An autopsy of an apology

Clinton apologizes to black voters
Associated Press

The New York senator, who is in a tight race with Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, struck several sorry notes at an evening forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group of more than 200 black community newspapers across the country.

Her biggest apology came in response to a question about comments by her husband, Bill Clinton, after the South Carolina primary, which Obama won handily. Bill Clinton said Jesse Jackson also won South Carolina when he ran for president in 1984 and 1988, a comment many viewed as belittling Obama's success.

"I want to put that in context. You know I am sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant in any way to be offensive," Hillary Clinton said. "We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama."

Bad start.
"You know I am sorry if anyone was offended."

Using the qualifier "if" immediately degrades the sincerity of the apology, and creates what I call the "Neutron Apology". This is an apology that expresses regret to a specific group of people who were offended, while leaving the people who agree with the original offensive statement with the understanding that you still agree with them. The apology tacitly states that there are two groups of people, those not offended, and the cry babies who are. Any apology with an "if" in it, is an insincere apology made under duress, kind of like your mom making you apologize to your sister for hitting her, when you are not the least bit sorry.

"If" makes the statement logically conditional. Senator Clinton is only sorry under certain conditions.

Another way of looking at the conditional "if" is that if Bill Clinton's statement offended you, Hillary Clinton is sorry, if they didn't offend you, she is not. Thus in one instance, she regrets the implied racism, in the other she doesn't.

If the use of the Neutron Apology wasn't bad in and of itself, she began the deployment of the apology with a statement about the need to place her husband's offending remarks "in context", another way of saying that the offended party misinterpreted (for reasons of stupidity or malice) the original remark.

If one is going to invoke "context" for Bill Clinton's remark, one must place it into the aggregate context of all of the remarks made by her surrogates that had racist overtones that she was slow and/or reluctant to disclaim.

"Anyone who has followed my husband's public life or my public life know very well where we have stood and what we have stood for and who we have stood with," she said, acknowledging that whoever wins the nomination will have to heal the wounds of a bruising, historic contest.

As the great Lord John Worfin said,


"History is-a made at night.
Character is what you are in the dark."

It is great to fall back on your dedication to black civil rights, but when you are prepared to discard that dedication as soon as it interferes with your ambitions, one wonders how deep that dedication was in the first place. It is also worth noting that it was the Clinton campaign that decided to adopt the Karl Rove playbook, which will necessitate a "healing of wounds" by the eventual winner.
"Once one of us has the nomination there will be a great effort to unify the Democratic party and we will do so, because, remember I have a lot of supporters who have voted for me in very large numbers and I would expect them to support Senator Obama if he were the nominee," she said.

This is the first admirable statement in the entire apology.

Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser Geraldine Ferraro gave up her honorary position with Clinton's campaign after she said in an interview last week that Obama would not have made it this far if he were white. Obama said Ferraro's remarks were "ridiculous" and "wrong-headed."

Of Ferraro's comment, Hillary Clinton told her audience: "I certainly do repudiate it and I regret deeply that it was said. Obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions, and she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee."

The word we were looking for was "denounce", not "repudiate".

re·pu·di·ate: to reject as untrue or unjust

de·nounce: to pronounce, especially publicly, someone or something to be blameworthy or evil

Ferraro's comments are certainly "unjust" and "untrue", but they are more so "blameworthy" and "evil".

The fact that Ferraro then went on to defend her vile comments on Bill O'Reilly was absolutely reprehensible.

rep·re·hen·si·ble: deserving censure

Ferraro was basically one step removed from appearing at the podium with George Bush and attacking Obama.

And before anyone starts bitching that I am over analyzing the apology, I would remind you that we ARE dealing with a politician and a lawyer. It's what they actually said, not what you think they said, that matters.

Overall, I have to give this apology a D+. My first impression was a D-, but her exhortation of her supporters to stand with Obama should he win the nomination, raised it from being the least possible apology to a lackluster apology.

The true sincerity of the apology will be indicated by what happens next at Team Clinton HQ.

Comments

/cheer

i for one approve this message. it's good to see that hillary's "apology" gave someone other than me a bad case of indigestion.

The reason her apology was "lackluster"

is because Hillary is also "lackluster" and interested only in returning to the glory of the White House and all it's perq's and power and the monies it will allow them to siphon off...

Her campaign is, generally speaking, one set of lies after another with cherry-picked details of past programs and proximity presented as "experience."

I'm all for a woman in the White House...but not this woman.

Stan Bozarth

woman in the white house

I totally agree with this:

I'm all for a woman in the White House...but not this woman.

I would love to see a woman in the white house, but as I often jokingly say, i can't give Obama a sex change operation.

That's great. I agree

That's great. I agree completely with all the above posters.

I think it will be detrimental to future women in the White House to have Hillary win this election. Everything she does will be stereotyped as what a woman would do as president.

