Thursday, February 26, 2009

Admit Your Fuck Ups, Please

We all make mistakes, even Presidents. The truth test of integrity isn't being flawless, but recognizing when you mess up and own up to it. A few weeks ago, when Tom Daschle's candidacy for a cabinet post imploded, Barack Obama admitted that "I think I screwed up." It was a refreshing change from the past eight years, during which Duhbya famously couldn't even conjure up a mistake made when asked.

Which is why the rather minor historical flub in Obama's speech the other night is kind of a downer. He was talking up the US auto industry:

In promising support in his speech to Congress Tuesday, he said, 'I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.'
One problem - we didn't invent the automobile, the Germans did. Specifically, Karl Benz in 1885 and Gottlieb Daimler in 1886. Americans didn't get in on the act until 1893, thanks to the Duryea brothers.

True, it's not the most well known historical fact, but it's not really in dispute. Unless you listen to the White House spin:
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, in an e-mail, cited the Duryeas as first, but added, 'There may be some question about who invented the car, but make no mistake, we still make the best cars right here in America.' She said the president was encouraging Americans 'to remember our rich history of ingenuity.'
But there isn't any question about it. We can't lay claim to that particular milestone, so why try? Why not congratulate the Germans and be done with it?

They always say it's not the crime that gets you, it's the cover up. Along the same lines, it's not the mistake that's most telling, but the reaction to it. The White House's attempt to create a historical controversy where there isn't one just to avoid admitting Obama messed up isn't a good sign.

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