08/25/2013 01:42 pm ET Updated Oct 24, 2013

Bob Filner's Blurred Lines

From: Abigail Werner (
To: Bob Filner (
Date: Saturday, August 24, 2013
Subject: Speech / request

Hello Mayor Filner, my name is Abigail, and I'm an editor at Words of Wisdom, the anthology of newsworthy and notable speeches. We would like to include your resignation address in our next issue. It has many of the hallmarks of great political speeches.

Let me explain by quoting excerpts:

"My own personal failures were responsible. And I apologize to the city."

I love the way you face your problems squarely here. Your contrition is genuine, thoughtful and believable.

"Those of you in the media and in politics who fed this hysteria, I think, need to look at what you helped create. Because you have unleashed a monster."

Now, you expertly change direction and blame other people. Your flexibility shows you do not think "compromise" is a bad word. That's refreshing in our polarized age.

"The hysteria that has been created, and many of you helped to feed, is the hysteria of a lynch mob."

Here you use two classic rhetorical devices. First, the word "hysteria." This is often associated with agitated women; in fact, "female hysteria" was once a common medical diagnosis. In other words, your problems stemmed not from your behavior, but from women's overreactions to your behavior.

Second, you compare your experience to a lynching. This is highly topical in light of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. As a "freedom rider" yourself, you know that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought to stop the lynchings of black people in the South. So I'm sure he would approve comparing their struggles to yours.

"I was trying to establish personal relationships. But the combination of awkwardness and hubris, I think, led to behavior that many found offensive."

Good! Remind listeners that you were only trying to be a good co-worker and boss. Then imply that "offensiveness" is in the eye of the beholder. Everything is subjective. After all, we cannot know what it's like to be you.

"We protected seals and we protected La Jolla from the poop from the seals and others."

Even in your hour of stress, you find time to care about the environment. I don't know how bad the seal poop problem was, but if it rises to this level, it must have been awful.

"We've introduced, and I hope you will pass, a climate action plan."

A good first step is getting rid of all the seal poop. That will improve the climate. Well done.

"We've had a tremendous acceleration of our relationships with Tijuana and with Mexico, which I hope you will continue. We have an office there now."

Again, mentioning national issues like immigration distracts listeners from your issues.

"I am not perfect."

Wonderful. Too many voters think politicians are perfect. You have disabused them of that notion, big time!

"You all know me to be a fighter...It's not in my nature to walk away from a fight."

This rhetorical device has been used by everyone from President Richard Nixon to Gov. Sarah Palin, usually right after they give up. You're continuing a grand speechwriting tradition.

"'The work goes on. The cause endures. The hope still lives. And the dream shall never die.'"

Given your difficulties with women, quoting the late Sen. Ted Kennedy may strike some as a bit "on-the-nose." But it reminds people that you're a great national leader, not a two-bit city hack.

Please email me directly your permission to reprint the speech. Thank you!

Sincerely, Abigail Werner


From: Bob Filner (
To: Abigail Werner (
Date: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Subject: Speech / request

Hello Abigail. I approve your request to reprint my Farewell Address to the people of San Diego.

Thank you for taking the time to really listen to my words. That is all too rare in this day and age. Politics is a blood sport to most people. But, as the cliché goes, I'm a lover, not a fighter.

Please don't take that the wrong way. My six days of intensive therapy taught me that I do not always use the right language when speaking to women, especially when I'm holding them in a headlock.

So, Abigail -- that's an old woman's name, by the way. Are you old? My former communications director, Irene, has an old woman's name. She's really hit the wall. Now the name fits!

I hope you have a sense of humor. Have you heard this one -- "How does a judge know if a mayor is guilty of sexual harassment? He asks him what her ass meant." Ha!

See, I can laugh at myself. I'm not a monster. I think you see that. I feel like we have an understanding.

Will you be in San Diego anytime soon? We could go down to Tijuana. I've got the office in Mexico until September 1st. No one will recognize you. Or, if you like the beach, we could stay at the Hotel del Coronado. I've got a personal cigar humidor there.

Reply back to my personal email: Or call my cell phone number. Just don't forget the San Diego area code: 619. It's a "69" with one in the middle. Get it?

If I'm being too forward, let me know. But I think we'd have a "Werner-ful" time together!

Your pal, Bob


From: Abigail Werner (
To: Bob Filner (;
Date: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Subject: Speech / request

Thank you for responding Bob. We are no longer interested in your speech. We will, however, be publishing your email reply to me. I have also cc'd the San Diego City Council and our law firm. You will be hearing from us in the coming days.

Keep on fighting!