Hillary Clinton And The Amazing Wingnutty Media Apology Trap

The most overused adjective of the 2016 presidential election cycle so far has got to be the term “Outsider.” The media is thoroughly infatuated with the notion of alleged outsiders dominating the campaign season and crushing their “establishment” rivals. It’s a stark turnaround from their prior position that political neophytes (i.e. President Obama) are unqualified to assume leadership roles in government.

Hillary Clinton

These outsiders have been granted broad leeway to do and say things that ordinarily would sink any other campaign. And in today’s environment the most admirable response when caught making a formerly fatal faux pas is to double down and, by no means, apologize. Notable among the remorseless on the right is Donald Trump who has insulted Latinos by calling them criminals and rapists; dishonored veterans by saying that POWs are not heroes; pretends to be pious while insisting that he doesn’t have to ask for forgiveness because he never does anything wrong; and displays blatant misogyny aimed at any woman who challenges him. In all of these, and many other, incidents he has refused to apologize or even acknowledge that his words or actions may have been inappropriate or hurtful.

But Trump is not alone. Many of the Republican candidates are guilty of this. Mike Huckabee refused to apologize after a despicable and insensitive Holocaust reference that Obama’s deal with Iran “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Ben Carson never apologized for likening ObamaCare to slavery. Jeb Bush repeatedly used the pejorative term “anchor baby” without lament (which he got from Trump). In the last presidential race Mitt Romney actually published a book titled “No Apologies.”

So it is rather disingenuous now for Republicans, and most of the media, to be obsessed with whether or not Hillary Clinton will apologize for having used a private email address. In just the past week she has been asked this question by NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and again by the Associated Press. She responded that she was sorry that the subject was so confusing and expressed regret that she hadn’t decided to use separate emails, but since she did nothing wrong or illegal there was no other reason to apologize. She told the AP that “What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that.” These responses were then relayed to the rest of the media that continued to play up the same angle.

It’s interesting that every time a Republican refuses to apologize for their actions they are hailed as people of strong character who stand by their principles. The GOP voters drool all over themselves with ever-expanding esteem for their unyielding commitment. They are venerated for refusing to buckle under to pressure by those who would have them show remorse or even sympathy for those they malign. But when Clinton has the audacity to dismiss the need to apologize, and offers a rational explanation for her stance, she is assailed as arrogant, imperious, or out-of-touch.

This is emblematic of the right’s hypocritical approach to pretty much everything political. Inexperienced candidates are considered a threat to the nation, unless they are inexperienced Republicans like Trump or Carson. Wealthy candidates, like Clinton, are elitists who can’t relate to the common citizen, unless they are wealthy Republicans like Trump or Bush. Religious candidates like Jimmy Carter are belittled and demeaned, unless they are religious Republicans like Huckabee or Cruz. And this goes on and on with other matters including education, military service, and business experience. In every case Democrats are criticized for the same things for which Republicans are praised.

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Personally, I’m a fan of apologies. It shows humility and maturity and the temperament to be able to admit one’s mistakes. People should get credit for apologizing, not criticism. But in the current political environment apologies are taken as signs of weakness. And that’s why Republicans and the press are so adamant about extracting one from Clinton. They want to portray her as weak. That’s the trap. The problem is that if she resists she is portrayed as obstinate and arrogant, but if she complies she is tagged as a spineless wimp. It’s a lose-lose proposition for her alone. Because the GOP can still refuse to apologize for anything and still get applause from the media and right-wingers who go through life with blinders on.


14 thoughts on “Hillary Clinton And The Amazing Wingnutty Media Apology Trap

  1. You are so right! As a fan of apologies, it does show humility and an awareness that maybe I overlooked something. But Hillary overlooked nothing, She had been in government far too long to play games with protocol. I’m waiting for Tray Gowdy and his gestapo to go after Colin Powell and Condi Rice for their use of private email servers during their terms of national office.

