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Could Petraeus scandal enable fiscal cliff deal by diverting media glare?

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It has all played out like a real-life episode of “Homeland,” Showtime’s popular CIA drama. As New York Rep. Peter King (R) commented in a recent television interview: “It has the elements, in some ways, of a Hollywood movie, or a trashy novel.”

And naturally, it’s the kind of story the chattering class simply cannot resist. That’s primarily because it involves sex, but also because there’s a suspicious timeline (who knew what when) involved. Most important, because of the critical nature of Mr. Petraeus's and General Allen’s positions, it has raised real questions about whether national security might have been put at risk – or, at least, whether these high-level officials were unduly distracted from their extremely important, taxpayer-funded jobs.

The scandal has created a big, unexpected problem for the president, who now has to scramble to fill two top personnel gaps on his national security team.

But there may be one silver lining: It is, so far, allowing the fiscal cliff maneuverings to proceed with only a fraction of the attention they would otherwise have received. And that may ultimately be more conducive to getting a deal.

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