Week in Review: A Difficult Transition Back to Reality

Katelynn Storm ’13

In the week since the election, the media has largely focused on issues that appeared during the campaign season. In the midst of the sad closing of Romney’s campaign, the difficulties that Obama faces in his second-term as President, the profiles of recently elected candidates, and even the possibility of Puerto Rico possibly becoming the 51st state, two particularly interesting issues have arisen: the idea of state secession and the scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

In the aftermath of the election, the idea of southern secession has emerged as a particularly difficult matter. Though it brings up troubling associations with pre-Civil War years, secession has been discussed in detail many times by a very small minority in the past few years. Although the recent talk is largely seen as only a symbolic gesture of disapproval from states that voted Republican in the presidential election and feel let down by the government, the issue has gained much publicity due to the accumulation of 65,000 signatures on Texas’ petition in less than a week. Still, CNN says that there is still very little likelihood of any official response to this, as the White House can refuse to address certain matters it feels are properly within its jurisdiction. Though many laugh at those who propose secession—and Governor Rick Perry of Texas has publicly denounced the petition—many other states also have secession petitions on their websites, including South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, California, Ohio, New York, Delaware, Nevada and Arizona. No state other than Texas, however, has come close to the 25,000 signatures traditionally needed for a government response. Though the likelihood of secession is low, this does show that dissatisfaction with the government is high. It should therefore be interesting to see how the new administration handles these complaints in the upcoming weeks and whether officials will ignore the issue altogether, as many are expecting.

The fall of General David Petraeus, Director of the CIA, has similarly been on everyone’s minds this week. Petraeus resigned after only a year of directorship due to pressures following the discovery of an affair the married General had with Paula Broadwell,  author of his recent biography, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. An article from Politico states that President Obama accepted Petraeus’ resignation last Thursday in a statement that also while noted that Petraeus remains “one of the outstanding General officers of his generation.” Many other Washington representatives echoed this sentiment, stating that while what the General did was wrong, he would be missed.

More recently, General John R. Allen, who is the principle military commander in Afghanistan, similarly became embroiled in the Petraeus situation, allegedly sending “potentially inappropriate” emails to a woman who claimed that Petraeus’ mistress harassed her. The General, whom Politico notes as having been nominated as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe by the President merely a month ago, is finding himself temporarily reprimanded as the truth behind his alleged emails is investigated. Though, unlike Petraeus, Allen disputes any wrongdoing, a senior defense official wrote that there was enough evidence against him to provoke a thorough investigation.

When I first heard of these falls from power I truthfully felt that the media was making much ado about nothing: as long as these men could do their incredibly difficult jobs, it honestly did not seem that romantic entanglements were that important. But after reading all of the literature available on this topic I now understand: though the scandal has not been related to the military, the CIA, or what they were hired to do, the fall of these two extremely powerful men reflects extremely poorly on the United States. We cannot have our most powerful figures seen as immoral. This is why Clinton was impeached and why Newt Gingrich failed to gain the Republican nomination. No one ever said that our politicians have to be perfect, but they do have to at least be seen as leaders. If they fail to make the right decisions romantically, that does not bode well at all for their decisions in other sectors of their lives. Though there has been much pride and excitement emanating from the buzz of the election, this week the unhappiness of a large portion of the nation and a crack in the global image of the United States have brought Americans back down to a more grim and realistic outlook of the future.