The $%@& President won't Apologize

A New York Times’ writer notes, in what looks like an Op/Ed in effete costume Thursday morning, that President Bush would not apologize at his press conference. The assembled correspondents offered him, gift wrapped, no fewer than five (5) opportunities to do so.

J.F.K., after all, apologized for the Bay of Pigs in 1961, called a special press conference to take that heat: "There is an old saying, that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an opinion. I'm the responsible officer of the government." Kennedy's polls, history records, shot through the roof. Shouldn't then President Bush apologize for September 11? After all, it provided a boost against candidate JF Kerry.

Theatrics! Hey, it worked to sell Dick Clarke's novel. However, the American people should expect their President to be sincere, and President Bush has nothing for which to apologize. He seemed to legitimately struggle Tuesday evening when trying to think of something he would have done differently. He will not force upon himself the blame for something for which he does not think himself responsible.

The Bay of Pigs was a U.S. action, a scheme to liberate Cuba concocted by the administration of President Eisenhower. Why then was President Kennedy responsible for what happened? He was responsible for the execution of the plan: the personnel, the support, the timing, etc. For whatever reasons, it failed to liberate Cuba -- and Kennedy admitted this.

The attacks on America were an action of an international entity, al Qaeda. The President could have staged an apology for not having prevented it, but he could not have thwarted it. It is admirable that the press so wants him to score political points with a disingenuous confession, but this is not in keeping with his view of the presidency.

The Kansas City Star joins in the demand for faux-contrition:

The president acts as if he is being asked to apologize for the terrorist attacks themselves, which is untrue. The attacks were the work of the al-Qaida terrorist network. But it would be reasonable for the president to apologize to the public for the many government failures that left the country far more vulnerable to its enemies than it should have been.

And an apology for the administration's shrill but mistaken assumptions about Iraqi weapons should have been tendered to the public, Congress and the international community a long time ago.

[The editorial can also be read here, on the KRT wire, beneath the Miami Herald editorial.]

In the course of the editorial, the paper opined that the President "fumble[d] questions about past mistakes," was guilty of "confusion, ignorance and buck-passing" and "finger-pointing about the previous administration's mistakes," was behaving "like a schoolboy caught off-guard by a tough question from the teacher," was acting "flustered" and "shrill," and leaving the "impression of extraordinary personal rigidity."

But they are projecting. Witness their offhand reasons why they believe the President should apologize for not doing things differently in Iraq:

- Bush could have demanded better intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs -- or presented the American public and the international community with more realistic appraisals of the uncertain information that was available.
The Administration and the intelligence services, and people from Paul Bremer to Colin Powell, have said repeatedly that they used the "best intelligence available.
- The president should not have issued his premature declaration of victory last year.
He never declared victory. His words aboard the U.S.S. Lincoln were: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended." They had. Many in the press have been all-too-willing to perpetuate a lie about what was actually said. - Bush could have done a better job of determining how many troops were needed in Iraq. The current numbers are clearly insufficient.They are insufficient at least from a journalistic point of view, but have these journalists considered what difference the addition of troops would make? The President filled the military's requests.
- To avoid obvious repercussions in the Islamic world and even in Europe, the president could refrain from citing religious motivations, as he did again on Tuesday, for American actions abroad.
The motivations, however, are religious. The civilized Islamic world knows this as well as does the President. The President cannot stick his head in the sand and pretend things are what they are not, and vice-versa.

This is not the press' finest hour.

Motivation. What do these people think would happen if the President were to apologize, regardless of whether or not he should? Damage. If he apologizes, he loses the backbone of his campaign. A man cannot run for President on a platform of: "I screwed up. Give me another chance." (Jimmy Carter tried this, to an extent, but he was steamrolled in 1980.)

"He's too smug." They want to see the man sweat. It is said that Bill Clinton has privately wished that he had been President on September 11, and that his supporters lament that he "missed his chance for greatness." Perhaps so. Why, then, should Bush have the chance for greatness that was by right Clinton's? (That statement is loaded.)

And this is why President Bush should apologize. Fate gave him President Clinton's opportunity for a genuine legacy. Furthermore, he is handling it nothing like President Clinton would have. Damn him.

Presidential class envy.

Posted by at April 15, 2004 1:44 PM