Honored Role (part 15): Paula Broadwell – Arc of a Driver

This is the 15th installment in the Honored Role Series.

Paula Broadwell does her best thinking and reflecting during her daily 6:00AM run with her Iphone and Pandora blasting. She runs at warp speed literally and intellectually. To say she is driven to perform is a precise statement of how discipline and determination have shaped her life. She is writing a dissertation on military leadership and effective organizational management, and an authorized intellectual biography of General David Petraeus, Commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM).

In June 2009, General Stanley Chrystal, Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), asked Broadwell, a counterterrorism expert, to form a “Red Team” of non-military people to think like enemy combatants and challenge the plans, operations, concepts, organizations and capabilities in the context of the operational environment. Paula explained, “We have to constantly assess and reappraise the operational environment. The enemy is ambiguous and incessantly seeks and uses new means to test, disrupt, and destroy us. Our forces require an organic capacity to adapt quickly to new and ever changing threats.”

Taking Off

Her trajectory into international affairs and national security began in North Dakota. During Paula’s senior year at Century High School in Bismarck, the U.S. waged the First Gulf War. It inspired her to consider the military as a means to an end—a career in international relations. “I figured having a military background could help differentiate me in the world of diplomacy. Understanding the military instrument of power is essential to being a well-informed policy maker,” Paula says.

Self-disciplined by nature, Paula set high expectations for herself. In high school, she excelled in and out of the classroom earning all state basketball honors, orchestra concertmistress, student council president, homecoming queen, and valedictorian. Ron Wingenbach, a teacher at Century High School commented, “Paula’s enviable work habits and relentless approach to curricular and co-curricular activities at CHS provided her the foundation to fulfill life-long dreams.”

Accepted to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, Congressman Byron Dorgan who provided her nomination, suggested Paula consider West Point as he had other qualified students who were interested in flying.

Igniting the Flame

A dual major in systems engineering and political geography, Paula ran cross-country and track, and competed in the high jump. She earned 12 varsity letters. “West Point was an intense and empowering experience. Everything is about performance. It fueled my passion for competition and developed my foundation for understanding the entire instrument of military power and its employment.”

Participating in a summer cadet exchange program in Israel solidified Paula’s desire to work in international, and foreign affairs. Graduating number one in physical fitness in West Point’s Class of 1995, a class whose size numbers 1015 with 87% men, and a passion for international travel and intelligence firmly cemented, Paula selected Military Intelligence Corps. She chose an initial posting to Korea to serve as a platoon leader on the DMZ.

Assignments of increasing responsibility followed in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. They included the command of an International Defense Intelligence Agency Document Exploitation Unit in Bosnia and as a senior intelligence and security officer for the largest Military Police Battalion in the Army based in Mannheim, Germany. All of which served to spark an interest in covert military operations.

Having it All

broadwell-familyAs a senior Army Captain, Broadwell cleared many of the hurdles to enter into the world of black operations. But despite deep professional satisfaction and a unique opportunity, Paula traded her active duty commission for one in the Army reserves. “It was my own inability to balance work and family. I had just become engaged. Entering black ops was a lifelong dream and I questioned the choice for sometime but soon realized I would find my way via other professional outlets, which I truly have! And I am blessed to have an incredible family life, and a sense of work-life balance. The important lesson for me is that you can have it all, just not all at the same time.”

Recalled to active duty shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001, Paula was assigned as a special operations command intelligence planner in Europe. Her role included planning of strikes on counter-terrorist targets in Africa, the Caucuses region and Afghanistan. She seized the opportunity to expand her physical skill by engaging in several self-defense and combative courses, and earning Airborne qualifications from four countries.

“Post 9-11 operations gave me a sense of mission again and “action-oriented “units such as the Special Operations Command and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force reignited my passion. The varied assignments have helped me think more broadly about international and interagency policy issues,” said Paula.

Paula returned to graduate school earning dual masters degrees in International Security and Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver and a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also studied Arabic and Middle Eastern culture at the University of Jordan in Amman.

