Why Powerful Men Get In Trouble (and Why We Care)

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. He he has a memoir on faith, family and parenting called PregMANcy: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.

Christian Blogs for Patheos, Huffington Post, Sojourners and others.

For more information about Christian, visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on Twitter (www.twitter.com/christianpiatt) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/christianpiattauthor).


  1. wellokaythen says:

    I assume there are people who care. The press must have some idea that people want to hear about such things. I think it’s clear that much of the media WANTS me to care or hopes I care about such peccadilloes.

    But, be careful trying to measure people’s interest based on what journalists choose to highlight. What I care about and what the media assumes I care about may be two very different things. Thinking about it from another angle – if no one had any interest in hearing about the Petraeus affair, how would the news media ever discover than no one cares? When did journalism ever act as a direct reflection of what people cared about?

    Another reason why we (might) care is because there may be some unresolvable issues to wrestle with. When there’s some moral ambiguity or difference of interpretation or some judgment call, I think there’s a more interesting story, at least for me. If there’s a simple, easy judgment to make, I find it a much less interesting news item. “Should someone be fired for having an affair?” sounds like a thorny question to me, and the answer is “It depends.” Makes an interesting thought experiment.

  2. First, I’m going to be an annoying nerd and split hairs. “Psychopath” doesn’t apply at all, though “sociopath” might a little. Sociopaths break rules and take risks; psychopaths hear voices and think their brain receives signals from outer space (I know you didn’t title the book, Christian). But, really, narcissism is more at play than anything else, I think. Either you have to be a bit narcissistic to think you are capable of leading the world’s largest military force or you become narcissistic because everyone around you convinces you that you can do no wrong. It’s usually a combination of the two. It’s one of the reasons powerful, popular men do things that makes us all go, “How could he be so stupid?” The live in a grandiose, distorted reality where their behavior is justified and they are immune from harm, as you rightly said.

    But I think our own fascination comes from our own narcissism. Our schadenfreude results from a sense that we’re morally to superior to generals, presidents, pro athletes, and celebrities. We didn’t grow up to realize the dreams of our youth, but we can celebrate our moral superiority over those who did.

  3. wellokaythen says:

    Has anyone started blaming same-sex marriage yet for “ruining” other people’s marriages? I’m a little surprised Pat Robertson didn’t come out (so to speak) blaming Petraeus’ behavior on the acceptance of same-sex marriage. He blamed the attacks of 9/11 on gays and pro-choicers, so why not blame gay people for these things, too? Clearly the “gay agenda” has destroyed traditional marriage in this country, and Mrs. Petraeus is just one more victim of that insidious movement….

    Let the post hoc fallacies begin.

  4. I have to sat, this obsession with the “sex scandal” appears to be far more prominent in anglo-saxon culture than elsewhere. The Brits, and you guys in the US, for some reason you (or your media) go all weird if whatever powerful person has an affair. An I can’t figure out why.

    If my prime minister, or major, or whoever, has an affair, I can see why their spouse and other family would care. But me?I care about their policies and their leadership. And most people in large parts of continental Europe agree. You just could not whip up a frenzy about something like this.

Speak Your Mind