This is exactly the type of situation that my former alter-ego, I.M. Small, would have responded to. In fact, my book Small Poems includes several pieces that responded both to what Wikipedia refers to as the “MoveOn controversy” and the reported conditions of luxury under which he held his “camp” in the field (including this and this).
Small’s poems were never intended to be enduring monuments; and surely many of them were not particularly endearing either. Their purpose, or raison d'être was to exorcise whatever irksome thought happened to get planted in the brain by whatever snippet of ephemeral news. One supposes the general to be (or have been) a God-fearing patriot, as far as that gets you today: his leaking of state secrets was done for perhaps as laudable reasons as the leaking done by any other of America’s recent infamous whistleblowers or even Plame-outers. Heedless of both personal feelings and factual accuracy, satire’s barbs intend to cast no aspersions on his character, or on anyone else’s for that matter.
Here, then, is what the latest provocation caused—to spring forth fully-formed from one’s head as it were (the times offer no shortage of material to irk one):
Withdrawn from Mothballs to Advise
Petraeus may “betray us” passing his top secret docs
Behind closed doors (for love and not for millions),
But treason may be justified by “thought outside the box”:
So military men may woo civilians.
She was a pretty momma so if “duty” doth protest
Too much (I mean the poor disgruntled wife),
He sought a perky pillow not some saggy draggy breast
To rest his head upon with worries rife.
MoveOn gets vindicated for the headline that it wrote,
“Betray us” proved in hindsight so much truer,
But mankind understands, with reprimands let us not gloat:
A woman wooed demands much of her wooer.
He should not be condemned because of frolics in the sack,
Lest woman wooed betray a wooden heart:
He helped his countrymen to build a bollix in Iraq,
So let him now advise, sagacious, smart.
He is a chosen leader of a chosen people who’ve
Declared themselves exceptional, and even
A nation indispensable, as time will only prove
Provided there’s bags big enough to heave in.
The general, although unfrocked, let claim his uniform
Out of the mothballs, let him be adviser,
For since he helped the ship of state sail straight into the storm
For piloting could any man be wiser?
It was a mess we made of things; Iraq may not recover—
Let history pass its judgement on us down
The corridors of time—or as once lady said to lover,
“Love needs its proper food: move on, move on.
“The fallacy was nuclear, pretending that you wooed
Virtuous justice—married to the mob,
With unctuous oily criminals your cohort did collude
Civilization’s cradle for to rob.”
Oh, robbing of the cradle’s not a game for girls and boys,
It needs decisive posers, full of bluster, full of noise,
For when the US war machine in shock and awe deploys
Credible reputation is the first thing it destroys.