November 19, 2012

Petraeus: Partying on a Nickel

Petraeus Kellly kiss

Sally Quinn recently noted (as the daughter of a general) how U.S. generals are treated like stars but live on a non-star’s salary.

I’ve lived this aspect of military life. When my father was head of U.S. Naval operations in a foreign country, we had chauffeurs, maids, cooks, etc., but lived on a flag officer’s salary. My parents socialized with diplomats and wealthy fans of the U.S. Navy. Of course, senior officers are not born into this social set–they start out as junior officers and progress in rank and salary.


As Holly and Dave rubbed shoulders with social elites, Holly was aware that it had not always been that way. Even on a four star general’s salary, she could not afford to entertain or dress or maintain herself in the same manner as Jill Kelley. And she’s been alone, raising kids for a hefty chunk of her married life. The point here is that many senior officers and their wives are awed by the people they suddenly hang out with, people they’re not accustomed to calling friends. People who, without their money and connections and adulation of things military, would never meet Dave Petraeus, would never be handing him out awards, would never press their faces as close as Jill Kelley’s in the photo above. But once having met them, befriending them is a matter of judgment.

— Karen Hull

(photo: NY Daily News caption: Gen. David Petraeus kisses Jill Kelley after he was presented with an award at a ceremony at Kelley’s home in Tampa, Fla., in the summer of 2011. image 2: screenshot via Rock Center with Brian Williams: Four Star Power.)

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Karen Donley
See other posts by Karen here.

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