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Archive for Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Upfront people

October 5, 2004

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We all stumble and fall, and people who forget that and lie, steal and cheat pay a heavy price for nonacceptance.

The vast majority of Americans are honest enough about their own failings and weaknesses to realize that nobody is perfect and even the best of us make mistakes. It's old stuff, but honesty is the best policy, always has been, always will be. Those who stumble always are better off admitting their bungles and being honest in their explanations, particularly if they are prominent in the public eye.

Recently, media personality Dan Rather and his electronic network, CBS, have taken great heat, justifiably, for getting bamboozled by some fake documents and then trying to tough it out before having to admit they had been had.

Had Rather and CBS recognized they were taken and come forth quickly with an admission and an apology, they would not be in near the spot in which they now find themselves. Rather in particular tried to use his stern face and heavy clout to keep insisting he "had the goods" when, in truth, he and CBS didn't. Had they just faced up to it and been forthright with the public, people would have let them off the hook in a reasonably short period of time.

Again (and our all our political figures such as George W. Bush and John Kerry should take note), being frank and upfront could have made things so much better. The public, realizing that Rather and other CBS people are merely human, could have been forgiving.

Consider what the fate of President Richard Nixon would have been if he had been honest and direct and admitted his errors back in 1973 when the Watergate scandal broke. One lie after another compounded the situation, numerous nefarious acts were committed, and Nixon had to leave office in disgrace.

He'd declared "I am not a crook" in an effort to cover a sleazy path that proved he and his minions were just that. Why not just the facts, man?

Take Martha Stewart, the arrogant celebrity who built an empire on her role as a "domestic goddess." She reached the point she considered herself invulnerable to the rules and regulations that govern others, pulled a scam in the stock market and got caught. It was not that horrendous an act, but Stewart lied about what she did and was discovered. You watch her now as she plans to spend time in confinement and you still think she is unhappier about getting caught than about lying to people who had come to trust her.

There are deep and penetrating messages sent by cases of people such as Rather, Nixon, Stewart and other public figures who think they can make mistakes and then lie or stonewall their way out of them.

Nobody's perfect, most everyone recognizes and accepts that and will tolerate faults as long as the guilty parties are honest and respond in good faith.

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