There are other avenues David Petraeus could have taken to handle the scandal surrounding his name.
He could have denied everything. And denied it again. And then like other powerful men, he would almost assuredly have been caught in the web of his lies. And Paula Broadwell, driven crazy by the fire of her ambition, could have become a celebrity, what with the association of her name with that of the general. She could have written another book...her own book this time, with a glowing account of her many legitimate and honorable achievements and perhaps the occasional sly innuendo regarding some not-so-legitimate adventures as well. She probably would not have mentioned the unrelated harassment complaint against her which led the FBI to read her email and find her notes to and from the general. And J. Edgar's boys, ever eager to screw the CIA, would have had a field day.
But meanwhile, Petraeus's wife would have been dragged through the mud of the scandalous press, which is ever eager to make the news so that they can report it, fill the daily cable news cycle and sell more papers. Although his honor would not have been all that tarnished (for who is surprised that a soldier, deployed for sometimes years on end, has extramarital sex?), his marriage and the love he has for his wife would surely suffer from a scandal, perhaps beyond any possibility of reconciliation.
So how did he handle it? He stood up and bore it like a man. Before the story had had a chance to even become a rumor, General Petraeus resigned his post at the CIA, his resignation accepted by the president, and then the general went public with his confession.
So were we scandalized? No. A little titillated perhaps. But we're still getting over the election, and the sins of a brilliant general and a conniving witch seem, come to think of it, a lot less important than
So we do not play “Taps” for your career, soldier, and for being a helluva man, and doing the Right Thing, we honor you, General Petraeus.