Becoming the Deputy Director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at Tufts University in 2006, Paula found her professional outlet. The Center’s mission was to increase the understanding and competency of counter-terrorism professionals at various levels. When General David Petraeus assumed command of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, the Jebsen Center provided his command group with robust research and analysis of counter-terrorism alternatives.

Paula’s research to support Gen. Petraeus led her to develop expertise in counter-terror financing, political risk analysis, social network modeling and the strategic leadership of national security organizations. It also inspired her to pursue a doctoral degree in organizational management. But as she got to know Petraeus, her interest in transformational leadership grew.

Paula explains, “With a faltering economy, soaring unemployment, and overseas military commitments consuming more each day than the gross domestic product of many small nations, the United States urgently needs adaptive and transformational leaders. Defense secretary Robert Gates has called General Petraeus the ‘preeminent soldier, scholar and statesman’ of his generation –- roles that he transitions among as the commander of US Central Command.”

Running Faster

Successfully petitioning her doctoral advisors at Kings College War Studies Department at the University of London for a change, Paula’s dissertation is now focused on adaptive leadership and the military leadership trajectory of Gen. David Petraeus. She states that,

“Adaptive leadership is a set of strategies and practices that can help organizations and the people in them break through gridlocks, accomplish change, and develop the adaptability to thrive in complex, competitive, and challenging environments. It differs from many leadership perspectives in its core premise that one can learn good leadership. Yet, in hierarchical institutions like the military, enabling creative decision making and encouraging young leaders to challenge assumption can prove difficult. The sheer quantity of issues and the uncertain nature of our current threat environment requires innovative thinkers who can manage and lead adaptively.”


Throughout her work and studies, and often complementary to them, Paula has taken an active leadership role in public service organizations, serving on the board of or as an advisor to Women in International Security, Service Nation, and other several other veteran-oriented groups. Through all of these endeavors, Paula has found great fulfillment in mentoring young women and veterans seeking to excel professionally. In fact, she attributes much of her own development and professional arc to this “pay it forward” attitude.

It turns out that Gen. David Petraeus is a runner. As Runners World described, “a fast, slightly obsessive, completely in-your-face runner.” But sources report, Paula Broadwell, mother of two young sons, may run faster.

If you would like to share your story or that of other veteran women, please contact me. contact me.

  • dennislowery


    Well done! Another excellent profile of a disciplined and determined veteran. Its truly amazing what a single person can accomplish when they have the drive to do things with their life.

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  • Nancy

    Is she available to work with Congress ASAP!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Good reading ! Did not get that from the daily show .

  • http://twitter.com/JoshK_i_am Josh

    Paula’s dissertation is now focused on adaptive leadership and the military leadership trajectory of Gen. David Petraeus.
    This article is suddenly cast in a different light…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A6EUAJG4DXHOJ5YXU5WV2UTCJ4 Michal Mac

    And now we know that she was the reason for David’s resignation from the CIA. Hope it was worth it Paula…

    • http://joewatchestv.blogspot.com/ @JoeWatchesTV

      Seriously are you blaming her? David Petraeus is a 60 year old man who knows what he’s doing. This idea that young women come in and vamp these guys out of a job is ridiculous.

      Yeah, Petraeus was indefensible against this woman. Sure.

      I’ll tell you one thing, apparently Petraeus does run fast enough.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC7E7H5SMTNMPLZDDX4FB5K4NQ Butkin13

        BS she is just as responsible. She knew exactly what she was doing. She is married too. Neither are defensible so neither gets a walk.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/A6EUAJG4DXHOJ5YXU5WV2UTCJ4 Michal Mac

        Not blaming Paula for ending the Gen.’s career. I’m blaming a highly intelligent, well versed in life, not so young lady for ruining hers.
        Petraeus is to be blamed for his career suicide and personal devastation brought to his family. 
        The commentaries I bring out here are meant solely for reflections of Paula’s actions and consequences on her and her family. 
        As a reminder, she was not some doe eyed intern who was chosen to write a piece up for rolling stones. Paula has been around a few blocks and this was not her first rodeo, she knows how to navigate amongst the best. lets not paint her as the stereotypical victim of a power broker relationship. Only sympathy I have is for her boys who will live with this for the rest of their lives.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IS2JJEA3TE5PIM7A2VY6AY4CWM T. Lee Moroni

    Ok, I can see the attraction with a fellow soldaten (sp?). too bad, The General had a very well managed and successful career and surely provided good service to the cuntry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/honey.badger.946954 Honey Badger

       Too funny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikemoralesfb Mike Mora

    Disgraceful. Her poor family. Nancy above, we already have too many people with low morals in D.C.. I hope she stays away from policy and stays away from married men.

