How To Admit You Were Wrong

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Bad Decisions, General Politics, Law, Smart Things Said By Smart People

As most of you may already know, California congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham messed up and took some bribes. It was a stupid thing to do, and as I was at work today I discussed with my coworkers why a guy like this would really need more money. I mean really, how much money do these guys really need? It simply don’t make sense.

However, his resignation letter seems genuinely heartfelt and quite earnest. Read it and tell me what you think (PDF).

I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I’ve compromised the trust of my constituents.

When I announced several months ago that I would not seek re-election, I publicly declared my innocence because I was not strong enough to face the truth. So, I misled my family, staff, friends, colleagues, the public — even myself. For all of this, I am deeply sorry.

The truth is — I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.

Some time ago, I asked my lawyers to inform the U.S. Attorney Carol Lam that I would like to plead guilty and begin serving a prison term. Today is the culmination of that process. I will continue to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation to the best of my ability.

In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame. I learned in Viet Nam that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. I cannot undo what I have done. But I can atone. I am now almost 65 years old and, as I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends.

The first step in that journey is to admit fault and apologize. The next step is to face the consequences of my actions like a man. Today, I have taken the first step and, with God’s grace, I will soon take the second.

Even though he screwed up, he has my respect after a letter like this. It doesn’t undo what he did, but it certainly creates an atmosphere where people can trust him again.

Well done Randy.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2005 and is filed under Bad Decisions, General Politics, Law, Smart Things Said By Smart People. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

8 Responses to “How To Admit You Were Wrong”

  1. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

    Thanks for a fine note — I fully agree with you.

  2. Justin Gardner Says:

    Thanks Tom.

    I know we don’t agree on much, but this admission was particularly compelling.

    Best.

  3. Don Surber Says:

    Bush the Reformer

    As the Duke Cunningham slowly fades into the West, we see once again federal prosecutors putting away another white collar criminal.
    Adelphia? John Rigas and other family members convicted and forced to forfeit 95% of their assets. Holy bagoley. That …

  4. Jim Says:

    A number of other public officials should copy this letter and be prepared to issue a similar statement. Once all the Abramoff chips are on the table, I think we’ll see more of this. Altho, I guarantee there will be some declaring their innocence even when faced with the facts. Hopefully 06 & 08 will clean a lot of folks out and bring in a new crop. And maybe that new crop will enforce and improve the Ethics in Washington. Thanks for posting this, we rarely see anyone acknowledge guilt, apologize, and get coverage for it. Its not nearly as exciting for the media.

  5. Lara Rawlings Says:

    He should have started the apology with something like, ” I am resigning because I’ve been busted and no matter how hard my lawyers have tried to get me off the hook it looks like I’m going down big. So, let me remind ya’ll that I’m an old dude (65) and that I served in Vietnam.” I would believe him if he admitted to his crimes out of a sense of sudden morality and decency, out of a sense of duty to his country, even though he could have continued his crimes without ever being detected. THEN I would be inclined to accept his apology. Maybe I’ve grown way too cynical, but I am SO over these kinds of people.

  6. Justin Gardner Says:

    Hey, what the guy did was really bad and very stupid. But this seems heartfelt.

    And hey, if it isn’t, my God have mercy…ya know? That can’t be a fun place to be in.

    Hate the sin, love the sinner…right?

  7. Lara Rawlings Says:

    Yeah…ok. Maybe you are right. But can you honestly blame me for feeling the way I do?

  8. Chris Says:

    I’ve posted the same thought in a couple of places. It’s clear the guy didn’t have a lot of choices, but the fact is we’ve seen a lot of public servants go down, and very few if any have offered such a sincere apology and admission of guilt.

    Maybe I’m a softy, but if we’re ever going to bring this country back together we’ve got to have a little compassion and sense of decency, rather than a blanket “you suck we’re great” attitude.

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