The non-apology apology: Yet another relic of Bill Clinton’s eight years in the White House, and something we’re seeing a lot of this presidential election season. Ironically, the most interesting of the feigned regrets being offered up these days are being directed toward his wife’s own presidential campaign team.
The latest comes from MSNBC, where anchor David Schuster is apologizing after suggesting that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had "pimped out" her 27-year-old daughter Chelsea by having her contact celebrities and Democrat "super delegates" to urge their support for her mother.
Momma Clinton got mad. Really mad. She’s now threatening to boycott future campaign appearances on the cable news network. Her communications director, Howard Wolfson, is describing Schuster’s comment as "beneath contempt," telling reporters, "I, at this point, can’t envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network."
Schuster has been temporarily suspended for his remarks. Network executives have eagerly apologized, fearful that Hillary will back out of a planned Feb. 26 MSNBC debate in Ohio. But this isn’t all that is angering the Clinton camp. Several weeks ago, MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews suggested that Hillary’s political career was only made possible by her husband’s philandering. Like Schuster, Matthews also apologized.
But why? Both men were expressing a viewpoint shared by many Americans.
In both cases, there was admittedly a better choice of words that could have been used. But the truth is the truth. And here, the truth is that it was Hillary — and not Schuster or Matthews — who injected her personal life into the national dialogue on her candidacy.
This is, after all, a woman who just last month went onto the "Tyra Banks Show" where she freely discussed her husband’s adultery. When asked by Banks how his affairs impacted her, she said, "I never doubted Bill’s love for me ever, and I never doubted my faith and my commitment to our daughter and our extended family."
This was an attempt to soften the cold image most Americans have of Hillary. Long aware of this perception, she has never missed an opportunity to trot her daughter out at campaign appearances to remind attendees that there is a softer side to the angry woman that entered our homes through our television sets nearly two decades ago. The message is clear. Hillary can use her family for political gain, but no one is allowed to criticize her for it.
When it comes to the proper semantics of apologies, Hillary’s dear husband taught us the language of "regret." He regrets when people are offended, he regrets when people get hurt. He rarely if ever, however, utters the three simple words, "I am sorry."
In American politics today, apologies are thrown around so frequently that their sincerity must be questioned. If Schuster and Matthews believed what they were saying, they should have stood their ground instead of giving into the victimology of the Clinton machine.
If there is anything Bill Clinton has taught us, it’s that you can apologize without meaning it. So, in an effort to forgo this tempting legacy of our nation’s forty-second president, let me say just this to Mrs. Clinton. I am not — repeat — not sorry, if anything I have said here has offended you.