In a lengthy speech following his ouster as Mayor, Bob Filner was classic Bob Filner. Without any hint of irony, he said, "The city should not have been put through this." Having stated the obvious and seemingly oblivious to his role in what the city has gone through, Filner went on to apologize in a manner that has now become familiar. To the victims of his sexual advances, he said he was sorry – to a point. He only admitted to "behavior that many found offensive" and offered a feeble excuse that he "had no intention to be offensive." Filner's apology itself was offensive.
Then, the true defiant, licentious Bob Filner spoke. He repeated his assertion that he had "never sexually harassed anyone" and that he knew, "if given due process, [he] would be vindicated."
It's difficult for those of us who have known Bob and worked with him to hear his proclamations. He is a highly intelligent individual. As is his fashion, he has reminded many of us of that. But, for him to claim and, seemingly believe, that he has done nothing wrong is unfathomable. He certainly has the ability to compartmentalize. It's one of the reasons he can scream in the face of a friend one minute and later act as though nothing untoward had occurred, often even joking around like old buddy we once knew.
At the same time, we recognize that Bob Filner has defined himself for the past 50 years by a single incident when he was 18 years old. As a "Freedom Rider," drawing attention to the disregard for federal law and local violence used to enforce segregation in the southern United States, Filner was arrested on an unjust charge. Instead of posting bail, he remained in a Montgomery, Alabama jail for two months.
It was not surprising to hear him claim that he perceived himself as facing a "lynch mob." It was disheartening to listen to him blaming victims, the media and "well-organized interests who have run this city for 50 years" for what he referred to as a "political coup."
Finally, Filner rattled off a list of political, social and other progressive issues that we had hoped he would have accomplished as Mayor. Balboa Park, labor agreements, livable wages, a focus on neighborhoods, port expansion, new jobs, solar energy, arts and culture, and, perhaps most importantly, incorporating the views of minorities, working families and traditionally underrepresented groups into the city's decision-making process. In his words, giving "everyone an equal opportunity, a chance to be heard, a chance to have that seat at the table."
Those issues, those values and that vision are why I entered politics and government. Regrettably, Bob invoked those issues in a manner that implied that we overlook his repugnant behavior as the price for achieving those laudable goals.
Bob Filner closed his remarks with a quote by Ted Kennedy in Kennedy's concession speech to President Jimmy Carter at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. Kennedy's quote evoked the memory of his two older brothers who both lost their lives in service to our county. That Filner chose this quote for us to remember him by was a disservice to the memories of two truly great men. That Filner believes himself in such company speaks volumes about the difference between the noble person he believes himself to be and the exceedingly flawed person he truly is.