This week, Idaho Senator Larry Craig made a public apology. The text of that apology is reprinted below. Just like I did with Michael Vick’s apology, I have some observations about Larry Craig’s apology from a pastor’s perspective.
Once again, the first line is not really an apology, it is a request for permission to apologize. His apology is for the decision to plead guilty, (he maintains his innocence in the airport restroom). But for that apology, he elaborates the reasons for the poor judgment. First, he wanted the charges to “go away”. That counts for taking personal responsibility for wanting to hide the embarrassing incident from his family and constituents. Second, he and his family had been harassed by a newspaper, contributing to (or causing?) his overreaction. (He points out that this harassment continues, almost as proof of his claim.) Then, later in the statement, he accepts full responsibility for his mistake in judgment for handling this himself. The reality is that by laying some blame on the newspaper, he is not accepting full responsibility for his mistake in judgment. At best, it is only partial responsibility because he is a victim. He is at least smart enough in this “apology” to not directly call into question the actual arrest (although many of the news reports I’m seeing are focusing on the behavior described by the arresting officer).
He asks for forgiveness for bringing a cloud over Idaho for his actions (which we assume was pleading guilty, based on the apology).
The grade for this apology? D. We are left to conclude that none of this was his fault, except trying to protect his family from shame.
The text of Larry Craig’s apology.
“First, please let me apologize to my family, friends, staff, and fellow Idahoans for the cloud placed over Idaho. I did nothing wrong at the Minneapolis airport. I regret my decision to plead guilty and the sadness that decision has brought to my wife, family, friends, staff, and fellow Idahoans. For that I apologize.
“In June, I overreacted and made a poor decision. While I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct at the Minneapolis airport or anywhere else, I chose to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of making it go away. I did not seek any counsel, either from an attorney, staff, friends, or family. That was a mistake, and I deeply regret it. Because of that, I have now retained counsel and I am asking my counsel to review this matter and to advise me on how to proceed.
“For a moment, I want to put my state of mind into context on June 11. For 8 months leading up to June, my family and I had been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman. If you’ve seen today’s paper, you know why. Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been.
“Still, without a shred of truth or evidence to the contrary, the Statesman has engaged in this witch hunt. In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman’s investigation and the rumors it has fueled around Idaho. Again, that overreaction was a mistake, and I apologize for my misjudgment. Furthermore, I should not have kept this arrest to myself, and should have told my family and friends about it. I wasn’t eager to share this failure, but I should have done so anyway.
“I love my wife, family, friends, staff, and Idaho. I love serving Idaho in Congress. Over the years, I have accomplished a lot for Idaho, and I hope Idahoans will allow me to continue to do that. There are still goals I would like to accomplish, and I believe I can still be an effective leader for Idaho. Next month, I will announce, as planned, whether or not I will seek reelection.
“As an elected official, I fully realize that my life is open for public criticism and scrutiny, and I take full responsibility for the mistake in judgment I made in attempting to handle this matter myself.
“It is clear, though, that through my actions I have brought a cloud over Idaho. For that, I ask the people of Idaho for their forgiveness.
“As I mentioned earlier, I have now retained counsel to examine this matter and I will make no further comment.”