Petraeus: "I Screwed Up Royally"

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 29 2012 9:38 AM

Gen. Petraeus' Apology Tour Begins With a Handwritten Admission: "I Screwed Up Royally"

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David Petraeus takes the oath of office as the next director of the Central Intelligence Angency from Vice President Joe Biden as Holly Petraeus looks on in September 2011

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Since stepping down as director of the CIA, Gen. David Petraeus has not spoken publicly about the affair that brought an early end to his tenure as a national security golden boy. But that doesn't mean the four-star general has kept entirely quiet.

In the immediate aftermath, Petraeus relied on retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan to do some unofficial damage control. Petraeus' former military spokesman made a handful of media appearances to share details from his conversations with his former boss, including that Petraeus was "devastated" both because of the "pain this has caused his family" and because he "had a huge job and he felt he was doing great work and that is all gone now."

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Today, the New York Post brings us a similar account, this time from another one of Petraeus' old Army buddies, retired Brig. Gen. James Shelton, who turned over a hand-written note that the ex-CIA director sent him last week:

"I screwed up royally," Petraeus told his longtime Army pal ... in the hand-written missive. "I paid the price (appropriately) and I sought to do the right thing at the end of the day," he wrote in the Nov. 20 message. ...
In his letter ... Petraeus says that neither he nor his wife is ready to end their 37-year marriage. "Team Petraeus will survive though [I] have obviously created enormous difficulty for us," he wrote. "Holly is, however, once again demonstrating how incredibly fortunate I was to marry her."

It's too early to say how long it will take for Petraeus to rehab his image, but in reality it is an issue of when, not if. Americans have proved time and time again that they're ready and willing to forgive and even forget when it comes to the infidelities of men in power.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. Follow him on Twitter.