I spent today grading and commenting on student papers, so I am almost out of words. However, I did want to comment on the fact that Obama admitted that he made a mistake in the process of picking Daschle. Daschle had been nominated for health and human services secretary, but decided to withdraw when it was revealed that he had a problem regarding unpaid taxes.
While I do fault Obama for making such an error (although I can imagine how hard it is to find an untainted politician), I was impressed by his decision to take responsibility for his mistake and to take steps to rectify matters. Though some might suspect that Obama is admitting error as a clever political ploy, it is certainly a different approach. In the recent past, the usual line from politicians is to say something such as “mistakes were made”-as if the mistakes just happened and there was no actual person who was accountable. For Obama to take responsibility does seem to indicate a different approach and one that I hope will serve him well. While there is a risk in admitting error, there seems to be a greater risk in not doing so.
In an interesting coincidence, I happened to be teaching virtue theory in my ethics class last night and we discussed a rather interesting line from Confucius: “In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.”
Confucius also supported the notion that the ruler should govern by moral force rather than by using violence and fear. Obama seems to be off to a good start in becoming a virtuous leader. That, too, would be a pleasant change. Of course, I am a skeptic and will wait to see how things work out.