Friday, July 25, 2003

Working together for the common good

Shields and Brooks on The NewsHour tonight discussed some interesting issues. I was particularly intrigued by the story—and excerpt of—Rep. Bill Thomas's apology for calling the capitol police on his fellow committee members (scroll down the transcript to "Partisan bickering in Congress" and "A tearful apology from Rep. Bill Thomas").
I learned a very painful lesson on Friday. Because of my poor judgment, I became the focus of examination rather than the issues.

The visions that each of us have for a better America, different as though they may be but equally entitled to be heard, weren't focused on.

It has been said that our strengths are our weaknesses. Or as my mother would have put it, "When they were passing out moderation, you were hiding behind the door.''

I believe my intensity has served useful purposes, fixing problems and passing laws that otherwise may not have made it. But when you're charged and entrusted with responsibilities by you, my colleagues, as I have been, you deserve better. Moderation is required.

For the remainder of my time in this, the people's House, I want to rededicate my efforts to strengthening this institution as the embodiment of what is best about us. I need your help and I invite it. I yield back the balance of my time.
What doesn't come through on the transcript is that he was trying very hard not to cry as he gave his apology. Having witnessed a similar blow-up (in very different circumstances) recently, it struck me how important it is for the offending party to 1) recognize how out of line such behavior is and how destructive of any attempt at community or working together and 2) sincerely and non-defensively apologize so that people can get on with the task at hand.

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