Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The Importance of Admitting Mistakes

It seems to me that there are a few incontrovertible truths in this world--a few aside from all those many "everything is everything" and "the only constant is change" type dictums. One truth is that truths of the nature about which I'm talking are somehow quite difficult to digest, and further, to practice. The other truth is that sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, admitting the error of your ways is ONLY a positive thing, for everyone.

When President George W. Bush got up for his press conference on Tuesday night and fielded questions (for only the eighth time, I believe) in a scripted order from the White House press corps, it could have been a good time to own up to some of the failings of his Administration's way. When asked almost point blank if he'd do anything differently--such as, like, NOT initiate a wild goose chase for Saddam's purported and still-unfound WMD's; such as, like, NOT completely alienate a great majority of the international community that had been, in the months after September 11th, rallying behind us with all their sympathies, etc. etc. etc.--he just put on his figleaf cowboy machismo and snickered that he just couldn't come up with a mistake he'd made. He's "confident" he's made a mistake, but he "just can't" come up with one.

Let's take a minute and bring this down to our level. One time, a number of years ago, I was seeing this girl and completely blinded to anything but me and her. I was militant about my health, my lifestyles, evicting any old bad habit I could imagine, disowning friends by the busload, oftentimes with a big kick in the ass and derisive, scathing remarks on their way out the door. My compatriot on this page is one such buttkicked hombre. I was, with hindsight in tact, just one depressed guy who thought he'd found salvation in the form of a lady and a lifestyle surrounding her. Anything that didn't match up with the bubble was evacuated with force. A year or so passed, I ended the affair with the lady and returned more or less to myself with a couple hundred healthy and/or bruising lessons from my little escapade: one lesson: nothing encourages forgiveness than a good strong tail between your legs in front of those you've wronged. Apologies are empty vessels without admission of your failings and mistakes. I made a healthy round of apologies and admissions and all is good, in fact, all is better than it ever was. I learned a great deal about myself, and about friendship, from all of it. Yes, I may have alienated some people for a time, but the real friendships have endured.

But I can guarantee no one would have forgiven me if I'd come up and said, "I'm confident I've made a mistake, I just can't come up with one on the spot."

That statement that Bush said (and please, pardon the digression to a personal tale... it's awfully selfish, but it is connected) basically makes plain that Bush is either ignorant and/or a pathological liar: there are at least a couple (dozen) statements and courses of action he and his Administration have bodied forth that have been proven erroneous--i.e., that the "Mission" was "Accomplished" as he swaggered on the battleship; that there are masses of WMD's all over Iraq--and another couple (dozen) awaiting proof of error. He's never once atoned for his mistakes. Owning up and atonement is an 'option' in your personal life; one can go without it, even if it's more than a trifle. Taking Responsibility and Atonement should be a requirement for the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

And the bottom line: a man who is so despised by at least half of the population should know better than to flaunt himself like a gesturing cowboy when his mistakes are all a-flutter, as they are right now.

Disclaimer: talking hot-headed smack about the President of the United States is a cliché at this point in the game, which is a telltale, sorrowful fact in itself. I hope no one thinks that I think I'm solving some big problem by prescribing a better course of action for our President. This hot-headed smack is part-and-parcel of the problem facing the Democratic party (and all liberals opposing the Bush regime), in that, well, criticizing and slandering the work of another man is a damn easy thing to do when you're not doing what the dude's doing yourself. And hot-headed smack isn't convincing anyone who's getting his back. So, anyway, pardon the hot head; i'd have tried a little more diplomacy, but, well, I haven't had a good example of good diplomacy in a while. So there.


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