He’s searched his soul and concluded that his remarks really weren’t innocent after all. The boss accuses KP of wrongly insisting yesterday that Hillary had denounced Johnson’s comments. Is she right? To the best of my googling ability, yup. Bill Clinton distanced the campaign from the dispute afterward by claiming it was “something between Bob Johnson and Barack Obama” and Hillary put out a general press release three days ago lamenting the fact that certain things that had been said over the past week “do[] not reflect what is in our hearts.” That’s probably what Kirsten has in mind; if you want to take it as a denunciation, feel free. Although remember, it was Team Clinton that issued Johnson’s initial feeble “who, me?” excuse, which would appear to mean that they thought — or hoped we’d think — he had nothing to apologize for.

Surprising to see this come so close to the primary, though, as it puts it back on everyone’s radar screen. I wonder if it caught Hillary off-guard.

Link: sevenload.com

Update (Bryan): Here’s CNN’s take on the apology. I’m still unclear on what Johnson’s apologizing for. Is it for referring obliquely to alluding to Obama’s “community activism?” What would be inappropriate about that?

There must be something about the Clintons that rubs off on everyone around them. Even their apologists apologize dishonestly.

Update: Hold the phone, Kirsten’s right. A commenter points out what Hillary said at the debate on Tuesday night. Granted, Russert had to squeeze it out of her, but even so:

RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, in terms of accountability, you told me on Sunday morning, “Any time anyone has said anything that I thought was out of bounds, they’re gone. I’ve gotten rid of them.”

RUSSERT: Shortly thereafter, that same afternoon, Robert Johnson, at your event, said, quote, “When Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood, that I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book,” widely viewed as a reference to Senator Obama’s book ,”Dreams From My Father” from 1995, where he talked about his drug use as a teenager.

Will you now not allow Robert Johnson to participate in any of your campaign events because of that conduct?

CLINTON: Well, Bob has put out a statement saying what he was trying to say and what he thought he had said. We accept him on his word on that.

But, clearly, we want to send a very clear message to everybody that this campaign is too important for us to either get diverted or, frankly, get the message of what we want to do for our country subverted by any kind of statements or claims that are just not part of who I am or who Barack or John are.

*

RUSSERT: Were his comments out of bounds?

CLINTON: Yes, they were.

CLINTON: And he has said that.

So she accepts his excuse — while acknowledging that what he said was out of bounds? A new milestone in Clintonian nuance.