Forward Thinking

Tale of Two Davids

By Daniel Goodman

jan massys/wikimedia commons
David and David: King David acted far more reprehensibly than Gen. David Petraeus. Yet the ancient Jews, to their credit, forgave their storied leader, while we cannot.

Gen. David Petraeus is not the first famous David in history to be ensnared in the web of infidelity.

King David was an adulterer and a fellow military hero as well. However, the similarities end there. While the biblical David was
 able to retain his kingship because he repented and was forgiven, the 
contemporary David knew he would likely not be forgiven and,
 consequently, felt he had to resign.


Our apparent inability to forgive, combined with modern media’s 
insatiable lust for sex scandal stories, is a troubling dilemma that will continue to plague our polity if it is not ameliorated. In a culture where privacy is nearly
 nonexistent, an inability to forgive creates a toxic brew that results
 in qualified leaders resigning from office for private indiscretions; 
it may also discourage such individuals from entering public service
 altogether.

In Petraeus, we lost one of our most accomplished, capable, and
 qualified military leaders because of a sexual indiscretion. While the general’s private actions were immoral, they had no bearing on his
 public duties. If his adultery had no bearing on his public duties, and if he sincerely repents, we should have no qualms about re-embracing him as our CIA director.

King David’s adultery was much more morally egregious than David Petraeus’s infidelity.

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