The Obama administration has been enduring public humiliation, having rushed to force the resignation a black USDA employee falsely charged with racial bias against white dirt farmers, only to have been shown to have swallowed a rightwing hoax and had the charges refuted by both the evidence and the dirt farmers. Pretty bad. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack has now offered the wronged employee a public apology and a job. He sounded quite contrite.
In this last bit, he's defending the White House from charges that it pressed him to deep-six Sherrod in order to quiet the furor rightwing media were ginning up. The denial isn't likely to be believed, but otherwise, Vilsack seems convincing.
The other day I ran across a succinct description of how an institution should handle a public relations crisis. I saved it, not knowing when I might find it interesting. Now I know. Here's the prescription. (I've cut the specifics of the incident described to extract the general principles).
My emphasis. If that's the standard, and I think it is, it looks like the Obama folks were able to sink their pride and fairly quickly take a better course. Any other action would not only have been wrong -- it also would have been a terribly damaging admission of inability to respond to a minor but telling crisis.
Much of my criticism of the Obama administration has arisen from shock that the crisis management apparatus that so deftly managed the 2008 campaign (any campaign is a minefield of unexpected eruptions) had apparently dissolved once the Prez took office. Let's hope this little episode presages a revival of past sure-footedness.