I disagree with this premise

it will be detrimental to future women in the White House to have Hillary win this election

We've had 43 men in the White House...crooks, misanthropes, and ne'er-do-wells among them and it has not been detrimental to future men serving in the White House.

me too

Both Democratic candidates, one way or the other, will advance the standing of future women in the White House.

Also, now the the writer's strike is over, someone really ought to come up with the pilot for a sitcom entitled "Future Women." It can be like "Sex in the City" but with ray guns and robots.

- - - - -
McCain - The Third Bush Term

I want to be with you on this Jerimee.

I want to believe that. Mrs. Clinton has a long way to go to win back any confidence I had in her. I will support her, should she some how win her way to the nomination of our party. But the fiasco that her campaign has been for the past few weeks has truly soured me. Granted, I've been an Obama supporter basically since Edwards dropped out. But I have always been willing to support enthusiastically the nominee of the party. Clinton makes me rethink that stance.

I truly want to be with you, though. Convince me.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Sen. Clinton's election would be a challenge

We would have a Hell of a fight on our hands against the Noise Machine, who I agree, will do everything possible to smear her at every turn (though I think that the tactic is not aging well, as people are getting hip to the practice).

I don't think it would be detrimental to women because I don't think the next woman to run after Hillary will make the same mistakes she's made.

Liberalism as a badge of honor! No excuses, no apologies.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

I believe

Hillary is qualified to serve in the White House. And I find women's willingness to engage in misogynistic activity here and elsewhere somewhat puzzling. But I guess feminism is no longer as popular as it was during the 1980s. And by the way, what qualifies Obama for office?

Since When...

...did not supporting Hillary Clinton become equivalent to "[engaging] in misogynistic activity?"

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

I am a staunch Hillary supporter,

and I notice her detractors regularly claim she is a terrible representative of women. And it is this attempt to render Hillary as flawed as a result of her inability to attain others' phantasmatic ideals of "woman" that I find quintessentially misogynistic.

My wife and I have this argument daily

She grudgingly supports Hillary, and that grudging support is 100% because Hillary is a woman.

Woman or not, Hillary's apology sucked. It would have she even if she had been a salamander.

Woman or not...

I can't stand her and don't trust her. That said, I could still see voting for her if there were no better alternatives.

Fortunately, I know of this guy Obama who I have a serious man-crush on.

If you're a staunch Hillary supporter you must not care

about the truth. When Bill pardoned Marc Rich during the last hours of his presidency (along with @140 others including Rodham/Clinton relatives) Rich was indicted but convicted of nothing nor had he (obviously) served any time. He was not eligible for a presidential pardon...but Bill did it anyway and Rich's wife donated #480K to his library and $70k to Hillary's Senate campaign...and then took the 5th when testifying before Congress..specifically when asked if she "purchased" the pardon. There's more...and just like Bush, the Clinton's weren't found guilty of anything but "bad judgement" That's the power of the Presidency in action.

The Clinton's are crooks...pure and simple...and I wouldn't trust either of them to say or do anything that wasn't in their own best interests...ever.

Clinton supporters, fully aware of all this, continue to support her as if these things don't matter. Why?

Stan Bozarth

*sigh*

I would agree with you that the Clinton's have exhibited extremely poor judgment on quite a few occasions, but I don't see them as crooks.

For example, I seriously question Clinton's judgment and self-respect for kissing up to Rush Limbaugh. As I said, some prices are too high.

Another reason to oppose a Clinton presidency is that I don't want to relive the non-stop warfare of the 90's from the Right.

Liberalism as a badge of honor! No excuses, no apologies.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

Has it really come to this?

Not to mention that Bill is a proven liar and womanizing predator.

Did I miss something here? Should I have been reading all those bullshit diaries at kos, so I could keep up with this stuff properly?

I tell you what, folks. If we keep this shit up, we're going to be sitting around in November with our head in our hands wondering what the hell happened.

Seen this first hand

I have seen this happen before. In 2004, the Green Party was splintered by a nominating battle. This battle neutered the party and between Nader and Cobb, their combined vote total was less than 1%. The divisions that were created then still exist today and it is looking like the same thing will happen again this year.

"jump in where you can and hang on"
Briscoe Darling to Sheriff Andy

You know, I have no problem

hyper-analyzing a Democratic candidate's platform or voting record to see if they are what they say they are, or if they're what we want them to be, etc.

But allowing ourselves to be distracted by the media's opinion of what's important is a mistake. It's steeped in sensationalism, innuendo and emotion, and it (usually) only feeds prejudicial preconceived notions of morality.

We need to never forget that's how we ended up with the current President. If we push morality to the forefront of our decision-making process, we're sidelining a whole bunch of important criteria.

Morality: of or pertaining to principles of right and wrong...

