I’m nine years younger than Texas Governor Rick Perry but I’ve shared similar “senior moments,” those dreaded incidents of brain freeze when your memory locks up. Perry’s very public freeze came during a presidential debate this week. His already-famous “oops” and his inability to recover from his lapse have become a public relations debacle for those who want him elected commander-in-chief.
Another candidate’s very public memory failure continued into a second week. Herman Cain still has no recollection of the women who once accused him of sexual harassment, not even the two to whom he paid settlement money. His credibility is in question, and whatever public relations advice he’s being given is, by all appearances, being ignored. Both Cain’s and Perry’s failing memories should soon spell the end of their presidential bids.
Far more serious are the choices made by Penn State coaches and officials to ignore and then effectively forget about a heinous crime. For a coach to molest young boys and for others to look the other way, effectively forgetting it ever happened, caused terrible damage to the victims and now to the careers of those involved, including the university’s president and legendary coach Joe Paterno. Clyde Doughty, Jr., my friend and athletic director of my alma mater NYIT, wrote in his Facebook today: “Power has its privilege; however, power has responsibility and accountability. In this case power corrupted and absolute power corrupted absolutely.” The collateral damage is to the reputation of a great academic institution. And the PR damage to Penn State will likely last for years.