The big story here in Florida is that gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink looked at a text message from a staffer during a break in CNN debate. This violated the rules of the debate because both candidates had agreed not to use notes. Rick Scott and the media have made this THE issue in these last days leading up to the election. This has eclipsed life changing topics like how will a new Governor create jobs after the space program is discontinued? What is going to happen to Florida’s public schools? How will the state of Florida make the most of health care reform and stimulus dollars? Instead, we are talking about a freaking text message. Grrrrr…
If we have learned anything from the scandals in recent years – it is that if you tell the truth, acknowledge your mistake, and apologize - the media quickly loses interest. In the baseball steroid scandal, Andy Pettite admitted it and he is still pitching today while the media is still searching for a “gotcha” angle on Rogers Clemens. As far as sex scandals, David Letterman suffered a week of public skewering while Tiger Woods endured months and months. Reggie Bush returned the Heisman when there was a hint of scandal and most people didn’t even hear about it.
So why is it so hard to tell the truth?
If Sink had just said, “I made a mistake. I knew my staff understood the rules of the debate so when the makeup artist approached me with a message from my staff – I immediately got concerned it was something related to my daughter. I looked at the message. After seeing it was a campaign related message, I should have immediately shown it to the CNN moderator and apologized. I fired the staffer who did it. Now, can we get back to important issues related to the future of Florida?” But instead, she is passing the blame.
I think people understand that mistakes happen, but the true test of someone is how they respond. Seventeen years ago, the Texas Ranger manager admitted to using cocaine and violating the MLB drug policy. Because he came clean and got clean, the team kept him and now he is in the World Series.
The whole point of having an election is to determine which candidates will best represent the interests of the American people – not to see which candidates can out sound-byte or out manipulate the American people better.
It’s time to tell the truth and let the cards fall where they may.