A Valuable Lesson

Learning from my mistakes, in more ways than one

I may be Catholic, and this may be a Lenten Friday, but today I needed to eat some crow.

I was wrong. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one, as I received several e-mails stating that Fox News Channel and other news outlets reported last night that some Senate Republicans did, in fact, vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s bloated federal budget. In reality, however, all GOP senators voted against the budget and were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Evan Bayh. All should be commended for doing the right thing.

My journey toward destroying whatever credibility I’ve developed and maintained started at the OpenCongress.org roll call site, one of my personal favorites when it comes down to votes and trends and congressional issues. Obviously, whatever route I took on that excellent Web site was the wrong one; furthermore, all efforts today to recreate what I did early this morning were in vain.

Nevertheless, I think there’s a lesson to be learned in all of this, even beyond the embarrassing lesson I personally learned today. When I saw the list of 17 Republican senators, the very first names I set eyes upon were those of Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter and Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, the same three Republicans who abandoned fiscal responsibility and recently broke rank to facilitate the passage of Barack Obama’s gargantuan “stimulus” plan. Seeing those names, unfortunately, was enough to make me believe the list was accurate.

The list also contained, however, a few solid conservatives such as Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Johanns and more. When I saw those names, I found myself disappointed but not surprised — and I think that lack of surprise says something.

Why should we be surprised at anything our elected officials do? After all, spendthrift Republicans are also responsible for the dramatic growth in deficit and government alike we’ve seen over the past two years. And, as much as I contend that Republicans murdered our economy but Democrats have gone on a killing spree, it’s obvious that even now we have not learned from our previous mistakes. If we had, what in the world were 84 Republicans, along with conservative Rep. Eric Cantor, thinking when they voted for the confiscatory tax hike on executive bonuses?

My mistake was my mistake. I admit it. I’m embarrassed by it. However, the more and more I think about it, my mistake today was also an indictment of just how much work is left for the GOP before it restores the trust of right-thinking American people.

Think about it. I know most of these people, perhaps not personally but certainly from their voting trends, their public addresses, their responses to detrimental actions taken by Democrats. I know what to expect from Sens. Lindsey Graham, Sam Brownback and others. Yet, confronted with a list that, in all good faith, I believed to be connected with the budget vote, I felt confident enough that these people had for some reason abrogated their duty to represent their constituents and voted in favor of the budget. My mistake was an indictment of my failure to double-check information — but what does that honest, good faith error say about how well our elected officials stick with principle?

The “nothing surprises me anymore” attitude held by myself and others, I think, is indicative of how so many on Capitol Hill lack the testicular fortitude to stick with principles. Some do, of course — after all, I know where Chuck Schumer is going to stand on pretty much any given issue. Same with Jim DeMint. I know where Nancy Pelosi is going to come down, much in the same way I know how John Shadegg will vote.

In fact, I don’t care what side you’re on — I want principles. I don’t want the Arlen Specter approach, waiting until you’re lobbied heavily one way or another to make a decision. Especially on the bigger issues. I don’t want suspense. Yes, I may like how he came down against the Employee Free Choice Act, but I don’t care for the musical chairs fashion in which he made his decision. I don’t want to wait for the lobbying to stop before knowing which chair my elected representative sits down on.

The concept of “no surprises” is an essential part of a representative republic, at least with regard to the bigger issues. I vote Republican [now] because I understand the value of a smaller government, because I feel as though I can spend my money better than the government can, because I don’t want to worry about a Jihadist blowing up my local Starbucks, because I want qualified judges on the bench who base their decisions on the United States Constitution.

Outright lying is the worst. I think that’s why I’m disappointed in Bush, but not in Obama. I may be appalled by Obama’s agenda and performance, but I never believed his promises for transparency and fiscal responsibility and middle class tax cuts in the first place. With regard to former President George W. Bush, this compassionate conservative, I was disappointed to see the total lack of commitment to border security and the complete and utter abandonment of free market principles in the face of economic hardship.

Yes, I made a mistake today. I’ve called the offices of each of the 17 senators and apologized as personally I could to staff, to press secretaries, to anybody who would listen. I feel awful about screwing up in such an obvious manner, and I truly am sorry for any trouble I’ve caused for them or for anybody else.

Obviously, I should have double-checked when I saw a list of 17 Republicans who voted in favor of President Obama’s budget. That I didn’t, however, says something. We elect our congressmen and senators for a reason, and should be so confident in their principles and values that we should generally know ahead of time how they’ll come down on the bigger issues. A single, solitary Republican on the “yea” list with regard to this issue should have set off any number of red flags — that 17 Republicans caused no such red flag is a problem.

