If Sam and I didn’t already know that from personal experience, we would certainly pick up on the vagaries of responsibility from the Republican Presidential Debates. Newt refuses to fess up to things he’s said in the past, Romney refuses to come right out and say, yeah he supported health-care legislation in his home state. And the other candidates: Santorum, Paul, Perry, Bachman and Cain (anybody else?) have all failed at one point or another to take responsibility for something he or she said or did. Why would we want a President who wouldn’t accept responsibility for his or her words or actions? That’s not leadership.
It’s kind of hard to refuse to take responsibility for things you’ve said or done that have made their way into publication, on the public record or on video tape. You can try denying something if you’re sure there’s no hard evidence against you. An eye-witness account of something you’ve done could land you in hot water, but eye witnesses are notoriously wrong so you could possibly cast enough doubt on the eye witness’s veracity to slither out of that kind of accusation.
But Sam and I would like to coin a new saying: You can deny some of the things you’ve done some of the time and you can deny many of the things you done most of the time, but you can’t deny everything all the time. Where there’s smoke your butt’s going to get burned.
Denying responsibility for what you’ve said or done is kind of like the advice that was given in a Walter Matthau movie once. Matthau’s co-worker advised Matthau to “deny, deny, deny,” if Matthau’s wife ever accused him of infidelity. Of course, if your wife has hard evidence, like an 8mm movie of a hotel tryst, filmed by a hired private detective, and it’s currently playing on You Tube, your goose is cooked ( I do not speak from experience, however).
I can understand not wanting to accept responsibility. I don’t want to accept much of it any more either. That’s why I don’t run for political office, especially for President of the United States. I’m the oldest of seven kids. I’ve been unduly burdened with responsibility since the day I was born.
When I grew up I got married, became a dad, bought a house and took on car payments and all that other detritus that went along with being a responsible citizen of America. Soon, I was volunteering to sit on non-profit boards, accepting management positions at work, applying for ever more credit - next thing I knew I was listening wistfully to Jimmy Buffet and wondering if Margarita Ville really existed.
I try now to be responsible only for myself and Sam, and Kathleen if she wants me to be (she’s pretty independent), and that’s enough. I get myself up in the morning, shave if I really have to, drink coffee until I’ve had to go pee three or four times, take Sam for walk and write this blog or work on one of my books in progress. Today, if someone accuses me of saying or doing something I probably shouldn’t have, I just say, “Yeah, you’re right,” and walk away from it. I am what I am and I did what I did. End of sentence, as a friend of mine used to say.
Two bags of poop on responsibility, especially if you have to lie or exercise selective memory to become President. Those GOP guys won’t beat Obama anyway.