It figures that the Heartistes are having a full combat gear field day over the Petraeus affair. Thoughts that a decent person might express with some reticence and nuance, such as the inevitable comparisons of Paula Broadwell’s sex appeal to Holly Petraeus’, the Heartistes are expressing crudely and aggressively, and then wallowing in them, like hogs in a quagmire of slop and their own shit. To wit, this passage from the main post: “How in tarnation is Petraeus’s potato sack poster wife for Puritan living supposed to compete with this fuel-injected sex machine? There isn’t a man alive who would pass up a chance at tapping that harlot if his only alternative was Miss Massachusetts 1687.”

One might hope for a more considerate mindset in a discussion about faded youthful beauty, in which case looking for that discussion at Chateau Heartiste is about as productive as asking Fred Rogers for advice on gratuitously insulting one’s classmates. It’s a frothing Nixon/Fuhrman axis nutfest, not a voice of magnanimity crying out in a wilderness of cruelty. These guys aren’t trying to help the betas navigate this cruel world; rather, they’re mocking us for not being more duplicitous and inconsiderate around women, traits that they regard not as duplicity but as “game,” by which they mean stupid, shallow, even barbaric behavior tailored to appeal to women’s basest, most animalistic instincts. Their assertion that this is not duplicitous is either delusional or a lie, but as one of Jeffrey Toobin’s sources said about Mark Fuhrman, “He looks like Ollie North, he talks like Ollie North, and he lies like Ollie North.”

I include myself among the betas intentionally. I’ve never imagined that I’m an alpha, nor have I wanted to be one when I’ve seen how wretchedly most alphas act. Unfortunately, I’ve spent plenty of time around alphas, practically always at their suggestion, not mine, and as one of their girlfriends enthusiastically announced on a rare night when her normally possessive boyfriend was too tired to go out with us, “I’m off the leash tonight!” She got pretty frisky with me on a couple of occasions that night, including earlier in the evening, before her boyfriend fell asleep, when I showed her some pictures of my crush, whom she found quite cute. I may have written a word or two about some of these individuals before, but I like me some plausible deniability, so of  course I haven’t, and this is all just a pile of shit.

This odd business of turning on Woman A by showing her a picture of Woman B and hopefully implying the possibility of future sexual relations with Woman B suggests that the Heartistes have an ear to the ground about human sexuality. That said, I should reiterate that I’ve never accused Richard Nixon or Mark Fuhrman of being stupid. It isn’t the existent stuff they’re perceiving that’s the problem; it’s the nonexistent stuff. Overheat that kind of machine and you’ll see the signal-to-noise ratio plummet. Remember, the “dirty tricks” that Nixon’s goons pulled in 1972 were meant to fix an election in which Nixon ultimately won 49 states. Because you know, you just can’t be too cautious when you’re running against an imploding Democratic Party, especially when Mark Felt is a Jew.

This isn’t to say that Bircher-grade paranoia is the only problem with the Heartistes. Some of them get rather bitter and malicious, too. One of the themes at CH is the purpose of marriage as an institution to sex up beta males whose wives would otherwise run off with alphas and leave them dry. This putative sharing of the wealth isn’t an inherently bad idea; it’s certainly better than the combination of polygyny for the town leaders and banishment of surplus young men that prevails in hardcore Mormon polygamist communities like Colorado City. The problem is with how some of the asshats in the Chateau Heartiste comment thread suggest enforcing it.

Consider this gem from Nine Furies: “I find it sad that men in “civilized” society no longer have the sack to inflict violence upon other men that poach their property(women).” [Sic]

Then, this response from Greg Eliot: “I’ve often said that dueling should be legalized…  the [Sic plurum] problem today is, as the internet all-too-plainly demonstrates and amplifies, is that there’s no penalty for being an asshole.”

If I’m not mistaken, what Eliot means by “asshole” is the adulterer, not the assailant or murderer who avenges his cuckoldry with felony violence. In that vein, we get an even more feral suggestion from Highlander: “The problem is you can’t bash the shit out of the “Other man”, [Sic plurum] You end up in jail, your soon to be X get’s restraining orders, you never get to see your kids etc. Then three months later the bastard is living in your house and driving your freaking car. Sad f’in world we live in now.”

