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The Trouble With Apologies - Why won't Bush say he's sorry?
Time Magazine ^ | April 19, 2004 | Charles Krauthammer

Posted on 04/27/2004 4:45:02 PM PDT by upchuck

The Trouble With Apologies
Why won't Bush say he's sorry? Think of what the response would be

The Presidential press conference had the feel of a therapy session but without the subtlety. "Would you not feel so much better," George W. Bush was repeatedly asked in so many words, "admitting to us the sheer folly of your disastrous policies?" Of course, in demanding a confession, the press corps was seeking catharsis not for the President/patient but for itself, hungry for the satisfaction of puncturing the stubborn certainty of this utterly determined war President.

No dice. Bush essentially told them to take a hike.

Should he have acquiesced? Some things have obviously gone wrong in the past 3 1/2 years, most notably Sept. 11 and most recently the insurgency in Iraq. Should Bush apologize?

Well, what happened in the past when bad things happened to good Presidents? Did F.D.R. apologize for Pearl Harbor — a military attack on a military base by a military force already at war? No. He placed blame entirely on the empire of Japan, then promised to reduce it to rubble. Which he did.

Take Oklahoma City, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil before Sept. 11. Did President Bill Clinton take responsibility — let alone apologize for Oklahoma City? No. In fact, he laid the dead at the feet of "loud and angry voices in America today," joining a chorus of liberals in blaming the bombing on the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for allegedly encouraging militias.

O.K., so there's a double standard. Not every President is asked to apologize for disasters that occur on his watch. Still, did not Bush misjudge Iraq?

In some ways, of course, he did. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is candid in saying that no one expected fighting like this a full year after the fall of Baghdad. But any judgment about the President's judgments requires context. First, the context of the war on terrorism, which means examining the entire post-Sept. 11 ledger. That includes more than just the past two weeks of bloodletting in Iraq. It includes overthrowing the Taliban, liberating Afghanistan, scattering and decimating al-Qaeda, deposing Saddam Hussein, disarming Libya and turning Pakistan from supporter of the Taliban (and by extension al-Qaeda) into perhaps our most significant ally in the war on terror. And though no one dares say this, it includes 2 1/2 years without a terrorist attack on American soil, something that in the days and weeks after Sept. 11 no one expected. Call that luck. Call that design. But it is a fact.

Second, the context of war in general. What level of errorlessness — and admission of errorhave we demanded of our wartime leaders? In World War II, F.D.R. and Winston Churchill made scores of tactical errors that cost thousands of Allied lives. Did they apologize? Did they say they were sorry for the disastrous Operation Market Garden ("a bridge too far") or for the terrible losses in the Battle of the Bulge? It takes but a modicum of humility and humanity to recognize that in the pressure of war, tactical errors are inevitable.

The Afghan campaign was one of the most brilliant and economical in military history. Nonetheless, one battle, Tora Bora, was a failure, probably allowing Osama bin Laden to slip away. Is this the stuff of apologies? Did Lincoln apologize for his army's letting Lee get away at Antietam?

Iraq was a country utterly ruined by Saddam Hussein. Paul Bremer has had to rebuild it from the ground up. He has been making dozens of decisions every day, the vast majority of them successful: the economy is reviving, tens of thousands of Iraqis have returned from exile, oil production is near prewar capacity, the country is rebuilding. Did we make any mistakes? Of course we did. The most egregious being not giving enough protection to the pro-Western Ayatullah Abdul-Majid al-Khoei, who was murdered, most likely by followers of the now notorious Muqtada al-Sadr.

Sure, it would have been nice if Bush had said, "Yes, we erred. Perhaps we should not have disbanded the Iraqi army." Would saying that have won him praise for his candor? Not in the poisoned climate of Washington today. Last July, Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, returned from Iraq with a balanced and honest assessment of what the allies had done right and wrong in the immediate postwar period. What was the next morning's Washington Post headline? WOLFOWITZ GIVES NUANCED ASSESSMENT OF IRAQ SITUATION? No. WOLFOWITZ CONCEDES IRAQ ERRORS, followed by a brief for the Administration's critics.

