Enough with apologies, already!

posted at 10:32 am on March 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Are you as sick of the knee-jerk demands for apologies as I am? This political season has had only one real constant — the whining cries for apologies after politically stupid statements that should stand as testaments to the vapidity of those who made them. Every campaign has engaged in this practice, and it has gotten so prevalent that even an obsessive blogger would have trouble tracking all of the emerging demands for retractions.

The latest case in point comes from our friends at the RNC, who rightly object to Howard Dean’s remarks about John McCain but fall into the victim trap in their response:

A senior Republican Party official demanded that Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean apologize late Friday afternoon for calling Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “a blatant opportunist” who has “cast aside his principles.”
Frank Donatelli, the deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), sought to drive a wedge between Dean and Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) over the comments.

“Howard Dean owes John McCain an immediate apology and both Senators Clinton and Obama should unequivocally denounce this disgraceful attack,” said Donatelli. …

“John McCain can try to reintroduce himself to the country, but he can’t change the fact that he cast aside his principles to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush the last seven years,” said Dean. “While we honor McCain’s military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.”

Dean, of course, sang a different tune in 2004. When John Kerry ran for President on the basis of three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star — and not much else — Dean asked, “Who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America, a group of people who never served a day overseas in their life, or a guy who served his country honorably and has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?” Now, all of a sudden, talking about military service makes a candidate a “blatant opportunist”, a rather offensive allegation against someone who spent over five years being tortured by the enemy in that conflict.

Donatelli, who’s normally sharp and incisive, simply takes the wrong approach. Victims demand apologies and give power to their victimizers. If Dean doesn’t apologize, what happens? The RNC has just given him the power to re-emphasize his attack and make McCain a victim all over again. James Carville demonstrated that when he refused to apologize to Bill Richardson for calling him a Judas, leaving Richardson fuming — and giving Carville the last word.

Americans don’t elect victims to office — not if they have another choice.

Besides, how effective are demanded apologies? They’re meaningless; usually they just take the form of condescension, saying, “I’m sorry if you took offense to my brilliance.” They are never sincere and only rarely take the form of admission of wrongdoing.

Instead of demanding apologies and playing the victim, campaigns should respond by highlighting the stupidity of the comment. Don’t ask for an apology; just ask, “What kind of jackass would consider McCain’s military record ‘opportunism’? The head of the party who’s mascot is the jackass!” Pull out every quote in which Dean lauded Kerry’s military record and denigrated George Bush’s military service and ask, “Who’s the opportunist?”

The demanding for apologies is just passive-aggressive whining. Go on offense and use the ridiculous statements of opponents against them. Don’t let them off the hook with insincere and snickering “apologies”. Make them pay for their stupidity every day. And maybe — just maybe — we can get past this victim mentality that has no place in politics.


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Comments

Ed, this was definitely something that needed to be said, wish I had done so first.

doubleplusundead on March 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM

I’m sorry, but I haven’t been online the past 18 hours. Did I miss another apology?

/

JammieWearingFool on March 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

“I’m sorry that you were offended.”

misterpeasea on March 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

U.S.S.S. – United States of Sesame Street

Quite a sorry state of affairs.

Metro on March 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM

right on, Ed.
the RNC should beg you to consult their sorry a**es.

jimmer on March 29, 2008 at 10:46 AM

Amen, Captain Ed. Every time I think the repubs are gonna go after and pound away at something the dems say or do, they derail themselves with another “demand for an apology’ sing along.
No surprise with the dems, though. As I recall, Dole’s service was no big deal, while it also wasn’t important that Bubba didn’t serve, and was a drat dodger to boot.

tomk59 on March 29, 2008 at 10:47 AM

I meant draft dodger. Drat!

tomk59 on March 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM

I demand an apology from the makers of 10,000 B.C., and from the cook that made the slop that gave me the squirts that one time, and from myself for eating it.

Oh, and I apologize if I offended anyone with this post.

p40tiger on March 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM

I’m sorry. Why are we apologizing again? So sorry if I missed something and offended anyone. Again, sorry about that.

Sugar Land on March 29, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Somewhere along the line, someone decided that there is a “Right not to be offended”…

Not sure where that is in the Constitution, but it shows up daily in the media, and is now being Legaly forced by Europes hate speech legislation, and the UN HRC…

Part of MY Freedom of Speech, is to be offensive if I wish… Part of YOUR Freedom of Speech is to call me an asshat for doing so, and proove me wrong….

But this whole “offended” thing is getting pretty silly, and it… offends me…

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 10:57 AM

It’s much more effective to point out that the jackass is a jackass, and in Dean’s case, it’s enormously easy to do. Leave the whining to the professionals.

BTW, your second link is snafu’d, Ed. Should be this, I think.