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Comments

  1. Gail B says:

    Jeff, stop whipping yourself.

    The only perfect person died 2,000 years ago. That should take some of the weight off your shoulders.

  2. Anonymous says:

    O.K., Jeff, we’ll forgive you but there MUST be restitution. In your case, I think that a blanket dispensation of forgiveness for all of the mispeled werds, pour gramer, and incorreck sintax that appear in our commnentary wood be a gud start.

    Better yet, how about, as you review our comments for acceptable content, you correct all of our mistakes so it looks, to the casual viewer, that you have some really bright participants? I’d like that.

    Would this work for you and give you absolution for the sin of being human?

    All in favor say “aye”.

    Old Bob

  3. Michelle in Texas says:

    Pobody’s Nerfect, Jeff! Thanks for issuing a quick correction and writing letters of apology.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, but you don`t get it. There is no GOP there is no Democrats. There is a global elite who is currently destroying any and all nations including the US in order to install their New World Order. Congress and Senate are corrupted by them functioning only as a cover. Therefore you all have to wake up, get together and fight as peacefully as you can against this, otherwise it will be too late. Open your mind and start listening to people who have already unveiled this like Mr. Jones or others… Let`s hope we are not too late.

  5. goddessdivine says:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes. You obviously aren’t the only one who received bad information. And at least you are doing everything you can to make amends. (Most people would just shrug it off.) This shows your commitment to integrity, which really, I don’t think any of us ever doubted.

  6. toto says:

    Jeff, I we didn’t make mistakes we wouldn’t learn. You, at least, stood up and admitted your mistake, and you deserve some kudos for that. At the time, you only went with what information was out there, and on a brighter, you at least checked yourself. Hey man, it isn’t your fist mistake in life, and it won’t be your last, don’t worry we still love what you do.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Enough already, Jeff.

    Apology accepted.

    The fact that you produce this incredible, timely, inspiring, thought-provoking website–while actually having a life–allows for a humanly mistake now and then.

    This website is a treasure. Thank you for your outstanding contributions.

    jeano

  8. Gail B says:

    Jeff, did it ever occur to you that you could be exhausted from everything you have on your plate? No one’s upset with you. Stuff happens! Get a hug from your little girl. Take a well-deserved nap. But most important, forgive yourself. America will not crumble while you sleep.

    (Obviously, it bothers me that your piece is still there. As long as it remains, it’s as though you’re still beating yourself up. That’s more upsetting to me than what upset you.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    This is why I only comment and don’t blog. I think one crow in over one years worth of effort is a pretty good track record. We forgive.

    Like you, I was disappointed but not shocked when I read your blog this morning. I just felt like, “Oh well, yet another round of no one listening to constituents.”

    I think you made an excellent point about DeMint. You KNOW how he is going to vote. Likewise, I’m always confident in how my rep, Tom Price, will vote. I think people like this predictability. This is the point I was trying to make about your Mitt Romney pitch the other day. People don’t like him because he is just another finger-to-the-wind guy who happens to lean more to the right.

    Also I agree with your point about Bush. When Bush lied, trust died. When trust dies, there is nothing left.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yes, we totally understand the mistake. Sometimes it is impossible to get the exact information from a website, even the one originally consulted.

    There are so many of us who rely on your site for information, and we know that you would follow up if you thought any of that information was invalid, so we, again, totally understand.

    Thank you for all you do for our country.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I myself repeated the misinformation which I received from a different site and was promptly corrected with, “Well that’s not what the Wall Street Journal” reported. You see, two of our hohum Republican senators were on that list and like you, I didn’t even question it, just assumed they had sold out.

    So while I am glad the information was wrong, I still mistrust those two senators as much as ever.

  12. Bobby K. says:

    I would like to include the e-mail I sent to Sen. Hutchinson, after I ranted this morning, hope she gets it.

    Sen. Hutchinson, I would very much like to send you my deepest apologies for the e-mail I had sent earlier about the Budget vote. It was reported that you had voted for it. I should have researched it further, before becoming angry, I hope you will accept and as always I wish you the best.

    Along time supporter
    Bobby K.

  13. Jeff Schreiber says:

    I know. I feel awful.

    I did call Sen. Hutchison’s office this morning, and will be sending off a snail-mail letter soon.

