I once interviewed Tupac Shakur. It went better than I had expected, mostly because he graciously spared me the whole Thug Life gangsta' persona B.S. and just talked to me. I was convinced that he was going to make the seamless transition from rap icon to movie star. He had only made a few movies at that time, but he had such screen presence. When he was in a scene, you couldn't keep your eyes off him.
Another reason that I thought said transition was imminent was that I felt certain that rap music had pretty much run its course. It had gone from playful ("Rapper's Delight") to rhythmic ("Walk This Way") to sexist ("Baby Got Back") to political ("Fight The Power") to violent ("F--- Tha Police") and, to me, anyway, it seemed as though (like disco and punk before it) there was no place else for it to go. I even wove my contention into the story. However, before it could run, Tupac was shot in Las Vegas and he died a week later.
Looking back, my silly contention couldn't have been more wrong. Nearly 20 years later, hip-hop is still a force in the music industry. Kendrick Lamar just released an album on which he has a 12-minute "conversation" with Tupac. And the No. 1 album in the country this week is the soundtrack from the hip-hop-based prime-time soap opera, "Empire."
When the article didn't run, I guess you could say (in the poorest of taste) that I had dodged a bullet. (Not unlike rap mogul Suge Knight, who was seated right next to Shakur in the car when the fatal bullets were fired. Shakur took five in the torso while the 800-lb. Knight waddled away without a scratch.) The Las Vegas police found that to be only mildly suspicious.
I suppose that I could have kept all that to myself and saved myself the minor embarrassment. But I'm glad I didn't. Recognizing and admitting that you're wrong can be cathartic and even uplifting.
Just think how wonderful it would be if our "leaders" or our pundits or even one person on Fox News were adult enough to admit that they had gotten something wrong. How refreshing would it be to hear, "Hey, I really messed that up. I'll try to do better next time." Unfortunately, we have such a toxic political environment that admitting to having made a mistake would be seen as a sign of weakness. All too often, an honest mistake is followed by hedging, then fudging, and finally by outright lying.
Only one of two things can happen after that. Either the lies are told so often and so convincingly that the truth is degraded and perhaps even destroyed. Or the people who got it wrong man up, admit their mistake, and move forward.
Here are a few whoppers that have been around for far too long. (Feel free to unburden yourself if you ever bought into any of this nonsense.)
•The low interest rates imposed by the Fed will lead to hyper-inflation. Remember that one? Sean Hannity and all the Fox Fakes shouted that for years, but, as it turns out, the Fed's policy has helped lead to record high levels for the stock market, sustained growth over a very long period, a huge drop in the unemployment rate, and monster job growth that points to a roaring economy. Seriously, do you hear anything coming from the Right these days about the economy?
What's really funny in an evil way is that the sweethearts of the Right—the banks and the big corporations--have been sitting on so much of their huge profits generated during the recovery that the Fed's low-interest policy has almost led to deflation. A lot of people were super-wrong on that one.
•Obamacare will send health-care costs through the roof. According to USA Today, while health-care costs continue to rise, they are doing so at a historically low rate. After decades in which not only the cost of health care rose but also the rate at which the growth occurred accelerated, it has begun to slow down. Just about nobody saw it coming and the doomsayers still won't acknowledge that it's here.
•Charter schools will outstrip public schools within five years. Some Arizona legislators said that back when they were pushing for their pet project. It's been 20 years and the outstripping has yet to materialize.
•Nobody will sign up for Obamacare. The percentage of Americans who are uninsured is at the lowest rate IN HISTORY! And it continues to drop. There are some truly twisted people out there who still believe that America should not take care of its own, but after a stumbling start, Obamacare is a raging success and a truly great program that makes our country a better place. Obamacare is saving the lives of real people and absolutely killing Republican politicians.
•Lowering taxes will actually generate more tax revenue. This is the paisley of bad political ideas. It keeps coming back every few years and every time it does, it always sucks. It didn't work for Ronald Reagan. It didn't work for Newt Gingrich. It has been an absolute disaster for Kansas Governor San Brownback and it damn sure isn't going to work for Doug Ducey.
Do you think he'll ever admit it?