Forgive me for incredulity but I can think of no other word to describe what has been going on in the Culture Secretary's mind this week. I wish him no ill and believe Jeremy Hunt MP is innocent until proven guilty, but let me try to chronicle what has happened:
1. Allegations of corruption have emerged that he and his office were less than impartial in considering an application from a Murdoch Company.
2. He denies this.
3. Later he sacks a senior adviser for doing one or two underhand (underdesk?) things under that precise heading.
4. Now he asks for the opportunity to attend an enquiry into something parallel, maybe complementary but different, at an early stage, in order to set the record straight.
How does he reach this conclusion? All he has to do is imagine the worst questions an inquiry into this behaviour might ask and answer them. He could, in other words, be completely and utterly open about what has happened. He could podcast, try another statement to the House, write a full and frank newspaper article or blog and engage with comments. He won't. In this day and age there are so many ways to be open and yet politicians again and again want to take their chance with a grilling. They seem to believe that they can rely on their ability to get through a question and answer session, possibly evading some questions or muddying other issues, and then saying to the press afterwards 'I've made it clear and was glad of the opportunity to clear my name.'
Let's face it. Apart from issues of national security the social media generation are highly suspicious of anyone who isn't completely open about everything all the time. We tell each other stuff and are happy to engage with each other. A decision to be a politician is a decision to be open to scrutiny and open in response to scrutiny.
Even Cameron, about whom I am still uncertain, wisely offered an open response to the question the other day of how he found time to play tennis then dine his wife when the country was in a mess. I don't think he needed to be shy about those two things and am glad he wasn't.
We are entering a new age of openness. It is scaring the old guard but they need to live with it. If you don't have an accessible social media profile people will soon be more suspicious of you than if you do and occasionally admit to short-comings.