I don’t really know exactly how this happened, but over the past several years, political operatives have convinced large numbers of Americans that admitting a mistake is a sign of weakness. So rather than apologizing — saying “I’m human” — politicians either hold their ground, often digging in further even when the facts are against them, or they try to spin the story and/or change the subject entirely.
This trend is as dangerous as it is wrong.
I remember being absolutely blown away when reporters interviewed President George W. Bush toward the end of his second term and asked if he had any decisions he regretted or anything he’d do over again. Bush, with a smug self-assured grin on his face, couldn’t name anything. Really, Mr. President? Every decision on Iraq was the right one? (What about the “no WMDs” thing?) The economy was losing 700,000+ jobs a month when you left office. You came in with a budget surplus and left Obama with a $1 trillion+ annual deficit. The U.S. added $5 trillion to the national debt in your term. You can’t name one thing you’d have done differently?
We’re witnessing this same level of ego, hubris and delusion from Pete Hoekstra over the past 24 hours.
There’s a reason “pride” is on the list of Seven Deadly Sins.
Of course the Super Bowl ad was racially insensitive. The news coverage from around the world is near unanimous on this front. Maybe he misjudged how offensive it could be perceived by some (which calls his judgement into serious question), but there’s hugely negative press across the board — it’s not just the hard-core lefties who are crying foul.
What do I think? I actually don’t believe Pete did this to be intentionally malicious. I think he’s really, really simple-minded and is in way over his head. The former Congressman misconstrued his easy re-elections with competence and intelligence. He had no business being in the US House of Representatives for 18 years, but the guy never had a serious challenge after his upset victory in 1992. And when he finally had some competition in the 2010 Gubernatorial election, he was soundly defeated.
Pete should know better, but he ultimately may not. I do know he has advisors who know better, and the media strategist who created the ad, Fred Davis of California-based Strategic Perception Inc., knew absolutely what he was doing. The front page of their website cynically asks, “If you don’t notice it, why bother?”
As Pete went to bed tonight thinking about his day, I know he realizes he made a mistake. The right thing to do when he wakes up in the morning would be to call a press conference or issue a press release apologizing for the insensitivity, pull the ad, and talk about the steps he’ll take to earn back the public’s trust.
I don’t think he has the self-confidence to do it. Pete’s made a career out of finger-pointing and avoiding accountability and responsibility, and he’s too jaded, cynical and stubborn to change now.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Basically, what Emerson is saying is that too much consistency is something you’ll find in people who are not creative thinkers and folks who choose to stay boxed into their comfort zones rather than expanding their minds to search for fresh ideas and differing viewpoints.
Hoeskstra is not one to expand his vision to include new thoughts and methods.
Pete Hoekstra had numerous chances on Tuesday to say “I’m sorry.” Instead, he doubled down, while ignoring the huge outcry and deleting the negative comments that piled up on his Facebook page.
In today’s flattening, global world, where we face stiff competition from countries like China, as Hoesktra warns, the US needs leaders who are dynamic, forward-thinking, optimistic, tolerant and use good judgement.
Pete Hoekstra has none of those qualities,and he must not become Senator.
Michigan can, and must, do better.