  14. CAL says:

    Jeff,
    Thanks for your quick correction. I know how you feel. I totally fell for the NASCAR story on April 1st and felt like a complete idiot the rest of the day.
    Thanks for all your hard work and honest reporting.

  15. Gail B says:

    Cal–
    What NASCAR story?

  16. Gail B says:

    Never mind–I found it. The hoax was that Obama had ordered Chevrolet and Dodge out of NASCAR. That was a good one!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,

    No permanent harm was done. Let it go. Your initial retraction was good enough for me.

    As far as I’m concerned – America’s Right is first-class.

    H

  18. Jan says:

    Jeff –
    This is what true leadership really looks like. Perhaps we should send every member of congress a link to this page and this article. You didn’t point fingers trying to blame someone else. You stood up and shouldered the responsibility of what you did. If only the infantile mentality morons in office would do half of what you just did maybe we would be in a better place. A mistake is a learning opportunity and nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you for your leadership.

  19. tm says:

    Jeff,
    and CNN, NBC, CBS, MSLSD etc flat out lie to our faces and there is never a correction, or retraction. You are honest, bright and right now up to your neck in studies. This has to be the most stressful time for all of us with leadership so emboldened to run us down a rat hole. Stop beating yourself up – and delete that post. Apology accepted and dude, everything is cool – go study !

    PS It’s on: RNC members want resolution condemning Specter for stimulus vote

    http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/rnc-conservatives-target-march-to-socialism-2009-04-03.html

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, I think you do a wonderful job. Keep up the great work! I come here every single day just to read your work. Sleep well my friend. Don’t let this slow you down.

  21. Ben Tover says:

    Jeff,
    I always respect a person who is quick to admit and rectify his mistakes. Your credibility undamaged. Now keep up the excellent reporting.

    A village in Kenya is missing its idiot.

    We still have much to do.

  22. Anonymous says:

    We all make mistakes, Jeff ! Thanks for the quick correction.
    Also, wanted to let everyone know we in N ID are starting a conservative rally. The web site is just getting started. Go to http://www.RallyRight.org. We’re hoping this spreads all across the country as we get organized. We’re going to take our country back.
    We had about 100 people and more since some could not even get in the door. Many just opened the door and grabbed flyers since we were in a small place. Didn’t realize so many would show up. It was awesome. So we’re trying to get ready for bigger and better by the next meeting. Baby steps!
    If we all get together on this we can take back the conservative Republican party. Let’s show them how it’s done .

    Thanks,
    jmi

    P.S, Get to crackin’ those books, Jeff! We need you to get your degree! :)

  23. David Crandall says:

    Jeff – I appreciate the error that you made, and made the same error myself in not checking the information.

    Why do I appreciate it ? Because your insight into how and why any of us could make that error today, knowing some of those names on the list the way we do, said a whole lot about our condition – and the attitude that many of us now have towards our government.

    Absolutely nothing really surprises us anymore.

    And that is a pretty sad comment.

    Your ‘correction’ is something that all of us should be sending to our Congressmen and women.

    Note that it is not just elected officials for which we now hold this nonexistant level of confidence, but also our court system, and our executive branch.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,
    Maybe these same Senators will take notice of the fact that we’re watching them and participating in the process. At least they know that we are going to respond to bad policies with phone calls, emails, etc. It was an honest mistake on your part. You corrected it. How many times have they apologized for mistakes? How many times have they tried to correct any wrongs they have perpetrated on the American public? How many? Can’t think of one. I think the real lesson should be learned by Congress.
    “We are aware…more than ever in American history…what you are doing. We are watching your votes”.
    Jeff, even though you apologized, you have to know that back in their minds the bigger problem for them, is the fact that we know what’s going on….that, “…uh-oh…they’re watching us more than ever”. Misinformation is a very small factor here. Your principles are still in tact. Are theirs?

  25. thunderprince says:

    Jeff, Anybody can make an honest mistake – we love your writings and your writers writings and appreciate your fast correction to the misunderstanding – don’t give it a second thought!!!

  26. GATOR-1 says:

    It seems my friend everyone has already told ya…

    #1 There has only been ONE Perfect person on Earth Jesus!

    #2 That is what leadership is supossed to look like.

    Now Hug the baby and quit beating yourself up like Ms Gail and others said…

    You dont want no ole hippie with a cane made from a dead tree upset with ya.

    Forward yee March and we’ll be RIGHT here…..

    BLESSINGS PATRIOTS….

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