Filner apologizes while hanging on to mayorship

by Kenneth Leonard

Mayor Bob Filner battles calls for his resignation following allegations of sexual harassment.

Like so many rats leaping into the ocean as a ship goes down, Mayor Bob Filner’s staffers are abandoning ship at a breakneck pace, hurriedly distancing themselves from the disgraced career politician they were all so happy to hitch their wagons to during the last election.

Defectors from team Filner are premature in their assessment of the situation, though. While self-righteous civilians prepare the torches and pitchforks, clamoring for Filner to resign immediately in the wake of alleged misconduct and sexual harassment scandals, Filner is preparing a strategy to maintain his position at the helm of San Diego.

It’s not hard to imagine Filner in a laboratory, like some kind of mad political scientist, concocting a formula to dissolve public outrage. Our first glimpse at the mayor’s strategy occurred when Filner released a bizarre apology DVD to local media.

In the video, a visibly distressed Filner gazed into the camera and said, “I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior.”

“As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them,” Filner said.

If he would’ve stopped apologizing after just saying those things (specifically, that he has disrespected and intimidated female colleagues and that he suddenly realizes that these are not good), he would be a sitting duck. Resignation would be imminent. However, this is Filner we’re talking about, so there was more to the so-called apology.

He said he knew San Diego residents “have every right to be disappointed” in him but asked that we “give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city’s future can be realized.”

Well, why should we do that, Bob?

In his apology, Filner said, “It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.”

Here is where Filner’s strategy is revealed. You see, Filner’s semi-apologetic statement attempts to propagate a narrative wherein the victims in this scenario aren’t the women who were allegedly harassed by the mayor.

Filner continued by saying, “I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes.”

What we are meant to take away from Filner’s statement is that he is the victim. Filner is playing himself as the victim of an era where casual misogyny was culturally acceptable, but now, in 2013, he is suddenly aware of his transgressions. We are supposed to feel sorry for him. The poor mayor who didn’t know what he was doing, and who is now exceedingly eager to step into this strange new world where women are actual people with feelings and rights and stuff.

The best-case scenario is that the mayor of one of the largest and most diverse cities in the U.S. is a solid fifty years behind the curve when it comes to women’s rights. This is only a relevant option if Filner’s apology was entirely sincere, which would be pretty pathetic.

On the other hand, the worst-case scenario is that our mayor is a power-hungry reptilian creature, devoid of compassion, who will pretend to be a hapless boob so he can maintain his position atop the local political ladder. It’s important during times such as these to remember one essential truth about politicians: They are guided entirely by interest, and not by empathy. Filner will do what a politician does. He will grip the mayor’s seat with all the fervor of a drowning man clinging to a life preserver. He will do this at the expense of the city, and nobody should be surprised.

As scandalous allegations tear through city hall and mid-level local politicians step on each other in a laughable competition to determine who is the most morally superior to Filner, let’s all remember Mark Twain’s witticism, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”