The story was reported but didn’t get much play. It contained the seed of an idea with the potential to change the discourse in America and perhaps, at times, even change the course of history.
In Wilson, N.C., according to WRAL-TV, a state representative and her husband apologized after he was caught on video pulling a sticker for his wife’s opponent off a restaurant door and putting up one of hers.
Republican Susan Martin said she was “very embarrassed” by what her husband did. The husband, Dr. Lew Martin, said, “I’m a bonehead.”
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“I’m a bonehead.”
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Such a simple statement. An unequivocal confession containing within itself the only legitimate explanation there could be for a stunt so stupid: Boneheadism.
What happened after the husband made his admission? The story died. It apparently didn’t even live for a second 24-hour news cycle. Think what would happen if politicians and big names in the news started adopting this radical concept of quickly, conclusively, admitting their guilt.
What if the moment his “We were robbed” tale came in for contradiction, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte had sat down with Matt Lauer and said, “Matt, I’m a bonehead”?
What if in 2007 John Edwards, as soon as reports surfaced he had cheated on his cancer-battling wife and fathered an out-of-wedlock baby, had sat down with Barbara Walters, cried, and said, “Barbara, I’m a bonehead”?
What if Anthony Weiner, the moment that first photo got out in 2011, instead of claiming his Facebook account had been hacked, had gone to Anderson Cooper and said ...
Never mind. Best we leave the Weiner out of this. A decision which proves that, no, it wouldn’t work in all situations, this Declaration of Boneheadia.
It could not have been used by George W. Bush to explain his decision to invade Iraq after it turned out Saddam didn’t have mass quantities of destructive weapons. It wouldn’t get Hillary Clinton off the hook on Benghazi.
She could have given it a shot as the only explanation for her inexplicable use of private email for top-secret government work, however. And Bush could definitely have invoked Boneheadism after “You’re doing a great job, Brownie” turned out not to be the most accurate review of his FEMA director’s performance during Hurricane Katrina.
The “I’m a bonehead” proclamation could also not be used by everyone. It is an ipso facto mea culpa, an open-and-shut-case of “I’m Guilty.” It could not be invoked while at the same time questioning the very meaning of bonehead, precluding its use by Bill Clinton.
Your run-of-the-mill political or celebrity swirl, though, could be cut short and put in the rear-view mirror if only the guilty party could bring him or herself to quickly utter the simple words, “I’m a bonehead.”
Fortunately, for those of us who earn our pay at least partly by poking public figures who can’t stop spinning when the truth would set them free, I have no fear of an epidemic of such revelations. Politicians and celebrities are more willing to risk being seen publicly as liars than boneheads.
So, what does that say about the public?
Keith Larson can be heard weekdays 9 a.m. - Noon on WBT AM/FM.