December 21, 2007

The Sorry State of After You Say You're Sorry

sorrypup2.jpgDANIEL HENNINGER @ The Wall Street Journal has had it up to here with the pols on the trail that slobber out continuous apologies:

"Which wellsprings feed this apology compulsion among modern politicians? As good a place as any to begin is knowing that they fly on "our planes" to the same venue ("the debate") and are able to have meetings "on the tarmac." Can you do that? Instead of picking on the rich, F. Scott Fitzgerald should have said it is the political class that is different from the rest of us."
Morgan Freeberg is likewise peeved:
"There are few things in life I despise more than an apology being trotted out by someone who is, in the moment the apology is being uttered, planning to do that very thing all over again that was the subject of the apology. I realize they don't have to be evil people in order to do this. I realize a lot of them have hearts o'gold. But that just really grates on me like nails on a chalkboard -- apologizing, while fully expecting to do it all over again. If this is really a prerequisite to offering yourself for the nation's highest offices, then God help us all. We are really teetering on the edge of a brink if that is the case."
Well, they both need to suck it up, because this Clintonesque compulsion to apologize is now as fixed in our political heavens as the pole star. Instead, both Henninger and Freeberg need to offer something positive.

As I have here in my one-size-fits-all permanent and all-purpose apology.

The way I see it is that whenever a politician does something impolitic -- just about once everytime they open their mouth these days -- they have to be forced by the media and electorate to read the following out loud at the next campaign stop:

Fellow citizens:
I begin by noting that at present, as so often in the past, I'm sorry. Yes, I am very, very sorry. It was all my fault and I am sorry for it all.

I am sorry, as always, for what I said. It was thoughtless and rude. It wasn't really what I meant or felt in my heart. Many have taken my remarks to mean other than what I said. Why, I even meant them to mean other than what they meant when I said them.

Well, the damage is done and I can't undo the past. All I can do is stand here strapped in the pillory of the present as all those whom I have so wrongly and without malice slandered cry like the little girly-men they are, even the girls. But their pain is now my pain. I cringe to see them writhe with the bleeding agony of those raw wounds I ripped open by my harsh and unconsidered remarks.

I feel really bad about this. I feel even worse that I, through my abject failure to realize how deeply the dull hatchet of my speech would chop into them, even, yea, down to the living blue-veined bone -- that I simply stood by and allowed the burning salt of my senseless scorn to pour without limit into their raw and festering souls. I am, as I said, deeply sorry and feel bad besides.

In passing, I would like to note for the record, that I did not know the gun was loaded.

But I have heard the rising torrent of justifiable outrage; the howls of those whose most sacred, festering and inane ideological beliefs I have eviscerated with the senseless whirring chain-saw of my words. To them I offer, in deep and abject
humility -- since I am, because I spoke those words, lower than a cockroach's stool stuck to the bottom of a homeless hermit's shabby sandal in the storm drains of Las Vegas -- my most sincere if unworthy apology. I have heard the skin-shuddering shrieks of those who have been sliced into bloody gobbets of flesh by my remarks. Though I am unworthy to feel that pain, I feel it still as if it were a red-hot 3/4 inch Makita drill bit driven into the base of my skull and left there set on "Wash-Rinse-Repeat."

True, I am not yet one of those Olympian apologizers such as the oafish and overweight Senate slime-ball Dick Durbin whose driving need to make a drooling apology is noted over 1,000 times in our papers of record. Nor am I even fit to look at the handsome, well turned out, and always intellectually crisp ruler of the known universe Karl Rove who is currently running a distant second in the "We are going to stamp our feet and hold our breath until he apologizes " sweepstakes.

Compared to those two mighty Sweeps leaders in the media's current "You've heard it before and you'll hear it 15,000 times more in 24 hours" approach to information, I am a piker. Hardly anyone has called on me to apologize for anything I've said, except for perhaps my wife when she asked me if her new dress was slimming. Being on the telephone at the time, I told the truth and said I couldn't say since I couldn't see it. She made me apologize for 178 minutes for that remark -- and they weren't night-time, weekend or rollover minutes either.

