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Monday, June 9, 2014

Apologies are great....but.....

Steve Coburn is a hothead and egomaniac. I don't think there is much dispute about that. In the free society we live in, he is allowed to be that. It is even charismatic to some extent--until it isn't. It is one of the reasons that Donald Trump was so successful on The Apprentice. People like to watch that type up close. As long as they don't have to deal with them one on one daily in their own world.
Coburn had that brash, I don't give a crap flair that was somewhat charming leading up to Saturday. He seemed to tell it like it is. No bullshit. It was somewhat refreshing. We are so used to the usual soundbites and prepared statement doubletalk that we see from the overly coached athletes out there. Say all the right things. Offend nobody. Don't make any waves.
Today on GMA (Good Morning America), Coburn apologized for most of what he said and how he acted on Saturday after his Triple Crown bubble burst. I suppose he couldn't think of a scenario where his horse was going to lose the Belmont, then it happened and in the heat of the moment, he snapped.
Coburn strikes me as the type that always wins. Gets his way. Bull-in-a-china shop type. If it isn't going to happen, he makes it happen.
I recognize the Steve Coburn type. I have worked for and with many like him. Self made man. Confident. Brash. Gruff. Tough. Arrogant. Owns his own business, because he doesn't want partners. His way or the highway. It is probably what got him to the place he is at in life. 
In his eyes, he is the boss. He makes the rules. Others cheat him. He gets even. On his own. He will get his way, or it is the highway.
All that matters is what he thinks matters. The right way to do it is how he thinks you should do it. And generally, that means it favors him and anything he is involved in. If he owned Tonalist and beat California Chrome, he would be saying his horse won fair and square and those are the rules. 
Unfortunately for him, the racing world doesn't work that way. It isn't his business, or toy. He doesn't make any of the rules. He has to follow them. And here is where it all started to break down. He was willing to follow them, as long as he was still getting his way and his horse was winning. The nasal strip thing was just one example of that. Once he had the clout, they would have to bend to his will. As for the rest, it didn't matter. He went along as long as the horse kept winning.
And then his horse lost and he fell apart. His type always does. They lash out. The tantrums. The bullying. The irrational behavior. They don't think they have to answer for that, nor do they really care or intend to answer for them. 
We have all been there. We lose our cool. We are human. None of us is immune to the odd instance where we go off and wish we could take it back and make like it didn't happen. Of course, we all don't have hundreds of millions of people watching us self destruct on National TV.
Anyway, you knew that apology was coming. It was as predictable an action and reaction as when you tell your wife that her ass looks okay but her friends is hot. You pretty much know how the rest of that story and how the after is going to play out. You are going to cave and say whatever it takes to get out of that faux pas. Even if you don't believe a word of the apology and you meant what you said in the first place.
Steve Coburn's tantrums and rants probably haven't got him in any or much trouble in the confines of his house or his business. This time though, reality set in shorty after.

 I woke up this morning, realized what I had done,
I stood alone in the cold gray dawn:
I knew I'd lost my morning sun.
I lost my head and I said some things,
Now come the heartaches that the morning brings.
I know I'm wrong and I couldn't see,
I let my world slip away from me.

-Charlie Rich
I guess, all of our first reactions are: good for him. He manned up. He owned up. He was clearly wrong, and out of line, and he realized that after the fact, when the heat of the moment became the cool, dark night in the hotel room. Probably, there was some tongue lashing from his wife in private. Most of us have been there as well. We basically lie back and take that when we know we have it coming and they are right. She tried to stop him in public, in the heat of the moment, but that clearly wasn't going to work. He was out of control and distraught. The world had taken away his Triple Crown pacifier and he was going to scream and cry to anyone within earshot how that wasn't fair.
"It's NOT fair to these horses that have been in the game from day one. I look at it this way. If you can't make enough points to get in the Kentucky Derby, you can't run in the other two races."
-Steve Coburn 

(Note in the video how he points his finger in a dictating and angry way and calls others who don't do it like him cowards.)

The interviewer, Kenny Rice, could see it happening and he was doing his best to get him to say more. I guess you can't blame him. That's his job. He isn't Steve Coburn's media consultant. He isn't damage control. He is a reporter falling into the lap of a shitstorm. But it isn't right to exploit him like that. Sadly, that is the society we live in these days. 
It works this way for a reason. I am pretty certain the majority of the people out there can't name the trainer and owner of the winner of the Belmont,  Tonalist. I follow horse racing very closely, and I can barely name the trainer and couldn't tell you the name of the owners of Tonalist. They didn't do anything spectacular, other than win a major stakes race and foil the coronation of the next king. There is no story there on them. 
Nope, the story is the fallen kingdom. We all want to see and know about that. Don Henley even wrote a song about it.
 Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em when they're down
Kick 'em when they're up
Kick 'em all around

We got the bubble headed
Bleached blonde
Comes on at five
She can tell you 'bout the plane crash
With a gleam in her eye
It's interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation
Is the head dead yet
You know the boys in the newsroom
Got a running bet
Get the widow on the set
We need dirty laundry
-Don Henley

The thing about the heat of the moment is that many or most people say what they are really thinking. What they have kept quiet about, but they lose their defences and blurt it out. Once that floodgate opens, all sorts of things come out that you wish you had never said,  even though you probably believe them to be true. It is for this reason that in police interrogations they just try to wear you down, to "break you" and get you to finally admit to what you've done, or how you really think about something that doesn't put you in a good light when the trial comes along. 
We have all seen that on a Perry Mason or Law and Order episode. That is what good trial lawyers do. They break you down, make you forget where you are, and rile you up enough that you blurt out something you actually think and believe, but would never want to say in public. The jury gasp comes after that and you know the verdict is predictably guilty in the next scene.