Pablo on March 29, 2008 at 11:00 AM

Denouncing is way chic, though. and I preemptively denounce this entire thread for any offensive things that may or may not be said, to the degree of offense taken by any and all parties.

Pablo on March 29, 2008 at 11:02 AM

Here! Here!! You’ve stated this brilliantly!

becki51758 on March 29, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Maybe we could start an apology bank, where both sides would start the general election campaign with a certain number of “offense credits.” As the outrages pour forth, the account of the outagor could be debited, and the account of the outragee could be credited with a like amount.

At the end of the campaign the side with the net apology owing could then make one apology to the creditor, thereby replacing the current endless cycle of demands and apologies for one stupid symbolic apology at the very end of the campaign.

Cicero43 on March 29, 2008 at 11:04 AM

Excellent commentary Ed.

Talon on March 29, 2008 at 11:05 AM

Heh. Cicero43, that bank would be bankrupt in about 18 seconds.

tomk59 on March 29, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Cicero43 on March 29, 2008 at 11:04 AM

They already do that in political circles… how many times did we hear Dems spout the “but Bush gave a speech at Jones Univercity” line when talking about Obama and Wright?

Romeo13 on March 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Unfortunately, this follows candidate McLame’s own policy of “We musn’t say anything about our opponents that may sound mean.” God I wish we had a better candidate.

Well said, Captain Ed!

rmgraha on March 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Are you as sick of the knee-jerk demands for apologies as I am?

Very much so regardless of who’s doing the demanding. Try to pressure someone to apologize so that you can beat them over the head with it at a later time when it’s politically convienent is lame at best.

As well as demanding someone “denounce” something or someone. What happens if they don’t? Nothing, nothing at all. At one time, nearly every single politician serving during 9-11 attacks denounced terrorism, and now nearly half of them want to surrender to terrorism.

I would prefer that Repulicans instead would just point out things they differ on with the Democrats and use that to give voters a clear understanding of who they are voting for and why.

Hog Wild on March 29, 2008 at 11:15 AM

I totally agree and did write about it last week.
The apology thing is so played out and laughable.
Everyone wants an apology and the people that should be giving apologies are the ones who aren’t.

Conservatives R Us on March 29, 2008 at 11:16 AM

“I’m sorry that you were offended.”

misterpeasea on March 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Very close. “I’m sorry if you were offended.”

Or the gag-worthy apology of the month: “I apologize. I let myself down.” /Spitzer

Great post, Ed. Right on!

inviolet on March 29, 2008 at 11:25 AM

BTW the screencap on the front page is pure awesomeness. hahahaha

inviolet on March 29, 2008 at 11:26 AM

You’re right Ed. But before we turn the page, I think both political parties need to apologize to We the People for offering up the three jackasses we now have to listen to for the rest of the year.

Zorro on March 29, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Sorry, Zorro, but we the people allowed things to get to the point where we have only the 3 stooges running for prez. If we’re waiting for an apology for that, we need to be waiting in front of a mirror.

tomk59 on March 29, 2008 at 11:35 AM

The demanding for apologies is just passive-aggressive whining. Go on offense and use the ridiculous statements of opponents against them. Don’t let them off the hook with insincere and snickering “apologies”. Make them pay for their stupidity every day.

Exactly.

Dean having the chutzpah to call McCain a blatant opportunist should have been met with doubled over laughter instead of faux outrage.

Buy Danish on March 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

PA hasn’t voted yet.

Zorro on March 29, 2008 at 11:58 AM

I demand an apology for Lemon Coke(those bas*ards)!

christophercube on March 29, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Lemon coke? Well, I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

tomk59 on March 29, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Carville got it right. Still a Clinton pimp though.

leanright on March 29, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I demand an apology for Lemon Coke(those bas*ards)!

christophercube on March 29, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Yeah. Right after they apologize for “New Coke.”

CyberCipher on March 29, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Sorry about that last comment.

CyberCipher on March 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM

GOD must apologize for LIBERALS. Only a GOD with a sense of humor would create such a laugh. I’m sorry to Mary Catherine for constantly pulling her hair in 5th grade. I’m sorry that you are sorry, that he is sorry, and she is sorry for this post!!! Oh, don’t like Carville, but at least he did’t do a MEA CULPA.

pueblo1032 on March 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM

On one occasion where I agreed with Bill Maher, he made a point about the “outrage” many express when someone says something that could be interpreted in a less-than-PC way. He said, “Nobody’s really outraged.” It’s just like a game.

mikeyboss on March 29, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Brilliantly stated.

q2600 on March 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Partly the result of two+ generations of “Don’t be mean, ‘cuz were ALL speshul” government education.

eeyore on March 29, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Exactly right you are Ed.

4shoes on March 29, 2008 at 1:36 PM

And maybe — just maybe — we can get past this victim mentality that has no place in politics.