Nevertheless, we live in such a craven, soft, moist and testosterone-lite society that it would be wise to always be apologizing for something you either have said or may say. In America these days we are a bunch of sorry sons-of-bitches -- male or female -- and we'd best be saying we're sorry all the time.

So, well, I am sorry. I apologize. I didn't think about what I said when I said it. I hurt feelings when all I meant to do was to either maim, kill, or tenderize. I deeply regret that I diminished your self-esteem. I regret even more that I left you alive and able to talk to the news media over the noise of your sucking chest wound.

But since that is the case, please accept these following sentiments as my boilerplate apology, and remember to refer to them often in the decades to come:

I come to you today penitent, conscience-stricken, regretful and contrite. I have been touched by your pain and deeply regret my words. I repent them with every shred of my soul. I am, for having hurt your feelings and bruised your tender buttons, a base and abject man mortified by my cheesy, contemptible, insignificant,. shabby, small, and pathetic being. I know now the low things I have said and I am filled with remorse, melancholy, and self-reproach. If I could have myself flogged fleshless by an flock of Carmelite nuns on Methamphetamine I would so. But I can't locate those sisters right now, so I must continue to apologize.

I therefore continue to apologize.

I am so wretched to have said the bad words to you. They may well have been true, but I forgot that your feelings, no matter how puerile, always trump the truth in this world. So I admit that even though they were true, my words were unworthy of me and hurtful to you. I see your raw suppurating feelings oozing to the top of your mind and erupting from your mouth wrapped around your screams. I shall carry that Polaroid with me for the rest of my days right next to the organ donor card in my wallet. Can I fill one out for you?

But I digress.

I am compelled by my inner idiot to say that I bleed for you, wish only to console you, empathize with you, and open my heart in an anguished lament that my words, wittingly or unwittingly, have raised upon your soul these unlanced boils of your metaphysical angst. It is my hope you will allow me to lance them and to bandage them in the saline soaked cloth of a this apology.

I come before you today an abashed, chagrined, conscience stricken, guilty, shamed, demeaned, crestfallen, humiliated, penitent and mortified man. I can only seek, humbly, that one thing that will make me whole again after ripping the flesh of your feelings so senselessly. That one thing is the infinite balm of your acceptance of this, my guilty apology, and your forgiveness.

In this I hope to be resurrected to the realm of the acceptably human. I live in this hope because I have a deep and abiding faith that although I am really, really sorry, you are the one person in the universe who is a sorrier son-of-a-bitch than I am.

Thank you for letting me share.

Posted by Vanderleun at December 21, 2007 12:30 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Well, they both need to suck it up, because this Clintonesque compulsion to apologize is now as fixed in our political heavens as the pole star. Instead, both Henninger and Freeburg need to offer something positive.

Point taken, blogger-friend. Consider my seeking-out & offering of this link as a public service and private penance.

Sorry about my failure to take the initiative on that. Really, really sorry.

By the way, you misspelled my surname. Whatcha gonna do 'bout it? You know the drill.

Posted by: Morgan K Freeberg at December 21, 2007 1:00 PM

Oh, yeah? Oh, yeah? Well, listen up you sorry son of a bitch, you can just take this post and.....

(Deep breath)

Okay. I fixed it. And I am truly, deeply sorry about that. But I am sorrier still that your sorry set of parents couldn't even get it together enough to spell friggin FreebUrg correctly. And for that I'm even sorrier for you than I am sorry myself. So sorry if you don't think that's good enough.


Posted by: vanderleun at December 21, 2007 1:06 PM

I demand an apology for the time I spent reading that sniviling screed.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at December 22, 2007 8:12 AM

Freeberg and van der Leun,

You two are the sorriest bastards I've ever met.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at December 23, 2007 4:14 AM