It's been nearly five months since David Petraeus stepped down as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency after revealing his affair with biographer and acolyte Paula Broadwell — thus exposing a ring of crossed lovers later dubbed the Love Pentagon — and now Petraeus wants to say he's sorry. Last week the University of Southern California announced that Petraeus, a 37-year Army veteran, would deliver a speech, scheduled for tonight at 9 p.m. PDT, at an annual dinner for students serving in the university's R.O.T.C. battalion. And today The New York Times, which obtained a leaked transcript of Petraeus's speech, reveals that the former he'll be going heavy on contrition:
“Needless to say, I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago,” Mr. Petraeus will say [...] “I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing. [...] So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led me to resign from the C.I.A. and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.”
It's unlikely Petraeus will go into detail about the "circumstances" under which he resigned; the event is billed as a tribute to returning military veterans, and Petraeus probably doesn't want to hog the venue to focus on his own infidelity. According to the Times, the speech was "arranged long before Mr. Petraeus resigned," so it's not as if Petraeus is going to pull a Lance Armstrong and confess all of his sins. After all, Petraeus never denied his own.
That Petraeus's first public appearance would function as an apology isn't all that surprising, of course, beyond how long it took. (Petraeus stepped down from the C.I.A. on November 9, since which Petraeus has been living in suburban Washington, D.C., out of the public eye.) Nor is the venue: as the former leader of American troops in Afghanistan, speaking before a school's R.O.T.C. students makes sense.
What is surprising, however, is who might not show up at all: Petraeus's wife. Buried eighteen paragraphs into their preview of tonight's event, the Times reveals that Holly Petraeus, who works on banking regulations that affect military families, will not attend the dinner. To some degree her absence is understandable — as many outlets reported in November and thereafter, her husband's affair threw their marriage into turmoil — but it also underscores the degree to which Petraeus relied on his wife to support his ambition as a military officer. Which means that tonight's speech is unlikely to be the last time Petraeus apologizes for his misdeeds, in public or in private.