeus has dominated the Canadian papers over the last couple of days, and to be fair, I suppose it is big news with possibly global repercussions. But it's also hard to escape the feeling that our media is simply having much vicarious joy gleefully rifling through the sort of dirty American laundry they'd never be permitted to explore at home.

***

Speaking of home, did you know there's been stuff happening in this country too? Sure, maybe it's not as much fun as a sexy general but it is very, uh, domestic.

On Tuesday Finance Minister Flaherty gave one of those budget update speech thingies in which it was revealed that -- surprise surprise -- he's probably not going to balance the budget by 2015 as promised. In fact, the thing probably won't be balanced 'til 2017! At least!

Considering the present tire-spinning state of the American and European economies, the recent slump in resource prices, and the fact that Flaherty engages in this half-heartedly apologetic balanced budget can-kicking ritual every year, Tuesday's big reveal probably shocked around four Canadians in total.

Luckily they all have newspaper columns.

Welp, I guess that's it, says Michael Den Tandt in a piece syndicated o'er the land, "Canada no longer has a conservative party." Unless all you want from a right-wing government is for them to "shrug, pay lip service to balanced budgets" and blindly "hope for the best," Dan thinks it's time to hang up the ideological towel and just admit that the biggest thing separating the Conservatives from the other parties these days "is the colour blue."

Sad but true, pines David Akin in the Sun. This is a party whose "budgetary track record would make any fiscal conservative turn pale." A "stretch of deficits" with "no real end in sight," moans Terrence Corcoran at the Post.

But surely in good ol' right-wing Alberta fiscal conservatism is still going str-- NOPE says Jesse Kline. Under Premier Redford it's nothing but unsustainable spending -- on borrowed cash, too! And when even "Canada's conservative heartland knows it can get away with spending money it doesn't have, what hope is there for the rest of the country?"

Yeesh, depressing. No wonder conservatives are blue.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Super Bowl XLIII Football

  • CIA-Director David Petraeus

  • Gen. Petraeus Testifies At Senate Confirmation Hearing

    WASHINGTON - JUNE 29: U.S. Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee as his wife Holly Petraeus listens on Capitol Hill June 29, 2010 in Washington, DC. Petraeus has been appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama to replace U.S. Gen. Stanley McCrystal as commander of the United States Forces Afghanistan. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

  • Defense Secretary Panetta Holds Briefing At Pentagon

    ARLINGTON, VA - OCTOBER 18: Holly Petraeus (R), assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, speaks as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Chuck Milam looks on during a news briefing October 18, 2012 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon held a briefing on efforts to enhance the financial health of the force. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • Petraeus Retirement

  • Petraeus Intelligence

  • Fort Cambell General Returns

  • CIA Director David Petraeus Rings The Opening Bell At The New York Stock Exchange

    NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to ring the Opening Bell as the CIA Commemorates it's 65th Anniversary on September 18, 2012 in New York City. Stocks fell in early trading as investors continued to be concerned about Europe and the global economy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

  • Biden Petraeus CIA

  • CIA-Direktor David Petraeus zurueckgetreten

  • CIA Director David Petraeus, testifies b

    CIA Director David Petraeus, testifies before the US Senate Intelligence Committee during a full committee hearing on 'World Wide Threats.' on January 31, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Witnesses include: Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, FBI Director Robert Mueller(L); Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess; National Counter terrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen; Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Philip Goldberg; and Homeland Security Undersecretary for Intelligence and Analysis Caryn Wagner. AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Military Family Spending

  • Defense Secretary Panetta Holds Briefing At Pentagon

    ARLINGTON, VA - OCTOBER 18: Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Chuck Milam (R) speaks as Holly Petraeus, assistant director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, looks on during a news briefing October 18, 2012 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The Pentagon held a briefing on efforts to enhance the financial health of the force. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

  • Biden Petraeus CIA

  • House Holds Hearing On Protecting Service Members In Consumer Financial Marketplace

    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 03: Holly Petraeus, assistant director for service member affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, participates in a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on November 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from Petraeus on protecting veterans and active service members and their families in the consumer financial marketplace. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • House Holds Hearing On Protecting Service Members In Consumer Financial Marketplace

    WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 03: (L-R) Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) introduces himself to Holly Petraeus, assistant director for service member affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, during a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, on November 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from Petraeus on protecting veterans and active service members and their families in the consumer financial marketplace. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

  • Petraeus Retirement

  • David Petraeus Sworn In As CIA Director

    WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 06: Vice President Joseph Biden (R) swears in David Petraeus (C) to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, while his wife Holly Petraeus holds a Bible, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on September 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. General Petraeus retired from the U.S. Army last week, and has now become the 20th director of the CIA. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

 

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