Getting it wrong

It really sucks when you get something wrong.

This is unfortunately (or fortunately?) something that happens to me all the time.

I watch a lot of news. And it’s really disconcerting how badly most people handle getting something wrong.

I’ve written previously in my short time writing this about the fear of failure, and how failure can be a good thing, but this is an important topic that I’m going to end up coming back to.

For example: the beginning of this post sounds nothing like me. It sounds really forced, and sounds like I’m trying to write this for you, the reader, rather than for myself. Which is really not what I want to be doing.

See? That wasn’t that hard. I could have just kept on writing, trying to be really bland and come up with some nonsense that I might believe but might not really FEEL. And that would have been fine. I could have kept going for quite a while. But it would have sounded really forced and terrible.

So, rather than going on and on about something silly that you might or might not care about, let me get what I really wanted to talk about: it’s ridiculous that people in politics can’t just tell the truth.

I’ll give two examples to try and not be (too) biased:

Kellyanne Conway

Watching her Sunday morning on State of the Union on CNN, they showed her a really specific clip of her saying during the primary (as a Ted Cruz surrogate) that Donald Trump should release his tax returns.

She was asked, “so now that you are the campaign manager, should we expect to see them?” Her answer was a rambling diatribe about how she “learned” new information, like that Trump is under an audit. Then they asked about the returns that weren’t under audit and whether they’d be released… and she said no, and that she didn’t think that they should be. Never addressing her original call for them to be released.

So what was wrong there, and what should she have done? I’m answering this from the idealistic perspective, not the political perspective, becasue I think the problem here is the political skew.

What was wrong was, that she ignored the question. The question was, what changed from then till now? Saying “oh, I found out he’s under audit” is bullshit. That’s the first explination he gave. That’s ridiculous. At the same time, saying, “you know what, I take it back, he shouldn’t” is also ridiculous, because it’s so cravenly political.

I wish that she had been more upfront and said something like, “during the primary process, while trying to draw a distinction between Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz, this was a clear distinction in transparency. Since then, Mr. Trump has been very transparent in his disclosures of XYZ (I have no idea what he has or hasn’t disclosed, but I’m sure there’s something to say there). While I would like for him to be 100% transparent, as a business person, that’s not somethign that we can easily do as it doesn’t just affect him, but everyone involved in the Trump organization.”

From there, how easy is it to pivot to, “This is the same distinction that we draw between Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton. Neither are perfect, and neither have disclosed everything about every spec of their lives… but there’s a large distinction between Mr. Trump, and Mrs. Clinton who withheld information about how she handled classified US information, possibly putting the country at risk, etc.”

Right? Isn’t that more effective? I could be blindly idealistic, but honesty allows you to move forward, as opposed to constantly having to relitigate whether you were being truthful.

(full disclosure, she did try to do this in one of the many morning show hits she did this AM… but she tried to brush it off and hit Clinton too quickly)

Hillary Clinton

My god this email thing has been bungled like crazy. I don’t have the energy to go find all the terrible quotes from Hillary about why this isn’t a big deal and we should all just chill out. But here’s the thing: a lot of us would like to. But you can’t answer a damn question about it without sounding like a craven political monster.

So what would I do?

Well at this point it’s hard man. What she should have done is, right when this came out say, “Hey, I did this thing, I did it to try and be expidient in responding to non-classified communications, which was something that was done by previous Secretaries of State as well. While my intentions were good, clearly this was a mistake, and I didn’t vet that we had gotten proper clearances nor did we have the right people in place to monitor the non-classified emails. I’m sorry to the American people for not handling this better, and given the rate of change that occurs with technology will redouble my efforts to surround myself with experts who will help to ensure the security of classified communications within governmental enteties like the State department.”

Bang. Done. You’ll still have to answer questions, but then you can, to use the medias favorite term, “pivot” from the email controversy to saying, “what this really reveals is the lack of technological experitse in government”.

Similarly, with the Clinton Global Initiative, they are getting hit with “Pay for play” accusations. And their response was… shut down foreign and corporate donations? If you think you’re guilty, that’s exactly what you do, but you have to say, “We realize that these donations have the appearance to many of being incongruent with the fairness created within our democracy, and as a result, even though there has never been an issue with these donations and there has never been a donation that was given with for quid pro quo, we want to limit the appearance that is being peddled by bitter rivals that simply want to denegrate the Clintons.” But, instead… it’s just, “well, let’s get information on Donald Trumps ties to Russia”. Sigh. That’s not the question guys.

I get it, I get it.

In both of these examples you likely think, “but dude, you gotta play the politics game.” But… why? Do you trust politicians? Do you trust political operatives? Or do you trust people who give you the good, bad and ugly and say, “I might not be perfect, but at least you know where I stand”.

Liberals love and respect President Obama. And part of that is that he doesn’t present the easy story. He presents the hard complex truths and then tells you his perspective.

Neither of these candidates is another Obama. But they both have the potential to give us a glimpse of the real person behind the mask. From everything that I’ve heard about both of these people, they have a lot of information to reveal. Personally, I think that it’s a lot of good from Clinton and a lot of… well… shady dealings from Trump. But then again, I’m a hopelessly bleeding heart liberal. We’ll see if either of them gives us the benefit of the doubt that we can accept the real version of them and still be willing to give them our trust and our vote.