From former Senator Tom Daschle to Olympic Champ Michael Phelps, the phrase of the week seems to be "mea culpa." Did it help?
Yes, it will help both men in the long run, their supporters in the short term, and more importantly, it was the right thing to do. When a newsmaker commits an error in judgement, the public -- and the press -- want accountability. That's what's made the Rod Blajojevich story so confounding. He hasn't apologized.
Tom Daschle lost his chance to be in the Cabinet, and Michael Phelps lost an endorsement or two. We hold lawmakers and athletic heroes to high standards, but most of us realize they are human. So when they apologize, we forgive them. We have short memories. If you would've asked me a couple of years ago, I would've said Senator Joe Biden would never be elected to higher office because of the plagiarism incident that clouded his career. And now, he's a heartbeat away from the highest office in the United States.
We will probably hear from Tom Daschle again. And Michael Phelps may be back on a cereal box in 2012.
Learn from them. If you goof up, be ready to say, "My bad."