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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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The Power of Appropriate Apology

Uploaded: Mar 6, 2012
There's an old story that I've heard often enough that it may be true -- it concerns a law student who had to bring her 8 year-old son to contracts class one morning. The subject was non-performance and the socratic inquiry involved what you do when the agreement calls for delivery of two-hundred yellow widgets -- and you sent blue. As the Kingsfieldian professor peered out over the class, most of whom avoided eye contact, he saw the kid's hand in the air -- "First, I'd say 'I'm sorry,'" was his answer.

Out of the mouths of babes! There IS power in apology; indeed, there is good evidence to the effect that an occasional mistake, promptly rectified and including an appropriate expression of regret, actually forges a stronger commercial relationship than one in which performance is perfect, though untested. There are, of course, limits in such situations, but something in human nature is quite willing to forgive -- perhaps in the hope of compiling positive karma points. Apology, sincerely rendered, can also clear away emotional rubble from the path to resolution of a dispute. I'm not certain its value can be quantified, or that it extends to every situation, but it Can be a critical-path item that sets contentious matters on a constructive course.

Which brings us to this week's Incident: in which the presumed sexual mores of another law student were called into basest ridicule by the unquestioned king of political talk radio. In case you've been out of the galaxy, one Mr. Limbaugh labeled a heretofore unknown thirty-year-old Georgetown law student a 'slut' and a 'prostitute,' and invited her to post her sexual exploits on the web for his entertainment. She earned those scarlet letters by testifying before Congress about her desire...that the health plan she, her university and the insurer pay-for include coverage for contraception.

The ensuing firestorm included predictable expressions of outrage, advertiser defections, and the wholly inadequate "you're one, too" defense -- to the effect that lefty Bill Maher had described public figure Sarah Palin in anatomical terms. That meager claim, if true, is thoroughly distinguishable -- to call someone a body part is to signal a disagreement, albeit disagreeably -- to call her a 'round-heel' is an attempt to fundamentally degrade her, conjuring the misogynism of the Salem colony. That it came from an oft-married man who famously flies solo with Viagra in his luggage adds a nicely hypocritical touch. In general, I grow weary of right-wing media's crying foul and claiming equivalency between their constant barrage of scornful invective and the occasional poor imitation from the left.

There may have been further method in Mr. Limbaugh's madness. Almost lost in the hubbub was his reinforcement of the false claim that the taxpayers are subsidizing the health plan in question, which they distinctly are not. It's part of the disinformation drumbeat to miss-characterize the Affordable Care Act as socialized/ist medicine. And in this case his sort-of apology was way too little, came way too late, sounded completely disingenuous, and omitted the taxpayers.

It was also interesting to note the muted reactions of the GOP presidential aspirants. Frontrunners Romney and Santorum limited their rebuke to "poor choice of words" and "entertainer's statements," respectively. It was clear that they wanted no part of crossing their kingmaker on the eve of Super Tuesday. A man's got to have his priorities, and these spoke volumes. Voters who happen to be women might take note.

Finally, I was impressed by the stance of (Jesuit) Georgetown University's President, John DeGioia. In an open letter to the school, he defended his student, as follows:

"She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression."

No apologies required.

Comments

Posted by Louise , a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 6, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Limbaugh's comments were completely out of line. I don't think a simple apology would have absolved him of responsibility, but his current line of defense, which is tantamount to "the librals are responsible for my disgusting comments" makes it even more reprehensible. I wonder if that man has damage to his frontal lobes that prevents him from engaging appropriate filters during conversation.


Posted by [removed], a resident of another community,
on Mar 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Dear Tom and Editor,

Revisit your position and consider the reality of this forum's need for an apology from EMCEB management, editors and political relationships. Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Maher have done little beyond the attack brutality of the town square forum.

Defamation sponsored is libel and not much different than Mr. Limbaugh's current dilemma.

More? halbailey@yahoo.com


Posted by underdog, a resident of another community,
on Mar 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm

There is difference between an insult or a slur and a verbal assault or attack. Neither is good, but there is a difference. Bill Maher's comment re: Sarah Palin was clearly the former, Rush Limbaugh's comments re: Sandra Fluke were both. Ms. Palin has assumed a political and public position and, unfortunately, like the President, members of Congress, politicians, other celebrities, insulting remarks come with the territory. Ms. Fluke's agenda was aimed not at acheiving a political career or celebrity status, merely a health issue for the public good. Disagreeing with the goal she pursued through legitimate discourse does not mean she is deserving of a personal denigration of her character. Rush Limbaugh's apology was not sincere. He did not simply use a "poor choice of words". That would imply that he should have said the same thing, conveyed the same idea with other words, when he should have refrained from this line of thought entirely. Everyone is aware that Rush is inflamatory and a master distortionist. The idea behind free speech is for the truth to be heard, not hate, not propaganda, not harmful opinion, libel or slander. Rush hides behind free speech right wing rhetoric to make his millions by tapping into misplaced anger, hate, and fear. Historically his propagandist techniques have often been employed by despotic regimes, but eventually they fail. His personal failures-in marriage, poor education, reliance on drugs, seem to suggest that even he can't live with his own demons. In this case, Rush has clearly exposed his hypocrisy and his true nature and his sponsors, women, voters, and good people around the country in both parties will use free speech and freedom to choose not to choose Rush. Free speech is alive and well, but those who abuse it must live with the consequences of their actions.


