Sunday, November 11, 2012

Strange Bedfellows

Like just about any politics junkie (currently going through post-election DTs) I find David Gergen to be alluring and curiously seductive. The tight but creamy voice, that fascinating comb-over, those sexy non-partisan analyses...well, don't get me started.

Still, I have to admit I was shocked to find that Gergen was in fact the "woman" CIA chief David Petraeus forfeited his career for. At least that's what comes across in the opening paragraph of this Salon piece:

David Gergen — a friend of Gen. David Petraeus as well as the woman he reportedly had an extra-marital affair with — said on “Face The Nation” this morning that great men have affairs — and that those relationships can be very important to them in difficult times.

First of all, I have had a well-documented romance with m-dashes myself--I think they are great for setting off a parenthetical thought with vigor and panache--but three in one sentence? That's a punctuational high-wire act I wouldn't attempt without a safety net.

But the real problem here is that description of Gergen as being a friend of Petraeus "as well as the woman he reportedly had an extra-marital affair with." Friends with benefits, indeed!

If we slip another of before "the woman" we get a simple unexceptional story of a man with friends. By eliding that crucial of, however, we invite mental images of David Gergen in drag "servicing" a (hitherto) respected retired serviceman. And that's a whole different story.