No shit. You end up in jail because you decided to deal with marital infidelity by becoming a blatant menace to public safety. You couldn’t refrain from resorting to violence to resolve a sexual dispute, so your ass is in the slammer, and unlike Rod Blagojevich’s, it needs to be there because people like you are a direct threat to civilization. And maybe your wife finally saw your true colors, got sick of your possessiveness, and decided that she’d rather live with a guy who doesn’t commit aggravated battery on his sexual rivals at the drop of a hat.

By the publisher’s own admission, some of the vile commentary on CH is tongue-in-cheek. The question, then, is just how skilled these troglodytes are at deadpan humor. Using the kind of blunt language that they do, I can think of two scenarios: either Charles Barkley’s SNL skits were rank amateurism by comparison, or else the Heartistes write in earnest, and deadly so.

Keep in mind that many of these people find it entertaining to make fun of Scott Broadwell for being a goofy-looking cuckold. They’re much less interested, if they are at all, in how Dr. Broadwell actually feels about having a cheating wife. The same thing might be asked about Holly Petraeus. Is there no chance that they realize that their spouses’ frequent and extended travel in military circles is an inevitable source of temptation? Might they accept to some extent that their spouses will be relatively inattentive due to their work lives, and that that inattentiveness might include adultery? Are they really so smitten with their spouses or so naive as to be shocked by revelations of infidelity in these circumstances? I’d hope not.

Let’s assess Scott Broadwell’s reaction this way: His wife was running around with the most revered living military officer in the country, whose biography she was writing; if he were a jealous, possessive asshole, would he allow his wife to do that? The possessive alphas I know personally or know of through friends who are dating them would totally flip their shit if that happened. My gut feeling, then, is that Scott Broadwell doesn’t totally freak out about sexual affairs or “emotional affairs” involving his women. Maybe he’s the kind of guy who’s thrilled that such a hot, brassy woman was willing to shack up with him in the first place, and who isn’t stunned that she got sexual with a man who by national consensus positively oozes military charisma when the opportunity arose. Maybe he’d still jump at the chance to bang the shit out of his wife because he’s less concerned with what else has been in her pussy than with the sexual and interpersonal chemistry that they have at the moment.

Even if he’s badly hurt or even angry at Paula, Scott Broadwell’s failure to take a tire iron to David Petraeus’ skull demonstrates that he’s civilized, closer to a genuine gentleman than to the easily butthurt bruisers who genteelly shot one another with derringers in the days of yore because one of them had called the other’s wife slatternly. My feeling is that a gentleman makes an effort to forgive his wife for being unfaithful and certainly tries not to let her infidelity bring about a permanent estrangement, and that there’s no reason for a gentleman not to unabashedly enjoy sloppy seconds from a helpmeet whose company he gratefully enjoys. A gentleman doesn’t get his feathers badly ruffled because internet assholes are calling him a horse’s ass for not flipping his shit when he learns that his wife has a piece on the side.

I guess it’s a perverted sense of gentlemanly conduct that I have. I don’t consider it gentlemanly to avenge one’s cuckoldry by putting the other guy in concrete boots at the bottom of the Potomac a few miles downstream from Mount Vernon, but apparently some people do. Yikes. You see, Scott Broadwell (and probably Holly Petraeus as well) represents an advance in civilization, an advance that the peanut gallery at Chateau Heartiste would like to hit with a few tactical warheads. Part of this advance in civilization is that fewer of us betas pay homage to the social convention that we should be horrified by the slatternly conduct of our wives. Some of us (the views expressed herein are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Scott Broadwell) consider the sexual behavior of women we’re dating or would like to date holistically, as a minor component of their overall compatibility with us. Some of us have much worse fears about our prospective wives than the prospect of sexual infidelity; better the kindly, decent slut, we figure, than the sexually upright bitch who will henpeck us to death.

Indeed, some of us take the long, broad view with respect to women playing the field. We might, however, rather that the women in our lives play the field with men of good character. We might find it problematic to discover that our lovers have been involved with O’Brienesque chaps who gleefully oversee remote control assassination campaigns.