Awkward & self-righteous apologies abound

By Shaun Janis

Former New York Democratic Congressman Eric Massa and embattled professional golfer Tiger Woods should admit they are wrong, apologize, and just stop talking already.

Massa, a cancer survivor and Navy veteran, resigned Tuesday amid allegations he groped a male staff member. However, he explained in a statement last Friday that health concerns, and solely health concerns, motivated his resignation. His statement read, “Two days ago as I sat reading my new annual CAT scan … I decided to finally take the advice that my doctors have repeatedly given me, and that is to take care of my family and myself before my profession.”

The former congressman from New York’s 29th district reported that he learned of an ethics complaint only after he already decided to resign. The complaint alleged that Massa’s language made a staffer “uncomfortable.”
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Woods’ problems began in November 2009 when the National Enquirer alleged he cheated on his wife, catapulting about a dozen women who claimed to have participated in Woods’ infidelities into the international media spotlight. Shortly thereafter, he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant, perpetuating the gossip about his downfall. Woods announced in February that he was taking a break from professional golf following “selfish” and “foolish” behaviors.
After a period of utter silence, Woods accepted blame. He told reporters, “I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame.”

Woods made things awkward when he told the press, “Starting tomorrow, I will leave for more treatment and more therapy.” He continued, “In therapy I’ve learned the importance of looking at my spiritual life and keeping in balance with my professional life.”

Woods is attempting to lift some blame off his shoulders by implying he needs therapy to counteract his transgressions. He does not need therapy; he simply needs to learn how to be a better person. Woods has admitted that he doesn’t blame his wife, Elin, for his affair, and this recognition is a good first step. He must work much harder to understand why he violated his wife’s, his sponsor’s, and his fans’ trust. Average Joes know infidelity is wrong. What special characteristics exempt Woods from understanding this basic human convention?

But like I said, at least Tiger accepted responsibility. Massa’s statement, on the other hand, suggested he is a victim of a Washington, D.C. “blood sport” that encourages the “destruction” of elected leaders. He also blamed his supposed nonpartisanship for his downfall: “Some would say that this is what happens when you stand apart from political parties, which I have done,” Massa said in his statement.

On Tuesday, having officially resigned, Massa changed his story. He told Glenn Beck of Fox News Channel, “If somebody on my staff was offended, uncomfortable, thought I was inappropriate; I own that. … It’s why I resigned.” Massa made things awkward when he told Beck, “Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe and four guys jumped on top of me.”

His standoffish, smug, and overly aggressive response to this controversy portray a politician who wouldn’t think twice about exerting his power over a staffer. Massa’s so-called apology is nothing more than an affirmation of his crude and unapologetic nature. His apology and Woods’ apology should have been plain and simple: “I was wrong. I am sorry.”

Shaun Janis is the Student Voice’s assistant features editor for Web. He is a freshman sociology and advertising dual major.

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