People behind the headlines: Shedding light on personal fallout from scandal
Michael O'Hanlon, director of research for the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Dick Uliano, wtop.com
WASHINGTON - Paula Broadwell, biographer and paramour of Gen. David Petraeus, is receiving public words of support from a colleague and friend to both her and Petraeus.
In an opinion piece for The Baltimore Sun, Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes that Broadwell is a "caring person who is being unfairly demonized."
"The media coverage of her has really piled on," O'Hanlon tells WTOP about the affair that led to Petraeus' resignation as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. "I just want people to understand a fuller portrait of her."
O'Hanlon predicts that Petraeus, like other national leaders ensnared in sexual scandal, can regain public approval in time. But for Broadwell, O'Hanlon expects the road back to be tougher.
The national security scholar who has written extensively on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars says he's not defending what he calls "big mistakes" made by both Petraeus and Broadwell, but thinks perception of the incident should focus on what it says about people.
"We should think of this whole very sad episode, really, as a case study in human weakness and not in human evil," he says.
O'Hanlon says media accounts have been particularly harsh in portraying Broadwell as someone who doesn't know how to tell the truth.
He has been in contact with Broadwell and says she is struggling as she focuses on her family and attempts to repair the damage from her affair with Petraeus.
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