I’m not wrong, I simply misspoke
“Oops, my bad,” I told my 19-year-old after discovering I had wrongly chastised her for something she hadn’t done.
Her furrowed brow, hands-on-her-hips and unblinking stare told me she expected more.
“I just misspoke,” I offered, ignoring her disgust.
“I’m not sorry, I just misspoke.” It appears to be the new mantra in Congress.
Mea culpa’s used to require a trace of sincerity – hopefully, genuine; but for today’s lawmakers, the rules are apparently different.
The sheer hubris of late out of Washington, D.C., is enough to make me question the voters who elevated them to their current status.
Such is the case with the latest offender: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who offered a lame comparison of hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
Reid was lambasted recently after declaring that Katrina was “nothing in comparison to what happened to the people in New York and New Jersey” after Sandy.
The comment came shortly after Senate and House Republicans initially postponed a vote to provide a $9.7 billion cash infusion to the nation’s flood insurance program, which would have benefitted storm victims in the Northeast. The measure was ultimately approved, but not before Reid injected himself into the fray, becoming Hurricane Sandy’s latest – although self-inflicted – victim.
With his feet firmly planted in the fire – or storm-ravaged aftermath, Reid did the only honorable thing. He threw the “I misspoke” flag.
“In my recent comments criticizing House Republicans for threatening to betray Congress’ tradition of providing aid to disaster victims in a timely fashion regardless of region, I simple misspoke,” the would-be apology issued by his office reads. “I am proud to have been an advocate for disaster victims in the face of Republican foot-dragging from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, from fires in the west to tornadoes in the Midwest.”
It’s not the first “misspoke” defense from a U.S. lawmaker and, sadly, not likely the last.
We all remember Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin’s stab at pregnancies resulting from rape.
“It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare,” he told St. Louis TV station DTVI in response to a reporters question asking if he would support abortions for women who have been raped.
Akin could have stopped there and America would have just dismissed him as another clueless politician. But the six-term congressman was on a roll.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
What? Americans asked, collectively.
The comments would lead to an emailed statement from the all-knowing Akin basically chalking his unthinkable view on misspeaking.
“In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year,” Akin’s statement read.
And Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffmann also veered off the beaten campaign trail last May, leading to another apology – er, rather misspoken moment.
Coffman, speaking before donors, launched into a rant about President Obama’s citizenship. “I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America,” he said. “I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”
“I misspoke and I apologize,” Coffmann’s post-event repair statement read.
Coffman won re-election to his House seat. Akin, fortunately, was not as fortunate.
Local congressional delegates have weighed in against Reid’s take on hurricanes. Across the Gulf Coast, we continue to see reminders of Katrina. There are scars, but there are also signs of healing. Healing that couldn’t have been possible without the huge cash infusion.
As Congressman Bill Cassidy said last week, “People in Louisiana have the deepest compassion for those impacted by Superstorm Sandy. … It begs the question, does Leader Reid value people more in one part of our country more than another?”
U.S. Sen. David Vitter stated it stronger, calling Reid an idiot. “Both Katrina and Sandy were horribly destructive storms that caused real human misery,” he said.
It’s not a question of which storm was worse. People in the Northeast are in dire need of help and it is going to take some serious bucks to rebuild. It’s time for lawmakers to roll up their sleeves, put the pettiness aside and solve the problems we elected them to address.
Over the years, our political leaders have been the source of many life lessons. First, we learned that defining “is” can change the entire outlook on a wrongdoing. Now, we’re learning that politics means never having to say you’re sorry. Oh, wait, I misspoke.