Michaelia Cash – Oh no! Not Twice!!!

Senator Cash said some dumb things in Senate Estimates on Wednesday. Unsubstantiated slut shaming is never a good look. We all stuff up. But the way she handled it means she stuffed up twice and will hurt her government in the process.

In the heat of battle it can easily cross the line – it seems right at the time, but on reflections we know it was wrong. It’s how you handle it that shows your true character.

What voters expect

We don’t expect our leaders to be perfect, but we wont accept them being cows either. We know they are human and are bound to make mistakes – we all do. Cash made an error of judgement and could have responded completely different and it would not be dragging on and drowning out the governments message, dragging other ministers into the mess and giving ammunition to political foes.

How to handle stuff-ups

When you stuff up (and we all do) the first step is to stop digging the hole. The further you entrench yourself in the position the harder it is to deal with later (as she is finding out).

The easiest way to do this is to apologise and withdraw. Apologise and withdraw without qualification. Cash did not do this. She said, “If someone has been offended I withdraw the comments”. This tells us that she stands by her comments if no one is offended. She would rather be right than happy (her version of right)

The power this gives you

When you apologise it takes the steam out of the attack. Anything that is said by those against you can rightly be shown to be all about the attacker. If the issue is again raised what can it achieve? Nothing. If the opposition escalate it to ask for Cash to resign there is a credible defence that you would not sack someone who has such integrity to apologise the moment they realise they have made an error.

Will it be easy?

No – but it will be easier. Apologising on the spot may cause a few hours of embarrassment and shame (rightly so), but this will be nothing compared to having to arrange a whiteboardto run behind to keep out of the eye of the media.

It is our pride that feels it will be hurt fi we apologise, But as the old saying puts it, pride goes before a fall.

The unintended benefit

Apologising gives you strength. It shows you to be the bigger person. In 2006 Kevin Rudd apologised for visiting a stipe club in New York and his popularity went through the roof. Same for Bob Hawke. More recently, Nick Xenophon apologised for a major stuff up in his health budget calculations and the problem went away quickly.

We all stuff up once in a while. The way we handle it determines if the impact is short or sustained.

As always I’d love your thoughts here.

Cheers

Darren

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