Sunday, September 24, 2006

Amy Klobuchar -- Sincere apology or pragmatic compromise?

Posted by Craig Westover | 11:30 AM |  

Hour five of the Northern Alliance on Saturday, King Banaian and Michael Brodkkorb were all over the Kolbo-gate issue. There was the expected partisan harranging of the issue, but also some good points were made about Klobuchar’s handling of the issue, not the least of which is that Mark Kennedy’s campaign was contacted by the press BEFORE they learned of the theft from the Klobuchar campaign. That’s a pretty significant factor in evaluating Amy’s “sincere apology.”

A sincere apology (Is there any other kind?) ought to be an admission that you screwed up, and implicit in a sincere apology is that you will do what it takes to make the situation right and do so as quickly as possible. Whatever actions the Klobuchar campaign took, it is becoming clear that they were first and foremost predicated on what was best for the Klobuchar campaign and not what was the right way to rectify the Klobuchar campaign’s screw up.

Once can forgive a little hesitation in action on Klobuchar's -- we’re all human, and when we screw up, first reaction is rationalizing how, whatever the situation, it’s not really our fault. But the mark of leadership and character is how quickly one gets past that initial defensiveness and goes about making amends.

A great movie moment comes at the end of Robert Redford’s film “Quiz Show” when Ralph Fiennes playing Charles VanDoren confesses before a congressional committee that his victories on the popular television quiz show “Twenty-One” were rigged. Several members of the committee praise him for his honesty until one committee member has the courage to speak the obvious: There is no redemption for a man of Van Doren’s intelligence to come clean after having been complicit in a lie for so long.

That’s the position Amy Klobuchar has put herself in. She wants praise and redemption for doing the right thing -- for firing her communications director, for reporting the incident to the FBI and for notifying the Kennedy campaign, however belatedly. At the same time, she has drawn a line at how far she will go to make the situation right.

One can only echo the sentiments of the congressional character from Quiz Show -- there is no redemption in a "sincere apology" that ultimately proves to be a pragmatic compromise with the perception of remorse.