Monday, March 26, 2012

Every Public Figure's Dilemma

With a whopping one week under my belt now about life as a quasi-public figure, at least in a hyper-local sense, here's one thing I've found: You have to walk a fine line about what you do, or don't respond to.

If you follow the Stephanopoulos/Carville line of thinking from 1992, encapsulated by the chapter in Hardball titled "Leave No Shot Unanswered," you respond to everything. By doing so, you're *in the ring* but you also open yourself up to charges of being thin-skinned, irritable, soft, petty, etc.

If you ignore whatever *it* is, you stay out of the fray, and avoid the risk of dragging *it* out even further, but you also must accept the fact that "history's first draft" got it wrong, and your non-response will be seen by some as tacit acknowledgement.

This all popped up for me based on something printed in the Lowell Sun's The Column.

There was a quote printed there, purportedly from me, that was not a misquote, or a quote taken out of context, or a misunderstanding, or an I-thought-it-was-off-the-record, or whatever other such thing that public figures often say when quotes show up that put them in an unflattering light.

It was fiction. I had one 30-second phone call with a single staffer from a single office (you can guess it if you like one-in-four odds). That person said "This person cannot do such-and-such" and I replied, "Okay, I understand...thanks." Bear in mind, this happened on my first day on the job. During the first morning.

I didn't have to pick this battle, or write this post -- I saw online that Cliff Krieger and Kad Barma did the fighting for me. I also saw that Jack Mitchell took the time to point out that Tom Golden and I were laughing about it yesterday afternoon at Dom Polski.

The reason I'm not more upset, though, is that the supposed "quote" didn't go after something truly personal like character or integrity. Instead, it made me sound either like a bumbling Jarhead or the next coming of H.R. Haldeman.

If you want a real scandal, I'll throw all the clues on the table: I went to the ONLY River Hawks game that I saw the entire season and walked away with the full enchilada for the next season -- season tix to the Pavilion, a VIP suite for a game, and some badass gear. I was then offered a job that presented a perfect opportunity for myriad reasons, even though I didn't even know it existed until the offer came -- expecting only pad thai on the way in. Then I went to the Water Festival fundraiser, bought a raffle ticket, and took the Khmer tapestry. The next day, stopping in at CNAG only expecting to stay long enough to say hi to Jack, Bob, and Ann Marie (no relation), came away a couple hours later with three straight raffle prizes worth a few hundy.

If it sounds like I'm counting the cards, or weighting the dice, or paying the White Sox not to win the Series, those would all be more plausible than the idea that I'm going to screw up the chain of command and forget protocol and process along the way.

And besides, that might make for a more fun story.

1 comment:

C R Krieger said...

I was wondering who was sucking up all the good luck in Lowell.

Regards  —  Cliff