We don't know precisely the relationship between General Dwight D. Eisenhower and his driver, Kay Summersby, during World War II. But it is evident that it was romantic in some ways, and, by her later account, quite intimate. If Ike were judged by today's standard, he would have been sent home in disgrace from Europe, and the war likely would have been worse without his calm, determined and unifying presence. He was not fired. But dozens of other Army officers, including 16 division commanders in combat, were relieved of command during the war -- for professional reasons.
Matthew Ridgway was another great American general, serving in World War II and Korea. Over a few months in 1951, in one of the best but lesser-known episodes of American generalship, Ridgway turned around our fortunes in the Korean War. Like Ike, Ridgway was fond of female companionship. He almost seemed to get a new wife for every war. In his personal papers on file at the U.S. Army archives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, interspersed with discussions of how to improve combat leadership in the Korean War, there are some terse notes from his first wife's lawyer.
This change may have occurred in part because we as a nation no longer have much military experience and no longer prize military effectiveness, nor even are capable of judging it. In past wars, soldiers eager to survive would forgive their leaders a multitude of lapses if they believed those leaders knew their business.