    • haljil

      To Mike Mora: I’m a single woman working in war and conflict zones… As a senior advisor and tactical instructor to the Marine Corps, I can assure you that married men hone in on one – like bees to honey! Despite always asking if a fellow is “married, engaged or in a steady relationship” – I am constantly and blatantly lied to or told that the marriage is on the rocks and soon to end!!! It’s made me so wary of all the clowns out there, that I don’t date and trust no-one any longer… In A’stan now, it’s amazing how often I’m told that I need “protection” or that I am losing my femininity by being as rigid and stand offish as I am – when it comes to avoiding unnecessary entanglements… I tell younger female Marines all the time that “they should avoid getting involved with someone in the Field – he’ll always be that stud and she’ll always be that slut!”

      Both are guilty of poor judgement and betraying their spouses… She should not be singled out – he is just as much to blame!

      • http://www.facebook.com/mikemoralesfb Mike Mora

        Of course he is Haljil. 
        Mort, please parse my comment and tell me where I am at fault. Over to you!

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/IS2JJEA3TE5PIM7A2VY6AY4CWM T. Lee Moroni

        haljil: Agree with your comments. Back in the 70′s, at Quantico the first section on the USMC ( and and also Army) OER form was personal integrity and individual characteristics NOT political connections. Officers that were identified as “career motivated” or “individually ambitious”  rather than troop and mission centered, did not do well. Most contemporary organizations have formal training on sexual harassment, honey pot ambushes and other modern day risks to any civilian or military career. The Corps resisted female Marines for years but eventually had to catch up. Point is – we have always had opportunists, predators  and victims in the service and the civilian world and excuse certain behaviors due to occupational stress. BS!

    • Mortimer Duke

      The queue for self-righteous, preachy, sanctimonious tools forms at the OTHER end of the Internet, please.

  • Mavelous63

    Well well…….
    She has a lot of drive.
    My wife and I have a faithful relationship.
    I guess we’re pretty lazy.

    I feel bad for the families….

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000560409596 Greg Mathieson Sr

      I would hope before everyone jumps to conclusions, they wait until the facts come out.  Paula, husband is a very buff guy that runs with her in many races.  How do people know it’s Paula?  Could be someone else sitting at home laughing this minute and missing the bullet.  there are more important things to worry about then this.  The general did the honorable thing and quit before he got caught and it became something worse. let’s focus on New Jersey and New York where thousands are still without power and heat and it’s only getting colder up there.

      • http://twitter.com/yhwhyeshua Julie Pruitt

        No, no, no … he got caught, then resigned. Right, he’s rolling in honor.

  • WardKendall

    NOW I understand why Petraeus has been boning this chick, after seeing a photo of his wife. She’s going to skin him alive and clean out his military pension, his bank accounts, and take that new Jaguar XK12 he just bought. Well, time to pick up some interesting holiday season at Amazon.com…

    • philwhite42

      I did a search for petraeus and the xk12.  Didn’t find anything.  Were you kidding I guess?

    • http://twitter.com/paul_e_ester Paul E. Ester

      Petraeus has been an unimaginative boot licker his whole life. His wife is the daughter of the US Army commandant and was his early ticket to success. BTW she looks like a commandants daughter.

  • Shannon D

    I guess she was “embedded” with Petraeus and “All In”. 

