John A. Tures: Admit mistakes, and move on

August 23, 2013 

The other week, I wrote a column in which I included the words "health savings accounts" and "HSAs." I meant to say "Flexible Savings Accounts" (FSAs). It was my fault. My bad.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it? Perhaps it was easy because I'm not very famous. There are some pretty famous people who keep digging themselves even deeper into a hole rather than apologize for mistakes or bad behavior.

Take the recent baseball scandal over performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). The league found Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun testing positive, but he was able to wriggle free due to a procedural loophole.

Now we've learned that he and "his camp" sure did a number on the person who possessed the results of the test, even trying to spread word through Major League Baseball that the guy was anti-Semitic. Now with evidence from the biogenesis lab, there's confirmation that Braun was a cheater. He might have had his image rehabilitated had he initially owned up to his error. Now he'll go down in history as one of the worst players ever.

He's topped only by the delusional, unapologetic Alex Rodriguez. "A-Rod" not only used PEDs on multiple occasions, but is accusing the Yankees of forcing him to play hurt, while denying any usage. According to Yahoo Sports, A-Rod leaked information on other players to try and reduce his sentence, but he's denying that as well.

But you don't need to use PEDs not to admit your mistake. When asked about betting on baseball, longtime gambler-in-denial Pete Rose said the other week that he should have taken up wife-beating instead of betting on baseball.

Those are just the words we need to hear to realize that Rose "gets it" and knows his actions are wrong, right? They simply confirm why we never need to hold up Pete Rose as a role model; we must show kids that everyone is accountable, even the overall leader in hits (and yes, that should apply to home runs too).

Politicians are no less likely to come clean and admit their failings. There's GOP Congressman Mark Sanford, who not only abandoned his family and state (as chief executive) to fly to Argentina to be with his mistress, but was caught during his comeback campaign sneaking around his ex-wife's house with a cell phone for a flashlight, in violation of his own agreed court ordered settlement. He was elected to Congress anyway, and treated his win as "vindication." He can buy a South Carolina seat, but he doesn't seem to be able to afford a little humility and remorse.

There's Tennessee GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais, but that would fill another column.

You probably remember Anthony Weiner, the "sexting Congressman" who resigned his seat after first claiming someone hacked his account to send obscene pictures of himself. He tried for a comeback by running for New York City mayor, but seems to have continued his sexting behavior, showing that an insincere apology is no different from failing to apologize. The good news for Democrats is Weiner's dropping in the polls, but they still have to contend with Bob Filner, the San Diego Mayor accused of numerous sexual harassment claims, who steadfastly denies it.

Each of these players and politicians has something in common with me, and all of us. We all make a mistake from time to time. That's expected, but how we handle mistakes says maybe a little more than making the mistake in the first place.

John A. Tures, associate professor of political science, LaGrange College; jtures@lagrange.edu.

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