The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 17, 2012

The Petraeus affair plays like a reality TV show, and we’re all hooked



So he must have, we imagine, simply fallen in love. And for all our carefully nurtured cynicism, our tales of the sexting and hook-up generation, we remain a nation in love with love, particularly forbidden love.


Our books, our films, our television series steer us again and again to the thundering, fatal majesty of a love that makes all other concerns — jobs, friends, the respect of peers — superfluous.


It’s no accident that two of the winter’s biggest films are the final “Twilight” and “Anna Karenina,” in which, spoiler alert, people actually die for love.


In real life, similar choices often lead to climaxes far less romantic, denouements much bleaker, like the grimy napkin-littered space of a trendy dance club in the unforgiving light of midmorning. Petraeus reminds us, once again, that the choices we make, even when seeking the magic of the moment, have consequences.


And in a country with laws and mores still beholden to our Puritan founders, the only thing we like better than a good, juicy, twisty love story is a good, juicy, twisty love story with a moral at the end.

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