Friday, June 23, 2006

Blois Olson's apology

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:42 AM |  

Several days ago Blois Olson sent me a copy of his apology to Michele Bachmann for remarks he made at the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast. Considering an apology a private matter between Olson and Bachmann, not a public relations document, I didn’t publish it or intend to comment on it. A sincere apology ought to be a private matter.

Olson has since made his private apology a public relations document. (see update)

People will read into what they will and decide whether apologizing for “misconceptions or misrepresentations” that he “may have expressed” is a sincere apology or merely his "sincerest apology," a public relations non-apology-apology, akin to Dean Johnson’s 90 seconds of remorse on the Senate floor for “inaccurate statements.”

So, for the record -- you be the judge.

June 16, 2006

Dear Senator Bachmann,

I would like to express my sincerest apology to you and your family for any misperceptions or misrepresentations I may have expressed about your views as a candidate for Congress.

Since leaving campaigns in 1998, I have worked to provide objective commentary in my role as a "pundit". I am often complimented for my more balanced commentary, including by our current Governor. Many times I am just as critical of DFLers as I am Republicans.

My comments at the TwinWest breakfast on June 16th, were not meant to misrepresent your position nor imply that you supported banning birth control.

While I am certain we agree on few issues, you should know that many times I have complimented your political abilities and successes. You state on your website that you are a “passionate about conservative social ideas”. My comments were truly meant to raise the question if you supported the “conservative social idea” that birth control should be illegal in the United States.

I also want you to know that I am in no way anti-Christian as you suggested on the radio. I am a regular attendee of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie. I might note that it is the same church that Governor Pawlenty and his family attend, as well as numerous other well-known Republican activists. I have a number of evangelical ministers in my extended family.

I do believe strongly that we need to bring less religion to politics, and therefore will always be critical of those who cite the Bible or any religion as the reason for legislation or a law in this country.

I know that you have a tough campaign ahead of you, and I hope you accept this apology so that we can both move on to more pressing issues, for you a campaign for me running a business and enjoying a private life with my family.

Please feel free to call me with any further thoughts, ideas or questions.


Blois R. Olson
What's interesting, is that while Olson apologizes for misrepresenting Bachmann, anti-Bachmann people are running with the misrepresentation. That's why bullsh*t is such an effective political tool. That he was called out for his comments might have caused Olson some temporary discomfort, but in the long run, he accomplished what he set out to do -- create a controversy.

Without attributing either intent or perspicacity to Olson, the contraception issue is a perfect issue for Patty Wetterling. It takes some research and political acumen to have a debate-level knowledge of energy policy, education, and the Iraq war that goes beyond simplistic mandates, more spending, and timetables. Anybody can, and everybody does, have an opinion on contraception. And that a lot of the opinion is just bullsh*t doesn’t matter.

We didn’t learn a lesson from the Dean Johnson fiasco. Chances are Blois Olson will get away with it too. In general, we don’t want to hold people to standards that we’re afraid we ourselves can’t always live up to, but to admit as much seems cowardly. Far easier to simply negate the standard. It’s easier on the conscience to accept the bullsh*t of others than hold ourselves accountable.

Watch it play out.

Update: Blois Olson called to say that he didn't know when he shared his apology with the anti-Bachmann site that it would be posted. Permission to post it wasn't specifically requested or given. He said he wasn't leaking information to the anti-Bachmann site.

Update: If one follows the comment thread, one will see how the issue played out. The vocal concern is focused on Bachmann, just as Olson intended. (Bullsh*t is just fine it seems, as along as it raises appropriate issues.) Those most concerned that Bachmann state her position on the vague issue of “contraceptives” are those most convinced they know what her position is. No discussion of the larger issue of how contraceptives have changed society for better and for worse.