The Two Men We’re Overlooking in the David Petraeus Scandal

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Gordon Chaffin asserts that just because the husbands of the two women involved in the Petraeus sex scandals aren’t making a show of grief, that doesn’t mean they’re not upset.

We’ve spent quite a lot of time discussing the two women who allegedly had affairs with resigned CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus: Patreaus biographer Paula Broadwell and Tampa* socialite Jill Kelley. What we haven’t been discussing in great detail are their husbands, Dr. Scott Broadwell and Dr. Scott Kelley. Hard to believe that we’ve been overlooking the fact that both alleged mistresses were married to doctors, both named Scott. And it really is unfortunate that we’ve heard so little about the FBI agent who discovered Patreaus’s infidelity after a seemingly unrelated complaint from Mrs. Kelley, and then sent Mrs. Kelley shirtless pictures of himself.

More importantly, I’d like to point out something that the wonderful women on ABC’s The View seem to have overlooked. To their credit, they did discuss the slighted husbands, wondering how Drs. Broadwell and Kelley were dealing with the whole scandal. In what was a longer discussion, the View pundits spent a few minutes discussing men. Men handling the infidelity of their wives. Let’s focus on that.

I love the women of The View, but they were way off here. The consensus at their table was that the two men were ducking media attention and refraining from public comment because they are hoping to ride this out and parlay it into a media payoff or a reality show. They compared the “women who stand by their man” with these two doctors, and men in general, as cold and less interested in reconciling the emotional damage with their spouses than a woman would in the situation.

Women deal with an affair of their high profile husband with emotion, even when they stick around. Wives disclose that they’re working on their marriages; husbands of cheating wives shut up and go cold. Notice a pattern? Yes, this is an extension of the men-don’t-emote stereotype.

The thrust of my point here is not that the husbands should be a major media topic (I await comments with links to news stories), but that the husbands aren’t being cold, they aren’t being unfeeling. Drs. Scott and Kelley are probably emotional wrecks right now. That doesn’t mean they show it.

Men have just as much capability for communication as women and we feel emotion of the same magnitude, even when our outward expressions do not. I’m not a fan of gender stereotypes and double standards when they are anti-women, and I certainly don’t put up with them when they’re anti-men. I feel the latter is the case here. Men, though we have certain psychological and biological tendencies, are not the stoics that most of culture makes us out to be. Good men are not as the romantic comedies portray them to be: emotionally inept fools who can’t communicate feelings, much less experience them in coherent capacity.

Drs. Broadwell and Kelley are probably feeling just as much anguish, confusion, betrayal, and anger as would their wives, or wives in general in such a situation. Good men experience emotions just as women, but perhaps the majority of men choose to express them differently than women. That’s alright. We’re from “different planets” after all.

Good men can be stoic, good men can be happy warriors, good men can defend honor and good men can “stand by their woman.” Those same men can, at the same time, be scared, torn, and hurt. We’re not unfeeling creatures, we’re just different.


*Correction, originally listed as Miami.

About Gordon Chaffin

Gordon Chaffin is a young profession in DC working in PR. When not at work, he's contemplating how to be a good man instead of listening to grad school lectures and tweeting about politics, policy, and leadership under the stealthy pseudonym @Gordon_Chaffin.


  1. Frankly, I just don’t understand why anyone’s pecadilloes need to be public information. If there’s a potential security breach, sure, have the feds check into it. But otherwise I don’t really care who is cheating on a spouse, male or female. The media frenzy surrounding such situations literally makes me sick to my stomach. Is there really not enough real news out there?

  2. With every passing day this site looks more and more like a tabloidy womens’ magazine.

    And I’m seriously unimpressed with the pop up ads for cosmetics.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Could be, could be. We really don’t know. Drs. Kelly and Broadwell could also be thinking:

    This is the last straw, and now I don’t feel so guilty about considering divorce the way that I have all these years.

    Thank goodness I have my mistress, the true love of my life, to comfort me.

    Now I’m set free, to get married to someone I really want to get married to.

    I can’t believe she did this to me again. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    I thought it was odd that one time when he was wearing my shirt.

    He can have her. They deserve each other. Keeping them together would be punishment for both of them.

    This will make my memoirs far more interesting. There’s gotta be a book deal in here somewhere.

  4. I’m sure a lot is going on that we don’t see or hear…and for the sake of their families, friends, and medical practices, discretion is key….

    But we can watch Richard Gere, Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez in “Unfaithful” (or the French movie “Infidele”), for more titillation, can’t we?

  5. When people pontificate about what’s going on in other people’s minds reveals either (1) more about the pontificator than the person being scrutinized or (2) a general low or high view of people in general.

    Probably even 10 years ago, there would be no expectation of the husbands to show anything in particular. Now, it’s like they owe us something by way of a reaction? And any reaction–any–would be used against them one way or another.

    The hope in any of these situations: That it would be an opportunity for deeper work in a marriage. If it’s irreconcilable, so be it. If not, then perhaps all four couples involved can somehow salvage and become even stronger. I always hope for the latter.

    • Chris Anthony says:

      Spot on.

    • Mike Russo says:

      Hell yes. Because this is some kind of public affair, the Drs. Scott (odd how that worked out..) OWE the public some kind of response? This isn’t a daytime soap opera. This is someone’s life, and they owe no one anything. They don’t even owe their wives loyalty, what would they owe the public?

      I hate to be stereotypical, but this is very common of The View. None of these women are educated psychologists, none of them are social scientists, what right do they have to say things that are so hurtful? Even if they had those educational backgrounds, that would still not give them a right to make a judgement call on the situation.

      This is a group of women that essentially condoned of a wife cutting off her husband’s penis, simply because he is a man, and should be able to physically defend himself. They specialize in playing off tired stereotypes that do no one but their ratings any good.

  6. I expect the husbands are feeling humiliated right now by the whole thing and kudos to them for not using the opportunity to grab the spotlight. It makes them seem a lot classier than their wives.

    • I suspect that for Dr. Kelly this affair is just another stepping stone to him and his wife’s 15 minutes- or more on the reality show circuit.
      I have no opinion vis Dr. Broadwell.

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