Monday, February 19, 2007

I’m Sorry. No, Really, I Am

We live in the age of apologies, but here’s a corker:

In South Carolina, African American state senator Robert Ford quickly threw his support to Senator Hillary Clinton, wife of the “first black American president,” Bill Clinton.

The press thought this curious, since Barack Obama, also running for president, is a black American and, if elected to office, would be the second black American president, Hillary's husband being the first. So a reporter asked him about it.

Ford said that if Obama got the nomination, “Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose because he's black and he's top of the ticket. We'd lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything."

In South Carolina, this sort of thing is important.

Naturally, Ford got grief. And after a few days of heavy pelting, he issued the following apology: “If I caused anybody, including myself, any pain about the comments I made earlier, then I want to apologize to myself and to Senator Obama, and any of his supporters."

That apology, thought by some to be a bit self serving, did not sit well with Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun Times. One of Ford’s pals, African American State Senator Darrell Jackson also was effusive about the Hillary campaign after his public relations firm, Sunrise Enterprises, was paid $200K by Hillary to effuse.

In South Carolina, this sort of thing is important.

Mitchell wrote, “Skepticism I understand. But when two black male legislators from the Deep South throw their hats in Hillary Clinton’s ring at the start of a wide-open election, I want to slap them upside their heads. Political leaders like Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson are guarding their political turf in the same way drug dealers guard street corners. But worse, they are hatin' on a brother who dares to believe anything is possible.”

South Carolina politicians are not afraid to state the truth baldly and take their consequences. At CBS News, when Dan Rather ruled the roost, subtlety was king.

Rather was shown the door when he relied on questionable documents sometime after having offered the following apology:

“Now, after extensive additional interviews, I no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow us to continue vouching for them journalistically. I find we have been misled on the key question of how our source for the documents came into possession of these papers. That, combined with some of the questions that have been raised in public and in the press, leads me to a point where-if I knew then what I know now-I would not have gone ahead with the story as it was aired, and I certainly would not have used the documents in question.”

Sometime after President Richard Nixon evicted the longsuffering and heroic Cardinal Josef Mindszenty from the American embassy in Budapest – the cardinal wanted to die in Hungary, where his body would have served as a permanent reproach to his communist overlords – the president, a Quaker bowed low by Watergate, fell on his knees and prayed with Henry Kissinger. His prayer, one assumes, must have been clothed in apologetic garb; whether it was sincere only the God of Cardinal Mindszenty and the Quakers knows for certain.

And then, of course, there are the few, the brave who, acknowledging that they have been wrong, manfully refuse to apologize, much to the annoyance of their friends and enemies.

Hillary Clinton falls, almost alone among Democrats, into this category. Nearly every prominent Democrat who had left his fingerprints on the congressional authorization for the Iraq war has apologized profusely for their error.

Not Hillary .

“Someone ought to tell Hillary that just because she wants to take Bush’s job, it doesn’t mean she needs to adopt his mannerisms too," wrote a critic. "Infallibility may get her a job at the Vatican, but not as US president.”

In apologetics, Hillary might take a lesson from the oleaginous Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, also a presidential candidate. His non-apology includes a varient of the now indispensable standard phrase: If I knew then what I know now…

Thank God for the nutmeggers, so called from their habit of mixing wooden nutmegs in with the real deal to maximize their sales and turn a healthier profit
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