Monday, December 05, 2005

Bill Richardson - Yep, He's a Clintonite

I'm not sure exactly when this story broke but I am just learning about it today. It seems that the former New Mexico governor and UN Ambassador under Bill Clinton has been claiming for the last 20-odd years that he was drafted to play baseball by the then Kansas City Athletics in 1966.

A story from thanksgiving Day's Albuquerque Journal reports that, in fact, Richardson was not drafted by the A's.

Now, I am not going to waste a lot of words on why people embellish or flat-out lie on their resumes. What I am more interested in is how public figures, politicians especially, attempt to explain their actions when they are caught.

In this case, Richardson's admission is the usual incredible - as in hard to believe (mainly because it's not true) - mea culpa. Not only is it hard to believe; we all know that it is disingenuous and insincere. A six year-old could listen to it and tell you it's a lie. Here's what Richardson had to say:

"After being notified of the situation and after researching the matter ... I came to the conclusion that I was not drafted by the A's," he said.

He had to research the matter to come to the conclusion that it wasn't true? Now, I willingly admit that I wasn't drafted by the A's - or anybody else for that matter - but I would have to believe that if I had been (in my late teens or early twenties), I have to believe that that would stand out a little. I have to believe this would stand out among the events of my life. I have to believe that it wouldn't require any "research" on my part to remember.

So, why do public figures go through the motions of pretending that they didn't know they were lying?

I can only believe it is because they think we, the public, are stupid and complacent.

They know that most of us have short memories and that we have more important things to do than wonder which politician is honest and which one is not. They count on it. So they go through the motions of pretending that the indiscretion in question was an honest mistake.

See, they also count on one other thing, and that's the weariness of the public. We have been so conditioned to believe that politicians are dishonest, that it doesn't surprise us when we are confronted with evidence of it. We shrug our shoulders and repeat the mantra, "They all do it."

Bill Clinton didn't invent this kind of behavior; he perfected it. Again and again he was caught out in scandal after scandal after scandal. And again and again he pretended to be contrite. He pretended these were honest mistakes. And we continued shrugging our shoulders. (Well, I didn't, but a lot of you did.)

So the next time a politician gets caught out on some howler, just remember we have only ourselves to blame. It's our complacency that lets them off the hook.

We should demand better. Unless, that is, you don't think we deserve it.

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