The core principles of decent human behavior are important in evaluating who we want to lead this country. You likely wouldn't associate with or respect people who routinely lie, cheat, or take advantage of others or use their position for their own enrichment when their actions are clearly not in the interest of their fellow citizens. Why would such people be considered fit to lead a nation...regardless of their campaign promises or platform?

Let's not get confused...there's a big difference in "morality" as dictated by religious wackos and their rules and often strange beliefs, and the basics of honesty, justice, and decent behavior towards and consideration of one's fellow man. I know you know that...I just want to be clear, because you used the word "morality."

If anyone thinks the Clinton's past behaviors are above reproach and meet the standards of decent behavior, then I encourage them to go forth and delve into or debate Hillary's programs and promises versus Obama's, etc. If, on the other hand, one thinks it hardly matters what she says because her past indicates her word is meaningless, then there is little reason to debate her programs versus someone else's.

If we're sitting around in November with a result we don't like, no one will need to wonder why. It will be because the media screwed the American public by not presenting the facts and by turning the election process into a carnival sideshow....and because too many Americans were too lazy to find the facts for themselves....or chose to look the other way.

Stan Bozarth

Let's not get confused?

Hold on . . .

"

Let's not get confused...there's a big difference in "morality" as dictated by religious wackos and their rules and often strange beliefs, and the basics of honesty, justice, and decent behavior towards and consideration of one's fellow man. I know you know that...I just want to be clear, because you used the word "morality."

Sometimes I get the impression from comments on this blog that what makes the "big difference" is who is saying it about whom, not what the alleged breach of this "morality" we all supposedly understand actually is.

The holier-than-thou 'tude isn't limited to "religious wackos," by any stretch. I've seen it here quite recently. And as for the labeling, I don't think we would all agree on what "art," is what "good writing" is, what a "religious whacko" is or what "morality" is, and for that matter, what a "true" liberal or progressive is.

Once you've told someone that he or she must not "care" about truth or decency because that person is supporting Clinton, you've outed yourself as either 1) carried away by the emotion of the moment or 2) a sloppy thinker or 3) someone who hasn't thought very deeply about the differences in perspectives that intelligent, caring, thoughtful people have.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

i agree

we obviously feel very passionately about our chosen candidates and their issues, and that's what's awesome about this election. it's getting people excited, it's getting people involved, and it's getting people to vote.

but regardless of anyone's personal devotion to either camp, to assume that anyone else who disagrees is wrong or misinformed or embracing prejudices or whatever is counter-productive at best and ignorant at worst. while the two camps sit around calling each other names and throwing around accusations, mccain is getting mad foreign relations props by visiting other countries and winning over moderates and undecideds who are tired of all the petty fighting on the dem side. unless we want another four years of the right's backwards policies, we need to put our big girl panties (or big boy boxers) on and act like the rational, intelligent adults we are. we've lived through the worst eight years in recent history, and it's not going to get any better unless we work together to change things.

t'anks, Bluesteph

I call 'em as I see 'em, and some folks think that unless you go along with the crowd, you ain't right.

I don't go 'long with the crowd, and I'm proud of my liberal/progressive creds~

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
-Edmund Burke

Right and wrong quantified:

The core principles of decent human behavior are important in evaluating who we want to lead this country.

Judging whether someone's behavior is decent is still, at its core, a subjective evaluation. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians is considered by many Americans to be the "price you pay" for earning your freedom, and totally justifiable. Other Americans believe it's one of the greatest human catastrophes of our age, and those responsible should be considered mass murderers.

Which of those two extremes would you say you lean towards?

In a head-to-head comparison of strictly personal moral behavior, George W. Bush would beat Bill Clinton hands-down. No contest. But in the wider view of which President was more humane and positively impacted the world at large, the results are quite different.

I know you know that...I just want to be clear, because you used the word "morality."

Morality is a human construct, Stan, and one that we tend to "personalize" by viewing it in the lowest common denominator. We can't compare ourselves to a world leader, but we can compare ourselves to a husband, father, wife, mother, etc. It might be a comfortable way to choose our leaders, but I don't believe it is a "wise" way.

Where?

Did I miss where someone said that? Can you point it out to me?

Let's be clear: if it was Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer or Louise Slaughter or Debbie Stabenow who was running for President, this would be a much tougher decision for me (want to guess what all those women have in common?).

But since it's Hillary.

Well, we all know how I feel about that.

I don't think it has anything to do with her being any less of a woman, I think it has something to do with her being less of a progressive Democrat.

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

and yet,

she is the only candidate who offers universal health care.

And yet still...

She thinks she'll get it by taking more money from the Health Care lobby than any candidate in the field, Democrat or Republican.

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

and lobbyists

for pharma ran obama's campaign in new hampshire. and obama is deploying the harry and louise motif in an attempt to make it impossible for anyone to implement universal health care in this country. but republican tropes, i guess, are suddenly "progressive."

