In a Vicious Campaign Year, Apologies Are in the Air
These days, politics means always having to say you’re sorry.
At least that’s how it seems in an election year when petty insults, immature taunts and vicious attacks are distributed with reckless abandon, then taken back almost as quickly.
Democratic campaign officials make an unusual apology to Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino magnate who has been spending millions of dollars to help elect Republican candidates for federal office.
Though apologies have long been a part of Washington’s political discourse, there has been a recent rush of groveling by both political parties as a 2012 campaign defined by the smallness of the day-to-day debate heads into the homestretch.
In the past two weeks alone, the Democratic National Committee apologized to Ann Romney over a television ad that mocked her ownership of an Olympic dressage horse; Republican operative John Sununu apologized for suggesting that President Obama was un-American; Obama’s communications director apologized to a conservative writer Charles Krauthammer for a blog post attacking one of his columns; Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, apologized for telling reporters to “kiss my a—” during a trip overseas; and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee apologized to conservative casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for falsely implying that he knew of prostitution at one of his casinos in Macau.
“Frankly, I made a mistake,” Sununu said on July 17 after telling reporters in a conference call arranged by the Romney campaign that he wished Obama “would learn how to be an American.”
Sununu, the former chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush, added: “I shouldn’t have used those words. And I apologize for using those words.”
A day later, it was the Democrats’ turn to say sorry. As the Olympics were about to get underway in London, the DNC pulled its offending dressage-related ad off the airwaves after Ann Romney said the family’s horse was used to help in her therapy for multiple sclerosis.
“Our use of the Romneys’ dressage horse was not meant to offend Mrs. Romney in any way, and we regret it if it did,” DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse told ABC News.
But does the string of mea culpas reflect a sudden surge of self-policing by the nation’s political class, who are so often accused of failing to hold themselves accountable for their conduct?
Or is this wave simply the fallout of the new social media climate, where rapid-fire insults have become the norm and have led to a new spate of unvarnished — and often regrettable — reactions in the moment