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Contentions

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

Quite often, when a person or group is accused of something improper or illegal, they’ll pretend to admit some guilt, while insisting on their innocence. For example, a corporation accused of dumping pollutants will pay a hefty settlement, but insist that the money is not an admission of their crime. It’s often accepted with a wink and a nod — “Sure, you’re innocent, you’re just doing this out of the goodness of your hearts and to make the whole mess go away.”

Well, there have been two such examples involving those closest and dearest to President Obama’s heart — and, as usual, it’s quite entertaining.

First up, Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor had been a member of the for-women-only elite group the Belizean Grove. Judge Sotomayor, a sitting federal judge, joined last year. Unfortunately, the American Bar Association’s judicial code states that it is inappropriate for a judge to belong to any group that discriminates on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin — and “No Boys Allowed” doesn’t exactly conform.

Sotomayor resigned from the club, but insisted that there was nothing inappropriate about the membership. No men had ever been admitted, but Sotomayor said that was because none had ever asked.

Meanwhile, ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now! — has announced that it has changed its name to “Community Organizations International.” The leaders of the Group Formerly Known as ACORN say that they had to jettison the name because it had drawn so much fire over the years. Apparently most of the criticism of ACORN has been provoked by the name itself. The conduct of the group, its leadership, and its members — which will likely continue unchanged under the new letterhead and banner — were not much of a factor at all.

From a branding perspective, it’s a bit of a shame. ACORN’s name was a call to action that lent itself to an easy-to-remember name and a snazzy logo. True, it also let people refer to them as “nuts,” but that’s a small price to pay for such an identifiable name.

Unless, of course, the conduct of those responsible for guarding ACORN’s reputation turn out to be completely inept, corrupt, or both. Incidents such as concealing a near-seven-figure embezzlement by the founder’s brother, keeping it away from public scrutiny and law enforcement until it can be quietly repaid. Incidents such as investigations of voter registration fraud in 14 states — with numerous convictions. Incidents as illegally seizing and occupying foreclosed homes.

So, how good is the new name? According to the Free Dictionary list of acronyms, the first meaning of “COI” is “Conflict Of Interest” — hardly a term this group would want to play around with.

Of course, it must be stated (and re-stated and re-stated) that in both cases, the changes are in no way an admission of wrongdoing. Nope. Not at all. Just done out of the same sense of the new apology — “I’m sorry that my remarks were misconstrued, and I apologize to anyone who might have been offended.”



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