One measure of decency I most admire is a person's willingness to apologize. Not with excuses or finger-pointing, but with a sincere desire to seek forgiveness. I apologize often for my transgressions and resolve to do better. That resolve doesn't always pan out, but I know I'll have more chances to improve. Rinse and repeat.
People who don't apologize typically defend themselves by saying, "I have nothing to apologize for." I suppose they could be right, but patterns of human behavior over the millennia would suggest that's not true. We all screw up, some more than others, none of us is perfect. And when we do, apologies are in order.
Which brings me to the strange case of North Carolina's junior US Senator, Thom Tillis.
By any objective measure, Thom Tillis has screwed up. Our country is in the midst of a catastrophic public health crisis, one which the President's party could have and should have handled in a vastly different manner. And yet, like the President himself, Tillis literally takes no responsibility for the disaster. Even worse, he defends the President's abject failure, arguing that no one could have known the potential risks. His telephone "town halls" are filled with happy talk that denies the reality we see around us, echoing the blather that Trump vomits up every day. And his willingness to lie to voters seems unbounded.
Thom Tillis owes North Carolina and America a sincere and immediate apology. But since we know his arrogance would never allow that to happen, I'm going to sketch it out for him.
- I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention three years ago when my party decimated the Centers for Disease Control and abandoned pandemic planning.
- I'm sorry I didn't insist that the President listen to experts about the risks we were facing.
- I'm sorry I helped cover for the President's incompetence back in December when we might have stopped this thing.
- I'm sorry I helped cover for the President when he misled the American people in February about the dangers we were facing.
- I'm sorry I haven't called on this administration to do better.
- I'm sorry I didn't vote to impeach Donald Fucking Trump when I had the chance.
- I'm sorry I've been silent day-in and day-out while Trump goes on television and lies to the American people.
- I'm sorry I didn't call bullshit on Trump's nonsense about the pandemic being over by Easter.
- I'm sorry I allow Trump to denigrate elected officials and leaders who don't agree with him politically.
- Please forgive me. I can't go back and fix all the things I've screwed up, but I promise I will do better. I will no longer be a rubber stamp for Trump.
I'll be 70 this year. I spend a significant amount of time contemplating death and dying. I often wonder what it will feel like to be on my deathbed, coming face to face with the many transgressions of my lifetime. I also wonder about the people around me and how they'll face death when the time comes. I almost feel sorry for Thom Tillis.
For what it's worth, I could have written most of this about Richard Burr, who in many ways is worse than Tillis when it comes to integrity and honor. For Burr, I'd have to add:
- I'm sorry I've behaved like a greedy son of a bitch.
- I'm sorry I lied to the American people about the pandemic.
- I'm sorry I personally profited from my insider information.
- I apologize for being such a sorry sack of crap.
Bruce Lee's quote seems a good way to wrap this up. "Mistakes are always forgivable if one has the courage to admit them." Unfortunately, Tillis has nowhere near the courage to admit his mistakes. Which means they are unforgivable.
PS I apologize for not working hard enough to stop the spread of evil in our country.