(Steve Sebelius/SlashPolitics.com) – For those wondering what to do in politics, consider this column a guide to the answers
They say life is the hardest teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterward.
But that doesn’t mean that future politicians can’t benefit from the lessons that have befallen some of their colleagues. Consider this column a cheat sheet, should these situations arise in the future.
First off, from the state Sen. Dennis Nolan file: If you’re asked to testify as a character witness in the rape trial of a person — even someone you consider a friend — when that person is charged with sexually assaulting his 16-year-old sister-in-law while his wife slept in the same house, you say, “No!” It’s easy enough: Just tell the defendant’s lawyer that, should you be called, you’d express the same moral outrage that any normal human being would at such a crime. Odds are, if you say that, you won’t be called.
Second, if you’re ever tempted to play amateur detective, and try to prove that your rapist friend (who confessed to the cops, according to a police report) is actually innocent, lie down until that temptation passes. That is, if you want to get re-elected. No matter how pure your intentions, you’ll just end up looking goofy (at best) and creepy (at worst).
Third, from the Sue Lowden file: When you make mistakes — and you will — admit it, apologize and move on. It’s preferable to do this before you’re the butt of jokes on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. No matter what your advisers tell you, those people are most definitely not laughing with you.
Consider the object lesson of Sharron Angle. She was accused of voting for a pay increase for legislators, and she replied that she’d never cast such a vote. Turns out, she did. And shortly after her denial, she admitted her mistake, explained herself and apologized. And guess what? Everybody accepted her apology and moved on. Admitting you were wrong takes courage, but the price of chickening out is far, far worse. Trust that.
Fourth, from the Kathy McClain file: Say what you mean. When McClain’s campaign put out a flier comparing the married-with-children McClain to her unmarried, has-lived-with-his-mom opponent Mark Manendo, the implication was unmistakable: McClain was obviously implying Manendo is gay. And that’s odd, given that McClain’s people really wanted to draw attention to long-standing and oft-reported allegations that Manendo was a serial sexual harasser. Of women. As a result, McClain’s campaign caught flak in the gay community, and understandably so.
Oh, and another thing, from the McClain file: Don’t ever, ever, ever use campaign dollars for anything remotely resembling a personal expense. Say, for your retirement. That’s not just a bad idea, it’s a crime.
Fifth, from the Jacob Hafter file: Don’t screw around with the Nevada State Bar Association. Sure, it may ultimately be proven that claiming a complaint has been filed with the bar against the attorney general is First Amendment-protected free speech. But in the meantime, you’ll be the one with the letter of reprimand in your file, fighting with the state Supreme Court over the discipline, instead of campaigning. Unless, of course, that is your campaign strategy, in which case, good luck with that.
Sixth, and finally, from the Lowden/Angle files: If you are going to use any form of transportation that you don’t personally own, find out what it costs the average person and pay that. Don’t take donated or discounted rides on planes, trains or RVs.
See? Just a few simple, common sense rules, which, if you follow them, will keep you out of trouble. Mostly.