    Actually, I really hope both of their families will come out of this intact. She has two young boys. /sigh

  • LuckyDude2012

    I hope King’s College in London takes the appropriate action and dismisses her from their doctoral program.  It’s clear that she violated ethics standards here as an academic and as a journalist, since she has now written widely and has been published mainly because she burnished her credentials by gaining unprecedented access to General Petraeus while on active duty and while he was CIA Director.  What were they thinking?  I’ve seen pictures of the General’s wife and while perhaps he lost interest in her physically, possibly emotionally, I would rather have him be honorable and seek a divorce (and wait for her to do the same, if interested) before doing what they both now likely regret.  This wouldn’t be the first time two adults far from home acted stupidly — everyone might recall Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon who resigned in June 2012 after
    emails surfaced revealing she had a secret affair with Brett McGurk, who was President Obama’s nominee to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iraq.  Those two began their romantic relationship in 2008, while Chon was the
    paper’s Iraq correspondent and Brett McGurk was an adviser to the
    National Security Council on Iraq and serving in Iraq – and while McGurk was married to
    another woman.  Unfortunately, adultry is seen as a fireable offense in the military, so General Petraeus (even though he was retired) did the right thing by resigning — Obama does not need more drama at a time he needs to gain public support for fixing the country’s fiscal woes.  Linkages to Benghazi? No, but it’s interesting General Petraeus might not testify since he was at the center of that storm and could likely offer more clarity on the issue than anyone else around.  Sonny and Cher said it best when they sang, “…and the beat goes on…and the beat goes on.”  Good luck Paula, you make me want to rethink my decision not to trade my sexual favors for access, information, and validation.  General Petraeus, Christmas is coming around the corner and I know your wife will be expecting a Kobe-sized rock!!

  • Nancy Disengers

    Interesting to comapore the comments from months ago to the new comments.  I can see his interest in her, but what was she thinking.

    • http://twitter.com/yhwhyeshua Julie Pruitt

      Four-star general, Head of the CIA? C’mon … she’s driven to conquer, obviously, no matter what the price.

  • DoctorFeelgoodMD

    Infidelity destroys many relationships including high profile careers and this isn’t Hollywood. Was it worth it David? Now you are fighting your own demons in a losing battle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/babitab.babitab Babita B Babita B

    she is a great woman, no doubt.  She is the number one in a 250+ class with 87% male.  Added to that she has two major degrees in totally different fields.  Then, mother of two nice kids too.   Then she gets air born combat skills from 4 different countries.  Not possible even for highly motivated men!   Re her relation – let us question something.  How many wives are really faithful? how many husbands are?  With the kind of energies any human would like to have some fun, when put to isolation from family.  Mistakes do happen.  We should not crucify either of them.  The man is out his job for now; thats a big downfall.  So leave them alone.  God bless our society.

    • jeanrenoir

      Another Boomer (Petraeus) destroyed by narcissistic following of the grotesque generational mantra from the 60′s: “if it FEELS good, DO it.”

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/RBKOL26ROAMQK6ICWHJN3LQ6CY Daniel

        how about…Do It. Do it Do it till your sick of it” or ‘whatever rocks your boat’, or “if it moves, fondle it’!   that boy done got ‘fragged’

    • Carl Lammers

      FYI Her WP CLass had 1015 graduates. Anyone know her maiden name?

    • Dick Gossinger

      Buy a clue, you stupid bitch!

  • Amber Lee

    Another sex scandal. This one is a huge one for Obama administration. So much for public trust.

    • bobfrompittsburgh

      Name one American President that didn’t have the same problem, was either the president or someone working for them..

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RTZWQMD2ZVCWBK5FAETCE5TL6A CarlC

     People in high power roles can start to think that rules are for others.  It is a human flaw down through the ages.  Both these people were comfortable in a job that involves taking human life, and the “collateral damage” that will cause innocents to die.

    Having a second intimate relationship is a common enough event for many ordinary people.  Eisenhower was a key to finishing WW2, losing him  to command because of his affair with his secretary would have had tragic results for all of us in our time.  This political correctness can be very blind to realities  of actual human life.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000560409596 Greg Mathieson Sr

    I the jury is out and the trial hasn’t even taken place.  I hope Paula sues the hell out of people that are jumping to the end conclusion without any facts.  And I hope those that are stealing photos and posting them without permission are nailed for copyright infringement as well.  If you were friends with Paula on his facebook page as I was, you would see her husband, who is also in great shape, running in races, skiing, on trips, etc all the time. A mother of two great young kids as well.  I wouldn’t jump to conclusions yet.  The major news outlets are not, in that they know libel when they see it.  So lets all back off and see if anything develops and now set our to ruin someone’s life and family.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YJ7WKB6RPMNXOHF4YWCVJ2XXFI abvp

      Paula is a cheating slut that needs a good spanking.  Her husband is a cuckold.  He has likely come in contact with General Betrayus bodily fluids.  The first thing I would recommend for her husband is a paternity test.  Call Maury if you have must..

