By Thomas Daly, Guest Contributor
It was so refreshing to hear the president yesterday. No big press conference, no convoluted statement just when talking about the Tom Daschle appointment for health secretary in an interview he said, “I screwed up”.
I was so excited by this. Not by the fact that he “screwed up.” But by the fact that we had a president who made a mistake and admitted it right away. From Water Gate to when President George W. Bush said on May 1, 2003, “Mission Accomplished” presidents hate admitting being wrong. They use rhetoric and double talk to try and cover up their mistakes. I think history would have been different if on November 18, 1973 Richard Nixon said, “I screwed up and I’m sorry” instead of, “I’m not a crook.” He might have saved his political career. Would history look a little kinder on the George W. Bush administration, if after “Mission Accomplished” thirty days later when we all realized it wasn’t over he said in an interview, “I spoke to soon; I think the war will last a long time.” And of course President Clinton would have saved himself some grief if he said, “I did have sexual relations with that woman.”
There is always time for words and rhetoric, and the power they wield. However, in some cases, speechwriters, public relations professionals and spokespeople are not needed. Sometimes all a person needs to do is tell the truth, admit he made a mistake and move on. In President Obama’s case I think it should give America a positive glimpse of what type of leader he might be.
Mr. Daly is the editor of Vital Speeches of the Day.