Contrition

By

Leonard Zwellling

It appears that Mr. Bannon has it. But not fast enough. He’s out at Breitbart.

He apparently regrets some of the things he told Michael Wolff that were retold in the new book Fire and Fury in which Mr. Bannon is reported to have besmirched the president, his family and other close associates. Good for Mr. Bannon. I am sure his change of heart is good for his soul. If only more men could do that. Even unemployed ones.

My first thoughts after the “#dresses so black” display at the Golden Globes were would it only have been all those predators in Hollywood who had had a change of heart like Mr. Bannon. I am thinking of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis C. K. in particular. Of course, it would have taken all of the energy out of Seth Meyers’ monologue had those guys behaved better or had owned up to their abominable conduct, but I think everyone in the room in Beverly Hills and sitting watching at home would have been glad to be talking only about the Trump book and not the consequences of #MeToo and #Time’sUp.

And while we are seeking apologies, how about a little contrition from the last two presidents of MD Anderson. Anderson, I believe, is finally headed in the right direction after 15 years in the desert (at least it wasn’t 40!), but still, there are scores unsettled, careers upended, and people still suffering because of how the leaders of the greatest cancer hospital in the world behaved so badly. When do they apologize?

And what about President Obama?

He knew a great deal about some of the people around Mr. Trump’s campaign and surely knew about the actions of the Russians to affect the 2016 elections. Why didn’t he say something? Why didn’t he do something? Because he didn’t want to seem partisan to Hillary Clinton, his own Secretary of State? Give me a break.

I have been highly critical of President Obama for his internationalist views, his decisions on Syria and the rest of the Middle East, his inaction on Korea, the Iran deal, and most of all for the decision to ram health care reform through the Congress at a time of deep economic uncertainty. That last decision gave me a new career, but that doesn’t mean it was a great presidential option. I don’t think Obama was a great president as some argue. I think he has a fair amount to apologize for and so does his predecessor and the guy before Bush, too.

It would be helpful for these powerful men in politics and academia along with their colleagues in business and entertainment to reflect on their bad decisions and worse behavior and come clean. It would also be heuristic for the rest of us and for future generations of leaders.

An accounting through contrition can avoid repeated mistakes. Think Iraq after Vietnam. Think Moon Shots after Enron. Think The Wall. Think!

Leonard Zwelling