      • http://twitter.com/paul_e_ester Paul E. Ester

        “Her husband is a cuckold.” My thoughts exactly, he should be ashamed of being so beta, this was in his face for YEARS and now everyone KNOWS.

        • haljil

          To Paul E. Ester: Wow – you and abvp sound like such classy people with your insulting and fairly base comments!

    • MI guy


      I just want to say that I came back from Iraq in 2005 and went to Military Intelligence Career Course in Arizona, and Paula was in one of my phases to complete the course. I do agree that Paula was very Narcissistic when you had a conversation with her, and she was not afraid to make certain gestures to be the center of attention, and yes she is very money and status driven, so I am not surprise to what has occurred.

    • haljil

      I don’t know if you’ll see this comment after so long, but being in A’stan I don’t always get to check something like this! However I did wish to tell you that it is both refreshing and extremely gratifying to see someone who is being level headed about this post…

      I don’t know Paula Broadwell and whatever her transgressions, the level of misogynistic comments on this thread, are absolutely appalling! Also the half-witted remarks about both spouses – her husband as a cuckold and his wife as unattractive – show a degree of stupidity that is unbelievable!

      So thank you again for your level headedness and objectivity – which should have been the norm here, but obviously isn’t!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YJ7WKB6RPMNXOHF4YWCVJ2XXFI abvp

    What a cunt.  What do women find attractive about war criminals and sociopaths?  

    • Dick Gossinger

      you got it abvp. mattress mary strikes again

  • BKrog

    Paula, Bill Clinton called, says he’d like you to work with him on an intellectual biography.

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  • FintanOflaois

    What hypocrites the Americans are! They have no problem with making high-tech war against third world countries, including killing lots of women and children in drone strikes, but get all moral and tut-tutting when one of their top killers plays hide the sausage with a bit on the side. Judging by her fawning comments on him, I doubt whether Broadwell made her pussy hard to get.

    I love the book title, though, ALL IN. To the hilt, no doubt! ROFL

    • http://twitter.com/paul_e_ester Paul E. Ester

      The behavior is a national security risk as people are subject to blackmail.

  • Steve Tunley

    This woman, while successful, seems to be something of a Narcissist as well.

    • Hawkdriver1961

      Yes I served with her type in the Army. Always trying to out do the men in every respect, the biggest being running. Too many officers and NCOs think that the faster they can run and leave their troops behind, the better the leaders they are. Fact is no matter how much respect you give her type, they never feel they made it as a man’s equal, even though they did. On top of that the really good looking ones always seemed to make it to positions in higher HQs. They rarely stayed at anything lower than Brigade level for long, except when getting command time. I’ll leave it at that.

      • haljil

        To Hawkdriver1961: And what about types like Petraeus who are ambitious to the point of sacrificing everything else… Unlike the “rest of the world,” I have never been very enamoured of him! His motto has always seemed to be “me, myself and I” to the cost of everything else… Starting with courting the General’s daughter while at West Point, marrying her after graduation… He’s always made sure to be seen around the Washington party circuit and has done whatever expedient to push and promote himself… Sadly that is true of a lot of the men I work with in the Military… So let’s not just demonize one gender!!!

        • Hawkdriver1961

          You are absolutely correct and point taken..it does take two to tango and way too many officers, men and women, forget why they put the uniform on in the first place. They crossover from being with and taking care of the troops to reaching O-6 and above at any cost. That is human nature unfortunately and that did raise my eyebrow too when I saw he married the superintendent’s daughter.

