Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Giving apologia a bad name

I've kvetched before about the faddish love of apologies--demanding them from others, not necessarily delivering them oneself--that's taken over the pop/political scene in recent years.

Here's a specimen recently added to my collection:
Senator McCain, who, unlike Senator Clinton, fervently supports the war and the surge, is morbidly aware of his predicament. This once-ebullient politician has been off his game since a conspicuously listless January "Meet the Press" appearance; on Thursday, he had to publicly apologize after telling David Letterman, in an unguarded moment of genuine straight talk, that American lives were being "wasted" in Iraq. (Barack Obama had already spoken the same truth and given the same pro forma apology.)

I'm designating this particular phenomenon Nothstine's Corollary to Kinsley's Law of Gaffes: No one expects a politician to apologize for telling a lie, but they will often demand an apology for telling the truth.

This was, by any measure, a bad week for the apology as a rhetorical genre. First, power-brokering, bigoted sextagenarian Don Imus coughed up this sad 21-second hairball of an apology:

(By the way--am I the only one in America who found it very, very odd that every news or entertainment source reporting on this story, including those calling for his head, has made a specific point of repeating the three-word phrase that caused such offense and finally cost him his job? What--is it only offensive when Imus says it?)

Imus later groused that, having apologized, he was in no mood to apologize further. No word if he expressed regret and contrition for his refusal to express regret and contrition, although I'm certain someone asked.

Still, however insincere and unconvincing (and, ultimately, ineffective) his apology, at least Imus took a shot at it.

But from the ungracious Nancy Grace, not so much as a sausage of remorse:

Way to go, Nance. Nothing says "mea culpa" like a last-minute guest host.

(Almost forgot: TDS screen shot via Crooks and Liars. Sorry.)

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