If a child is caught doing something naughty—like stealing cookies or shoving his sister—we would die laughing if he said, “I take complete responsibility for my actions.”
Yet that is exactly what Democrat Cal Cunningham, who is running against COVID-stricken Republican Senator Thom Tillis for a seat in the world’s greatest deliberative body, said when he was caught sexting a lady not his wife. He said:
“I have hurt my family, disappointed my friends, and am deeply sorry. The first step in repairing those relationships is taking complete responsibility, which I do. I ask that my family’s privacy be respected in this personal matter,” Cunningham said in a statement sent to The News & Observer.
I don’t know the extent to which a sexting scandal will or should factor into a political race. But I do know that “taking responsibility” is lame.
It reminds me of the time my octogenarian grandfather banged into the side of the house while trying to put his old Dodge into the garage. “Well, I guess it was my fault,” he said sheepishly. In other words, he “took complete responsibility.” The house was completely innocent.
Taking full responsibility when you’ve been caught doing something falls way short of an apology. What if Cunningham refused to take responsibility? What difference would it make?
One of my least favorite responses is the public figure who apologies IF what he or she has said or done bothers you—it’s often something grievous that you can bet your bottom dollar hurt the recipient plenty. It is hard to fess up, and I guess Cunningham’s assumption of responsibility is better than blaming others, which is often unconvincing into the bargain.
Cunningham is a married father of two. He was sexting Arlene Guzman Todd, a media consultant, also married, whom he called “historically sexy,” though aside from that the sexts are historically dull. But Cunningham does owe his family and his party, which had hoped he could flip a seat (perhaps he will), a sincere apology. Hot Air makes the point that this is an argument for voting on election day, when more information is available.