      • Dick Gossinger

        No doubt Hawk. Type A Cunts do anything to best man, even the bang bang boogie!!

    • haljil

      To Steve Tunley: Honestly I’m somewhat shocked at the misogynistic tone
      of a lot of comments here! Has it occurred to you that Petraeus is
      “something of a narcissist” as well?

  • GoingAlong

    Wow, good career and apparently no connection at home. Yes, there are casualties, but hey, after this election, lets roll with it. I hope that Paula and David find happiness together. They both will have time. I hope the government gives her free womans care.

  • http://twitter.com/paul_e_ester Paul E. Ester

    Paula through her actions has caused more damage to national security than the Taliban could ever dream of. Look at those precious children, can you imagine how crazy she is to betray them.

  • Frederico

    For her its all about money!!!!

    • Hawkdriver1961

      Yep…She will have a book out in about 6 months to a year from now. Count on it.

    • haljil

      To Frederico: The silly comments here are compelling me to defend a woman for whom I have little respect! She’s richer than he is: husband’s a radiologist – they mint money – and she’s written a few other things as well… Petraeus stood to gain a lot from such a fawning and flattering portrayal – which never once delved into his relatively well known talent for self-promotion!

      Both thought that they would gain and both have ultimately lost!!!

  • Ben

    Can you blame him???? Have you seen pictures of his wife????

  • Frederico

    Its still about money,she has no regrets,she has the fame,possible movie and next book contract…Peterus will work for Oil or defense think tank…there is never a dull moment in American SOAP opera ..Thanks Miss Kranz

  • justanaverageguy

    What is Broadwell’s and the other woman’s religious heritage and background?

    An investigator with an ounce of sense needs to know that because it makes a big difference on cultural, motives etc. If they were Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Catholic or have other religious ties is key and relevant, as heritage makes a huge difference in what people believe to be culturally appropriate.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.cobb.946 Mike Cobb

    November 26 – Update: Paula Broadwell has now retained both an Attorney and a Public Relations firm in Washington DC. So far, she is the only member in the entire cast of characters in the David Petraeus Sex Scandal to do so. Her need for an Attorney is obvious .. she’s facing some potentially very serious charges, both military and civilian. But a PR expert? It is reported she has hopes of reviving her career. And just what career might that be? … Consultant to Terrorists, Fiction Writer, Con Man, or Escort (Outcall Only). The more we learn about her, the less
    qualified she appears to be for any other line of work. Someone really needs to evaluate the curriculum for graduation from West Point.

    Thus far, the only characters in the play to make public statements are Petraeus and Natalie Khawam, the sister of Jill Kelley. There has been nothing from either Paula or her husband Scott or their “hired mouth.” And they are conspicuous by
    their absence. Speculating … it may be because there’s just not a lot she can say in the way of defending herself; that she knows she’s been caught and to deny it only invites public condemnation. Thus, her silence is an admission of guilt.

    At the risk of sounding sexist, Scott Broadwell was interviewed some time back; and he stated that in order to draw the two of them closer together in their marriage, that he literally turned wife Paula loose to pursue whatever professional goals she had. I am reminded of an old adage usually found carved on wooden wall-hangers in gift and craft shops, to wit …

    “If you love something, turn it loose.
    If it comes back to you it’s yours.
    If it doesn’t, it never was.”

    Uh … Scott, old man, it’s pretty obvious now … she was never yours; and you have never been more than a means to an end. Indeed, she could never truly commit to any one man. Her lifelong drive to quell an insatiable ambition assures that. You really need to re-define the entire nature of your association with Paula Kranz (Broadwell). She has physically demonstrated by her own behavior that you are the only person in your household who is married. Do you really want your sons to be raised by a person who is so totally amoral?

    Scott, how do you deal with knowing that you, yourself, created the situation where you would stay at home and play Mr. Mom while your wife was halfway around the world having the time of her life … banging a Four-Star General? Do you feel stupid? Do you feel like you’ve been played like the same cheap violin as David Petraeus? Have you realized that marrying her was the biggest mistake you ever made … and that it’s a mistake you can rectify? That woman living in your house that you thought was your wife already has a Lawyer … it’s time you got your own.

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