How To Admit You Were Wrong

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As most of you may already know, California congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham messed up and took some bribes. It was a stupid thing to do, and as I was at work today I discussed with my coworkers why a guy like this would really need more money. I mean really, how much money do these guys really need? It simply don’t make sense.

However, his resignation letter seems genuinely heartfelt and quite earnest. Read it and tell me what you think (PDF).

I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I’ve compromised the trust of my constituents.

When I announced several months ago that I would not seek re-election, I publicly declared my innocence because I was not strong enough to face the truth. So, I misled my family, staff, friends, colleagues, the public — even myself. For all of this, I am deeply sorry.

The truth is — I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.

Some time ago, I asked my lawyers to inform the U.S. Attorney Carol Lam that I would like to plead guilty and begin serving a prison term. Today is the culmination of that process. I will continue to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation to the best of my ability.

In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame. I learned in Viet Nam that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. I cannot undo what I have done. But I can atone. I am now almost 65 years old and, as I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends.

The first step in that journey is to admit fault and apologize. The next step is to face the consequences of my actions like a man. Today, I have taken the first step and, with God’s grace, I will soon take the second.

Even though he screwed up, he has my respect after a letter like this. It doesn’t undo what he did, but it certainly creates an atmosphere where people can trust him again.

Well done Randy.