“Way back in ’07, I noted the many noteworthy apologists of the time: Don Imus, Michael Richards, Shinzo Abe (Japanese prime minister), Paris Hilton, Paul Wolfowitz, Mel Gibson, George Allen, Rosie O’Donnell. To offset personal depression, I’d rejected the idea of an annual review; yet, given our current qualifiers, I’ve given in. It’s time.
When I was about 10 years old, I committed the cardinal childhood sin: Without his expressed permission, I played with my little brother’s favorite toys.
He threw a fit. I threw his Hopalong Cassidy gun and holster across the room. Arms and legs flailing, he leaped at me in a fury. I caught him on the fly and nearly strangled him.
Our parents made us apologize to each other.
“I’m sorry," he sobbed, gulping to catch the dopey little breath I left him. “I’m sorry ... you played with my toys!”
That’s been a family favorite story over the years, and I’ve now realized that the spirit of my brother’s wry apology is probably the internal mantra of our current slew of apologists.
Although Silvio Berlusconi has racked up numerous reasons to apologize, he has avoided it -- until just lately. Somehow, he saw fit to excuse Mussolini’s bad behavior toward the Jews, on the theory that Mussolini was only trying to win favor from the Nazis. He regrets. “My historical analyses," he mourns, “are always based on condemnation of dictatorships."
Oh, we must’ve missed that point.
Not to be outdone, Mr. Berlusconi’s brother, Paolo, needed to be excused as well, for calling Mario Balotelli, Italy’s star soccer player a “little black boy.” (This is a “loose translation” of a highly derogatory Italian word …” says the New York Times). Actually, Paolo wasn’t sorry; Silvio, his brother’s keeper was. Silvio reportedly called it an “uncivil episode.” But then, he no doubt wishes to regain his presidency.
Not quite apologetic, Lance Armstrong instead is more like … remorseful. (Shoot, lost that career!)
He recently made the Forbes’ “most disliked” list, which maybe he wouldn’t have made had he actually apologized. Well, Oprah tried her best.
The retired Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahoney really regretted the errors he made in protecting the Church instead of the Church’s children. About his mis-dealings with molesting priests, he ruefully noted his “mistakes” and rushed to retirement. (Booted, wethinks.)
Who is Lisa Weiss, and why is she sorry? Ah. Lisa, Lisa. Why would you be sorry for “outing” Anthony Weiner’s parade of lewd tweets and kinky messages?
Publicly, she apologizes: “for any pain I caused you.”
Mr. Weiner, who may or may not be over his unfortunate diversions, might pursue a political comeback. (Lisa wants a job?)
In Phil Mickelson’s case, taxes, of all things, led to his bad behavior. His state taxes really ticked him off -- in fact, he threatened to bag California altogether, but then, he was sorry.
“I didn’t ‘redirect’ the conversation,” he said, but he didn’t say to what. Tax reform instead of relocation? Never mind. He’s still here – and can still buy his own irons.
A slight slight, compared to Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, who was only trying to bow to his constituency, wasn’t he, when he called for public “hatred for Zionists and Jews”? When his comments were recently published, he was remorseful to the max. He said his opinions were “taken out of context." God, save us from the context.
Legally, and across the board, general remorse might reduce one’s sentence for wrong-doing. That’s probably what my brother figured. Better be “sorry” -- than not.
In 2007, I announced the prestigious Laura Walcher Award for the Seemingly Sincere Apologist. It went to Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, who was sorry -- for himself and his constituents, a twofer! He wasn’t wearing a seat belt while his car traveled -- then crashed -- at over 90 mph. “I set a bad example,” he said, “and I hope the state will forgive me.”
This year, John Mackey of Whole Foods Market Inc., earns my new recognition -- “The Laura Walcher Most Grudging Apology” award, since he compared Obamacare to “fascism,” when it was suggested that he could have cited “socialism.”
“It is … more like fascism than socialism,” he excuses himself. “With socialism, the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means, but they do control it."
However, he’s more-or-less sorry “I made a poor word choice … fascism … stirs up too much negative motion with its horrific associations."
The field of contestants for my new award today are all worthy of note, so to those deserving yet not included, well, I’m really, really sorry.
Walcher is principal public relations consultant to J.Walcher Communications.