    • On the issue about private email servers – I think the issue here is that her boss, President Obama, actually generated a policy regarding emails needing to be on government owned and operated servers that she clearly ignored – and it wasn’t some secret that she could claim. If those previous people broke the law, why isn’t anyone coming to her defense – like the president??? I think you people are really blind on this one. As far as I’m concerned, this is par for politicians like her – so I’m not surprised nor do I even care a whole lot. It doesn’t matter – anyone who ends up winning the presidency today is owned by someone else – she is no angel that is for sure, but neither are any others. We get what we deserve….

  2. What a reach – your examples of the things republican candidates won’t apologize for saying are NOT equivalent to Hillary Clintons email server transgression. She was dishonest with her responses to this issue – as I’ve seen described and explained numerous times on MSNBC. The difference between your examples – those republican transgressions are WORDS only. Hillary Clintons actions are concrete and verifiably wrong and potentially illegal. Very different. A not so nice comment or comparison to the holocaust isn’t illegal – it’s protected speech. You could argue it isn’t the best example for a potential presidential candidate – but it’s still only words. Keep trying – Hillary Clinton is NOT LIKABLE and she is a verifiable liar on this issue.

    • Turns out the people who are the authorities on this issue have made it clear that she did not, in fact, do anything illegal. It has only become a political liability because those of you on the right have deemed that anyone with the last name “Clinton” must be guilty of something in some kind of scandal. It’s old already. Try again.

      • My statements were more about the comparison between GOP statements that Mark feels are equal to the behavior of Hillary Clinton – which isn’t a reasonable comparison. I didn’t state definitively that she was guilty of some illegal activity (only potentially) – but she was dishonest and that isn’t in doubt per the reporting I’ve seen on MSNBC – specifically by John Heilemann on Morning Joe – and more than once during this “investigation”. I never believed anything would ever happen even if she DID do something illegal – I’m not that naive.

  3. Then all are guilty. She’s just more guilty because of the last name. Right?

    And since there weren’t any “e-mail transgressions”, then perhaps you are right—it isn’t a reasonable comparison.

    • If I was a democratic politician, I would hope all voters are as easy as you – gullible, easy to manipulate, not too serious about character flaws such as blatant dishonesty. Nothing I’ve stated is wrong or even partisan – it’s just truth as it’s being reported – an not by fox news. come on – wake up. She is on your side about as much as GW Bush was on your side. Just open your eyes!!! You can’t possibly be this blind to the hypocrisy of all this. Stop being the blind follower – you can’t possibly be this clueless.

      • And if I were a republican politician, I would be nervous about my chances at victory on the national level these days and lamenting the fact that there aren’t enough wingnuts to vote for me as the move further and further to the right by the minor leaguers the republicans offer have their traditional supporters looking elsewhere for something–anything reasonable. Trump, Huckabee, Cruz and the like garner a small cache of the wingnuts but that won’t win elections.

        Character flaws? You’re preaching to the choir. Most politicians have it in their DNA to be disingenuous or out right liars. Marks’ point is the hypocrisy of those on the right and the “liberal media” who give republican politicians a pass for transgressions, verbal or otherwise, while scrutinizing Clinton for perceived transgressions. The statements by Trump and the huckster would disqualify them as a serious candidate in any other party in any democratic gov’t around the globe. Bushs’ anchor baby comment brings him down to their level. You say you’re not in Trumps camp but say he has something to offer to those disillusioned with the establishment. He’s just being an asshole in a no asshole zone. The knuckle draggers love that. Clinton hasn’t done anything wrong regarding the e-mails much less comparable to Trump or the like. Does she have flaws? Sure does and they have kept me out of her camp–just not the ones you’ve expressed.

  4. I’ll assume you maintain that position because you rely on the belief in her support for big government as protection of your job. I understand that – voting for your own best interests – totally understandable.

    And you don’t need to convince me of the GOP’s weakness – I’m not one of the blind followers (suckers) as you appear to be for the democratic party. You can’t bother me.

  5. Evidence of domestic abuse, not respect, in the pundit and media criticism of Hillary that criticized her for not making an apology, then criticizing her for making the apology. This is the abusive trap women get constantly from men who present themselves with an authority over women that they don’t really have, and women fall for it constantly.

    It is this public chastisement that is so unfair in gender relations.

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