David Petraeus and the Twinkie Republic

A hundred dead on the ground in Gaza in events that will shake the foundations of diplomacy worldwide, but the big reports this week are on the rise and fall of the Twinkie. Does anyone under 30 even know what a Twinkie is? Possibly a monument to Twinkie — a giant Twinkie by Claes Oldenberg perhaps, or something thrown together on the National Mall by Frank Gehry — will appear; Twinkie as a remembrance to the rise and decline of the American Century.

This preoccupation with the Twinkie might constitute what psychologists call transference. But this is why Sarah Palin and us rubes in the once and future Tea Party scornfully call the institutionalized pundits of bipartisan politics the "nerd prom" — Palin' s phrase. Because there is a shared ego, joy and entertainment among those in attendance in dumbing it down and keeping it light, even in the most forboding times.

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And surely the Petraeus affair wins journalism's Twinkie Award this year — we might hold these events annually. The story was, of course, the torrid liaison that America's first general who, with Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and very few others, brought chaos out of conflict in the misbegotten Iraq invasion and restored perspective to our presence in the world. But that was the Twinkie story. The real story is two-fold; combat between the CIA and FBI is now as strange and frightful as J.J. Abrams’s vision of twisted plot and deception in “Alias.” And the big issue here, still overlooked, is that they went into Petraeus’s email and disgraced him on personal issues to discredit him; that is, to "take him down" as a competitive public figure, as they would in a tawdry TV drama.

Petraeus classically embodies what we in earlier times might have called the warrior/scholar; the classic man of honor and dependability. But there is no honor in the Twinkie Republic. It is scorned there. There can be none. They are antithetical.

But the very big issue here is, as Judge Andrew Napolitano has written, If they can do it to him, they can do it to you. "Who's next?” asked the Judge.