Sex, Lies & Trousergate: Time for America to Grow Up?

Last week former general David H. Petraeus was a war hero reinvented as the Director of the CIA; this week he has resigned his position and is more famous for committing adultery than for being a four-star general. His sudden fall raises the perennial question: Why do men in power keep cheating, especially in this, the 21st century, when technology and the 24/7 news cycle practically guarantee that they'll not only be caught but memed without mercy? Is it just a dangerous combination of high-test narcissism and boys-will-be-boyness? In 2008, in the wake of l’affaires Edwards and Spitzer, MORE asked six smart writers for their sharpest takes on the psychology of the high-level cheater. Why does he do it? Will he ever learn? And are we wrong to care?

by Daphne Merkin
lipstick on collar photo
Photograph: iStock

Judith Thurman's open letter to husbands considering a run for political office.

Susan Cheever: Is Sex Addiction to Blame?

Patricia J. Williams on sex, scandal and the danger of these distractions.

Katha Pollitt on why hypocrisiy is the bigger scandal.

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Originally published in the November 2008 issue

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