Posted by Dirk, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 6, 2012 at 11:36 pm

Rush Limbaugh is just one man, and by himself is of no significance. There are countless such hateful people in the world and in this country. The problem is that he is so popular among conservatives that he has been given a prominent forum to spread his filth to the delight of his many fans. That is the truly depressing thing about this story.


Posted by Kathy, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

The whole thing with Ms. Fluck was a set up and the Republicans fell for it hook, line and sinker. Ms. Fluck is not an innocent little college student, she is a women's actives and this fake hearing was put on by Pelosi. All this so they could distract the public on the real problem's facing this country.
Why is it okay to say horrible things about Conservative women and their families, but a liberal and everyone get's in a big up roar. Before someone calls me a right winger let it be known that I'm a Democrat, though not a happy one because of crap like this.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm

In light of the facts that 1 -- you cite no sources, much less any credible ones, and 2 -- the Dems aren't capable of staging Shakespeare, much less political theatre that entraps Republicans, I have to say that I doubt the likelihood of your scenario. I do believe the witness was/is a capable young woman who partook of the process, and did not deserve to have her moral character impugned as a result.

And I have to qualify all this by saying that I'm here in Arizona, watching the A's play Spring Training (4-0 since we got here!), and all is temporarily right with the world....


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

The best way to handle a blowhard like Limbaugh is ignore him. He has 15 million weekly listeners, or about 0.05% of the population. Practically no one listens to him anyway.

People like Tom Cushing keep this story alive in part because an extremist like Limbaugh makes Republicans look out of touch. It a distraction. He hopes people will focus on a silly story like this rather than substantive issues.

The big story this week should be that the CBO now estimates the 10 year cost of Obamacare is $1.76 trillion, not the $900 billion Obama promised when he rammed it down our throats. We'll now have to raise an extra $860 billion in the next 10 years through increased taxes and cuts to things like Social Security and Medicare.

Tom's hoping people won't focus Obama's flaws. Here's hoping voters are a little brighter than that.


Posted by Kathy, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

Tom there is all kinds of info on this women and her supporters if you would look a little further then MSM which are always on the Obama band wagon. As a Democrat I listen to Rush all the time, you should also he is a lot more on the ball them most people think.


Posted by Christine, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Mar 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Perhaps the very sexually active Fluke can service staff at Georgetown and get a tuition reduction----so others won't have to subsidize her immoral lifestyle.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

@spcwt: I am either honored that you found this week-old article so urgent and important that you just had to respond, even at 3 AM (!), or pleased that if you tried to use it as an insomnia cure, it appears that didn't work.

But I also hafta ask two things: 1 -- how do you know so much about the inner workings of my noggin? I mean, after all, my daily briefings from Comrade Barry O. are supposed to be confidential!

and 2 -- who, exactly, is keeping this story alive: me, for writing it a week ago, or you for responding an entire week later? Frankly, I'm sick of it, especially when I read the putrid tripe that others are willing to put out there, under cloak of anonymity: like "Christine," above, for instance.

@ Christine, all I can respond is what Mr. Welch inquired of Senator McCarthy in another witch-hunting context: "Have you No decency, madam?"


Posted by RJW, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 15, 2012 at 7:51 am



Mr.Cushing is consistently out debated by SPCWT. SPCWT provides accurate, factual, objective stats that back up his analysis, while Mr. Cushing tries(but fails miserably) to provide humor, every time he realizes he can not back up his subjective, misguided opinions.

Danville Express should be paying SPCWT to write weekly blogs, not Mr.Cushing, as most educated readers in Danville area appreciate the factual stats provided by SPCWT.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

RJR, thanks for the support!

Tom, I don't usually post at 3am, but have been in Asia all this week so it was late afternoon for me.

And sorry I was a little late reading your love note to Pres. Obama this time. You no doubt have moved on to more weightier topics such as our President's love of puppies and other cute animals, as that might be very useful information for those considering whether or not to vote for him.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Tom Cushing is a registered user.

I'm glad you two have found each other, and even more pleased that I was able to bring you together whilst getting rich on this blog.

But sp, suffice it to say that I'm happy to kick around the political merits with you, but if your comment above was intended in any way to disparage my commitment to animal welfare and advocacy -- well, then son, in the immortal words of Merle Haggard, "you'd be walkin' on the fightin' side of me."


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