Many lawmakers took a lesson from Trump’s survival, says historian Julian Zelizer, a professor at Princeton University. “The media cycle is now so fast, there’s a realistic assumption that if you just wait it out, eventually the media will move on to something else,” he says. “What feels like a total frenzy in the moment ends, and all of a sudden it’s yesterday’s news.”
Zelizer says many Democrats have also come to regret moving so quickly in 2017 to force out Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who resigned within weeks of accusations of having groped and kissed a fellow performer on a USO tour years earlier, after other women said he had also behaved inappropriately during photo ops…
Frank Newport, former editor-in-chief of Gallup polling, says the public apology may be a victim of the rise in partisan polarization since the early 2000s. Polls show that many voters now back elected officials from the same party no matter what, Newport says, giving them a base of support that politicians in years past did not have, along with an easy out for any accusations. “The highly polarized environment makes it easier for politicians and public officials to transfer blame,” he says. “Everything is us against them, and that makes it quite easy to attribute causality for almost anything negative to the other side.”
America may be becoming more like the rest of the world. The classic public apology was always uniquely American, Bauer says, and leaders of other countries have rarely had to go through the same ritual.