 What do I say when it's all over? 

And sorry seems to be the hardest word?

It's sad. So sad. It's a sad, sad situation.

And it's getting more and more absurd.

-Elton John

And then the next day comes, and you are in backpedal mode. Everyone tells you to say you're sorry. To apologize. You didn't mean it. You don't believe what you said. Elton John sang about sorry being the hardest word, but it really doesn't seem that hard a word at all these days.

The reality of our society these days is that sorry isn't the hardest word. It seems easy. Just behave badly, and you can say your sorry and be the hero for falling and taking the sword. Most times, the person isn't sorry for what they have said, but sorry for the reaction it got. And that they got caught. So, their apology is hollow, predictable and mostly meaningless. They are doing it for themselves--not for others--as an apology should be. Michael Vick comes to mind.

Apologies don't mean  much in these cases for two reasons.

First, in most cases--and I believe this one to be one of those cases--you are apologizing for saying it, not that you don't believe it.
Second, you are forced to apologize because society expects that from you. I, for one, would have loved to hear him say that he apologized for his tone and his actions, but not take back what he believed, if that is what he believes, which I think he does.
I don't agree with him on any of the things he said after the race. But, he is allowed to think that, and clearly, if he wishes, say it. But if you say and believe it, then own it. Don't take it back. That isn't a true apology. Not in my book.
I think it would be a much better world if people apologized less. If you believe in what you said, own it and don't take it back. There is too much of that these days.
What he really cant apologize for is a lack of class. That is what Coburn showed. He was a sore and sour loser. He wasn't saying any of those things until he lost, because winning was all that mattered. Once losing appeared on the scene, we saw his true colors. The ugly, classless ones that we see a lot of the time when things fall apart on people who are used to always getting their own way.
That will sadly be the lasting legacy of Coburn. Not the folksy small time guy who hit it big with the nickel bred dream horse. Nope, the guy who lost it on TV and showed a total lack of class and grace in defeat.
Don't get me wrong though. There is nothing wrong at all with apologizing if you truly mean it and you are truly sorry.
I am the first to apologize if I hurt someone with something I didn't mean or didn't or shouldn't have said.
Generally, if I apologize for something, it is something I am not proud of and would not likely do again. Not because I got caught doing it or saying it, but that I know within myself that it isn't me or who I want to be. I don't see that in this case with Coburn.
When I listen and watch the clip I posted at the start of the blog, my gut reaction is that I am not buying the sincerity of his apology for one second. It is CYA 101, and nothing is sincere about that.

It was the heat of the moment
Telling me what my heart meant
The heat of the moment
showed in your eyes


If that is the way you feel, and think, then don't take it back. Sure, apologize to your wife for treating her the way you did in public. That I get. Apologize for being a sore loser. Yup, that is probably a good idea. But don't apologize for taking a stand and having an opinion on a situation and that you don't think it is fair. Or in his own words, that the "playing field wasn't level." Most don't agree with you, but that doesn't matter. You are allowed to have your opinion and say. If you apologize for that, then why should we believe anything you say? Are you just going to take it back when enough people pressure you to do so?

The thing is, when people apologize they usually give you clues that they aren't sorry for what they said, and aren't really taking it back.
Their words don't mean anything if you are to believe their apology.
Coburn said the race wasn't fair because those other horses that beat him didn't have to race the other two legs. In his apology this morning, in his exact words, he said:

"He deserved the win. He (Tonalist) won the race fair and square."

-Steve Coburn

"I NEED to apologize."

 -Steve Coburn

He didn't say he wanted to apologize. he said he needs to. The truth is, if you watch him, he doesn't want to apologize. It's hard for him. In this case, saying sorry is hard, because he isn't sorry. Nor does he believe what he is saying now.
But make no mistake, when his type apologizes, it is only because others are making him do it, and he doesn't believe a word that is coming out of his mouth. I am 100% certain that if you had a secret microphone on him at dinner tonight, you would hear a much different story. 

In fact, yesterday, when he had already had time to think it over, he said this:

"I don't regret a damn thing I said. That's my opinion on this and I'm sticking to it."

-Steve Coburn

Apologies are great...but...not when they aren't sincere..forced and hollow to the point you don't believe them. In those cases, it only makes it worse. In addition to being a jackass, you don't even stand by your own words. What is left when that is gone as well?Nothing.

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