Mea Culpas All Around

Perusing today’s headlines, it’s hard to ignore the very public mea culpas from the Vice President and Head of Homeland Security. By accepting full blame for what happened in the killing fields of Texas and the drowning pool of Louisiana, respectively, both expect to put their mounting media troubles behind them.

In a related story from the business world, the CEO of electronics retailer Radio Shack also blared onto today’s business pages by accepting blame for lying about having two college degrees. “I clearly misstated my academic record and the responsibility for these misstatements is mine alone.”

Can a “buck stops here” strategy take the wind out of the sails of a Category 4 crisis? Other than the astonishing revelation that Michael Chertoff, our nation’s crisis manager-in-chief, does not use e-mail, I’m beginning to think that these public pronouncements will achieve their desired goals — at least for the Veep and Secretary. (Of course, this is barring the untimely demise of Mr. Cheney’s “friend.”)

The constant flow of news, a fickle media consumer, and the absence of any real checks and balances will in effect displace most Beltway crises these days. As for Radio Shack, the jury is still out. It is a company that likely subscribes to both e-mail and good corporate governance.