Monday, May 08, 2006

How Can We Miss You If You Won't go Away?

Wendi Thomas is back and by her own admission, it seems the bland will be getting blander:
In past columns, I've been hard on these people. Hard on a mayor who fathered a child out of wedlock. Hard on a state rep who took money from a businessman at casinos. Hard on city council members who took favors from developers.

Now, I've got a new sympathy for these folk ....
Oh, thrill. A public watchdog who sympathises with those she's on guard against.
And I'd be doing what young professional women are told is their duty to do: keep climbing the ladder.
It would seem her feminist indoctrination didn't take. Time for re-education!
Often, when otherwise rational people make a mistake, the time to undo it has long since passed. The child, who himself isn't a mistake, is already born.
Love the child; shame the parents.
The ill-gotten gambling money has already been frittered away.
It's called restitution.
The conflicts of interests have been cemented since the basketball and airline tickets from a developer have long since been accepted by elected officials.
Ethics laws and prosecution. Remind the voters who did wrong come election time. Hammer the point.
But I had a chance to undo my error, before The Commercial Appeal hired someone else to write in the space I considered mine.
Which I guess is why she's back on the section front page after the demotion to the inside. Nice to make a mistake and then be rewarded for making it, eh? Why, with her return it's almost as if nothing happened at all! How magical. How special.
But the chances are good that I'll continue to rail against ...
"Chances" are "good?" Oh, well, that's certainly reassuring. Glad to hear it might happen.

But I guess what irks me most is how she pretends something but somehow manages now to actually say it:
... mistakes they made ... it was a mistake ... I did exactly what my instincts told me not to do ... I choose to refer to as the "recent unpleasantness" ... when otherwise rational people make a mistake ... my error ... this humbling experience ...
Two thing missing in all that. Can you spot them?

First, nowhere in all that does she simply say, "I was wrong." She dances real close, but never quite takes ownership. It's in there, it's pretty clear, but it's not actually said. There's a big difference between "Mistakes were made." and "I did wrong."

Also missing is any sense of the hardship she inflicted on the Baltimore Sun. She can't even bring herself to name them! No sense of the heaviness of the fallout of her actions on her shoulders. No compassion for all those she's inconvenienced both here and in Baltimore. No ownership of all the negative consequences her actions have brought on countless others. All she can do is thank the "... readers who have welcomed me back."

No "I'm sorry." No "I'm grateful."

Because it's all about her. She's too happy having everything back to the way it was. That's just selfish. She's refusing to swallow the bitter pill she fashioned and, instead, is setting it aside and trying to get everyone to forget she's supposed to swallow it.

Since Chris Peck came on board a lot of people have left the paper. Some were nudged; others pushed. Some were slanted sidewise, hoping they'd get the idea. How many have come back?

How many have made their failure of spirit a banner of wisdom?

Shame on Wendi. Shame on the Commercial Appeal.

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