A new beginning
In defense of politicians and other public figures, they are not without consciences. As we all do, they regret the bad things they've done. But the rest of us must deal with the wife, or the kids, or your mother in law. All of them have that special inborn genetic technology. That can detect your screw-ups whenever and wherever they are committed. Sometimes, they even know before you do something wrong that you're going to. There's no escaping. The bigwigs believe that because they do business on the grand scale, as they do, maybe they can slip by without getting caught.
That's why they smile at odd moments. For instance, a typical politician smiles when a camera is pointed at him. Now, if he happens to be on the steps of the federal courthouse moments after being indicted for tax evasion or election fraud, of course he wishes he'd flossed that morning or that he'd taken his press secretary's advice about having his teeth bleached, or worn the red tie rather than the blue, but he smiles broadly nevertheless, as he says to the cameras and the microphones, it's all a mistake, I'll be cleared in the end.
Nothing embarrasses them.
Senators and Congressmen and Presidents smile because they hope the dazzle will blind us to their unfinished or mangled business. But believe me, they and all the lesser public figures we endure know they've done wrong, and if they can't hide their sins, well then they want forgiveness. As I do each year, I offer forgiveness to the miscreants who rule us. I am prepared to hear their sins and absolve them. Sometimes, I ask them to do a little penance.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, these are newspaper absolutions, not presidential pardons or divine indulgences. There are several important differences. First, and most regrettably, no money changes hands. Not one of the recipients of this newspaper's editorial clemency will be obliged to kick in so much as a thin, persuasive dime to lubricate the process. Which makes these dispensations cheap, I suppose, though hardly honorable?
Second - and this is not necessarily something we are proud of either - the recipients of clemency will be chosen mostly by whimsy. The behavior of public figures needs a lot of forgiveness, of course, but we have to pick and choose.
Third, clemency is based upon what I hear when the candidates make their confessions to me in private. (There's a little room behind the office here where they come. There's a screen between the sinner and me. I can't see them, but I can hear what they say, and generally I know who they are.).
Fourth, when they say they're sorry, I don't always believe them, but I figure feigned regret is better than smiling denial, so all are welcome.
But, to the many public servants and just plain folks who make their confessions but are not absolved, I say, be of good cheer. You will have more to regret in the year ahead, and we can visit then.
Come Winn Davis, confess your sins. Start with the business of the bollixed fuel oil bids. Then, let all the rest out. And Eric Turkington, my confessional awaits. The $40,000 for Tisbury cannot be forgotten, but it may be forgiven. Rob O'Leary, you are welcome too, you may follow Mr. Turkington, as you so often have. You Martha's Vineyard Commissioners, you Airport Commissioners, you selectmen and assessors, you school and FinCom members, you know what you've done it. Absolution may be yours.
I have taken my place in the confessional. I await you. Oh, by the way: if it helps, an embossed certificate, suitable for framing, will be sent to each confessor.