Friday, August 15, 2008

Mistakes Matter

"He's a good boy. He just made a hell of a mistake."

Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a John Edwards adviser, quoted in Pete Yost and David Scott's, "Edwards' ally explains $14,000 payout to mistress"

Well, yeah, but what about the broader consequences. Even bad good boys have learned about what happens when you throw a rock in a pond. I'm thinking of Edwards' leadership on poverty issues in America. His work over the last several years and during the presidential campaigns was instrumental in jumpstarting a national conversation about poverty, its prevalence, and how we lower poverty rates. See: Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Edwards recently signed on as a spokesperson for the Half in Ten Coalition that wants to cut poverty in half in ten years.

And then there's ACORN, a key partner in the Half in Ten Coalition and a potent advocate on behalf of low-income families, stumbling after the revelation of a top-level cover up by Wade Rathke (ACORN's founder)that his brother had had his hand in the till. Only eight years ago. See my blog posting: The Fall.

Boys will be boys, even good boys. Nobody's perfect; we all make mistakes. The bigger mistake is always in the cover-up. We know this. We've seen this, over and over -- much bigger mistakes than those of Edwards and ACORN. My sense is that this propensity for cover up comes from a fatal mix of the belief in our own indispensible importance and that we can get away with it. And then there are the consequences.

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