PC is ruining us, Ed… our society, politics and culture. It’s making us a nation of victims. Wuss nations rot from within. Just as Gramsci said, PC can overtake a culture, and thereby bring down a nation that no foreign army in the world would be strong enough to defeat by military force.

petefrt on March 29, 2008 at 1:38 PM

“the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn’t understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years.”

Exactly, Dr. Dean, which is why we’re NOT voting for Obama.

AZCoyote on March 29, 2008 at 2:10 PM

My apologies if it seems like I’m ass-kissing, but I agree.

Are we on our way tothis level of remorse…?

CliffHanger on March 29, 2008 at 2:11 PM

Best Ed-thread evah, because you speak for me 100% on this topic.

Are you as sick of the knee-jerk demands for apologies as I am?

Yes, indeed. I said so on the James Carville thread, when I lauded him for standing his ground. “An oak tree is a nut which stood its ground”. Sissies, on the left and the right, for sure. Most say stupid things, beyond imagination, then fake an apology, and we’re supposed to move on, as if nothing happened. See also nitwits in the media.

There are apologies, and there are ‘apologies’, and there is a place/time/style for the real ones. In politics, or on these threads, often, it’s best to just elegantly attack the expressed idiocy/stupidity.

Thank you Ed, for eloquently, and objectively, bringing this to the fore.

Entelechy on March 29, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Hear! Hear! Captain Ed. We need to stop sniveling, and get on with life. Instead of playing the game of acting offended and asking for an apology, just go out and whack ‘em with the truth. If they are uncomfortable with it, that’s too bad.

I don’t want an apology from Mrs. Clinton for her memory loss regarding Bosnia. Keep speaking m’am, loud and clear, and we’ll point out the errors. I don’t want an apology from Senator Obama for his pastor. Anyone can listen to Rev. Wright’s words and decide for himself. He’s Rev. Wrong as far as I’m concerned, and anyone who stays in such a congregation seems to have suspect values. Let him who has ears hear.

Senator McCain, don’t waste your time or ours asking for an apology. Just drive on and don’t worry about the dental bills of the ankle-biting critics. They are very small people indeed.

Orson Buggeigh on March 29, 2008 at 2:44 PM

What an insensitive thing to say, Mr. Morrissey! I demand a public apology immediately.

Tzetzes on March 29, 2008 at 2:59 PM

Amen. I am so sick of all these whining demands for an apology. My first thought to this is “bite me,” but the Captain’s suggested response is, of course, much better.

student on March 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM

Excellent article on this topic – Richardson is still Judas.

Entelechy on March 29, 2008 at 3:27 PM

In the PC totalitarian culture, demanding your apology is but the first step. Next you’ll be required to submit to a period of rehabilitation therapy — sensitivity training, diversity counseling, and multi-culturalism re-education camp.

Now that we’ve allowed them so much power over us, is resistance futile?

petefrt on March 29, 2008 at 5:46 PM

Damn right, Ed. As far as I’m concerned, an apology means you recognize what you did was wrong and pledge not to do it again in the same circumstances. Does anyone believe Dean wouldn’t say the same hypocritical, asinine things if the same circumstances arose again in 4 years?

McCain should have held a press conference to respond to Dean, read the above quote “from a prominent public figure” in his defense, and left without taking any questions or saying who made the quote. Let the press figure it out.

Socratease on March 29, 2008 at 6:53 PM

CyberCipher on March 29, 2008 at 12:57 PM
Hey… did you just age yourself?
I’m sorry to say this but you owe yourself an apology.
(New Coke… remember the sheer chaos, the riots, the frantic lunacy, the friggin un-stocked shelves at the grocery? Classic Coke rules! POWER2THE PEOPLE!)

christophercube on March 29, 2008 at 8:05 PM

That’s it? He called you a “Blatant opportunist”?
That’s not even really an insult. All politicians are opportunists, like wolves, or leopards. They sense weakness and go for the kill.

Capitana on March 29, 2008 at 8:43 PM

christophercube on March 29, 2008 at 8:05 PM
(uh, oops.)
Hey… did you just date yourself?
A thousand apologies…

christophercube on March 30, 2008 at 12:47 AM

While we honor McCain’s military service

That’s a lie right there. No liberal democrat ever honored military service.
As for using his military service politically, Howie had no problem when John “Reporting For Duty” Kerry was doing it.

abcurtis on March 30, 2008 at 8:11 AM

I demand an apology from the makers of 10,000 B.C., and from the cook that made the slop that gave me the squirts that one time, and from myself for eating it.

Oh, and I apologize if I offended anyone with this post.

p40tiger on March 29, 2008 at 10:49 AM

I apologize for being offended by your post.

theregoestheneighborhood on March 30, 2008 at 11:30 AM