BOTH candidates are tainted by lobbyiest money

Every candidate will be until we change the system to a publicly financed one.

Liberalism as a badge of honor! No excuses, no apologies.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

Her "universal health care plan" from my reading of it

will do more to break small businesses. She believes that people making 100,000 a year a "middle class". She does not recognize the struggle of the vast majority of Americans who make less than that. She does not recognize that there are many employers who cannot afford to offer 401k plans or health plans. Like so many *cough* republicans, she assumes that they can.

I am the director of a fairly small non profit agency. Personnel is our largest expense. After salary, the largest cost is health care (which we provide for our employees) and after that it is our retirement plan. While she's talking about making health care mandatory, we're talking about dropping it. Why? Because the costs keep going up. In the almost 8 years since I've been Executive Director, the costs have increased; our revenue, despite our best efforts, have not. It's the whole blood from a stone thing.

We want to do the right thing for our employees. We want to provide decent a decent retirement package. We want to provide health insurance that is worth having. It's a matter of being able to afford to.

I believe Obama's plan will allow us to afford to provide the same or better health insurance for our employees - for a decreased cost, which will free up a larger portion of our budget for actual services. (A non-profit spending money on services? Damn! Imagine that!)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I cannot speak for anyone else

but setting aside the rabid supporters from both sides who see their candidate as infallible, I, and many of Sen. Clinton's critics do not take issue with her being a woman, nor do we see her as "a terrible representative of women". I disagreed with the commenter above and don't see his view as common amongst her critics.

Yes, some people do make such remarks, but to class all of her critics this way is an error.

Liberalism as a badge of honor! No excuses, no apologies.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

It's not mysogyny to not support Hillary.

I don't support her because I find her campaign tactics dishonest, I don't like the way she voted on the Iraq War, and she doesn't have as much experience as she claims she does. I think that she takes credit for things that she didn't do - like the peace in Northern Ireland. ::eyeroll::

She has 8 years in elected office, as opposed to Senator Obama's 11 years in elected office. I find his campaign tactics show integrity.

This is not a matter of gender to me, nor is it a matter of race. It's a matter of honesty and who I believe would be the best President of the United States.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

you are very free

to believe and vote however you choose. but the fact that you automatically assume that all opposition to another clinton presidency is misogynistic is both narrow-minded and insulting. are you watching fox news or something?

i am a woman. i consider myself to be a feminist. i contribute both time and money to feminist causes, including those, such as the national organization of women, who support hillary clinton in her candidacy. my feelings regarding clinton as a potential president, however, have absolutely nothing to do with her vagina and everything to do with what i've seen and researched of her as a politician. i've based my decision on what i've learned of both candidates, as i hope you and every person who casts a vote has done or will do. you may disagree with all of us women who aren't voting for hillary, but don't you dare accuse us of misogyny...that is on a parallel with me calling you a racist because you're not voting for obama.

(sorry to flame...i'm just getting sick and tired of hearing the two camps accuse each other of misogyny and racism rather than focusing on what each candidate could bring to the office.)

(btw, charlotteobserver, maybe you should read this: http://hnn.us/articles/47143.html)

(just sayin'.)

Sorry, I must respectfully disagree

Refusing to support Senator Clinton for president in no way means I, or any other critic, is a misogynist, and it's rather insulting for someone to make that assumption. Although I couldn't vote in the election, I was a supporter of Mary Robinson, the president of Ireland, and numerous female American politicians such as Shirley Chisolm, Carol Mosley Braun, and yes, Geraldine Ferraro.

Liberalism as a badge of honor! No excuses, no apologies.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

Racism and sexism exist

Racism and sexism exist because of the same kind of mindset. It REALLY bothers me that Clinton’s campaign, faced with an almost impossible hill to climb to win the nomination with the remaining states’ delegates (only two big ones left, Penn and NC), have decided they must step up the divisive wedge politics.

Every day that the Democrats continue to argue over what is worse, sexism or racism, or who got where because of their backgrounds and identity, when in fact both candidates have excellent experience and ample support because of their talents, is another day McCain is closer to winning in November to continue the Bush legacy.

I worry that this whole controversy is a tactic to win in Penn and mitigate their losses in NC, both of which have large white rural areas that she needs. And when asked, the Clinton staffers blamed this whole mess on Obama. The similarity to Bush/Rove strategy is striking. This is exactly the opposite of how the next president needs to behave. We’ve seen what this kind of poor leadership can do.

my sister had it coming

. . . kind of like your mom making you apologize to your sister for hitting her, when you are not the least bit sorry.

Yeah but my sister had it coming, she would deliberately antagonize me by mixing my carefully sorted Legos all together, and then pretend it was an accident. Also, I still have a scar on my hand from where she bit me!

- - - - -
McCain - The Third Bush Term