In August 1945, Harry Truman made the weightiest presidential decision of the 20th century. He later said he never lost a night's sleep over dropping the Bomb on Hiroshima. For that, some critics to this day condemn him for lack of reflectiveness — and worse. I'd call it decisiveness. And in wartime, decisiveness counts for more.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: apology; bush; krauthammer
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1 posted on 04/27/2004 4:45:04 PM PDT by upchuck
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To: upchuck
Once again, Charlie lays the hammer right on the nail.
2 posted on 04/27/2004 4:46:35 PM PDT by upchuck (Message to Senator John F'ing sKerry: Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.)
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To: upchuck
These libreals make me sick! War is coming keep pushing it :(
3 posted on 04/27/2004 4:47:05 PM PDT by Tropicalwatcher
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: upchuck
Do we want someone who sits around second guessing himself or a man who takes all the info at his disposal and leads. Just one "I'm sorry for....." from him and his opponents will crucify him with it. I'm certainly glad he has not bought into this lame blame game.
5 posted on 04/27/2004 4:51:53 PM PDT by Route66 (America's Mainstreet)
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To: upchuck
Krauthammer nails it.

Wartime failures shouldn't be characterized that way. In war - more than in most areas of life - one must act fast on incomplete information. Success is far from guaranteed and continued and unbroken success is miraculous.

But I would like to know why we didn't do more to stop the post-conquest looting. That was extremely damaging to our subsequent efforts.

6 posted on 04/27/2004 4:53:01 PM PDT by liberallarry
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To: upchuck
I recall a president who made plenty of mistakes and never admitted one. His name was Lincoln.
7 posted on 04/27/2004 4:53:48 PM PDT by RobbyS (JMJ)
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To: upchuck
Iraq was a country utterly ruined by Saddam Hussein.

I think that the bombs that the US dropped had something to do with ruining the county. Don't you?

8 posted on 04/27/2004 4:54:35 PM PDT by Mike4Freedom (Freedom is the one thing that you cannot have unless you grant it to everyone else.)
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To: upchuck
I don't want Bush to be my daddy, I elected him to lead.

I don't want him to apologize for what my enemies have done, I want him to hunt them down and destroy them.
9 posted on 04/27/2004 4:55:19 PM PDT by marron
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To: CecilRhodesRidesAgain
I wish more people would start comparing Bush to Churchill, FDR and Truman

Forget it. They all took their share of unfair, uninformed, and partisan criticism. Bush will have to take his.

10 posted on 04/27/2004 4:55:33 PM PDT by liberallarry
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To: Mike4Freedom
No.
11 posted on 04/27/2004 4:56:00 PM PDT by marron
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To: upchuck
What was the next morning's Washington Post headline? WOLFOWITZ GIVES NUANCED ASSESSMENT OF IRAQ SITUATION? No. WOLFOWITZ CONCEDES IRAQ ERRORS, followed by a brief for the Administration's critics.

What the presstitutes at that news conference wanted was for Bush to make an ad for the Kerry campaign, the most effective one that it could ever have. Bush didn't feel like it and certainly was not obligated to do so.

12 posted on 04/27/2004 4:56:43 PM PDT by VadeRetro (Faster than a speeding building! Able to leap tall bullets in a single bound!)
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To: Mike4Freedom
The embargo/Saaddam's neglect did more to ruin the country than our military campaign. Bagdad was essentially intact when our troops rolled into the city.
13 posted on 04/27/2004 4:58:01 PM PDT by RobbyS (JMJ)
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To: upchuck
Bush should have asked the reporters to apologize for their biased war coverage and the dumb questions they keep asking.
14 posted on 04/27/2004 4:58:27 PM PDT by TheLion
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To: upchuck
Clinton had a very clear policy on apologies-he only apologized for things that happened before he was born.
15 posted on 04/27/2004 4:58:36 PM PDT by Spok (They call me old Hugh, but I doubt I'm 80.)
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To: RobbyS
I recall a president who made plenty of mistakes and never admitted one. His name was Lincoln.

Yup, an apt comparison. Of course George hasn't killed nearly as many as Abe did but give him time.

Abe put his political enemies in jail without charge. This included newspaper editors. George has only done this to a handful of "enemy combatants". Political enemies have only been punished by getting on the yellow list so that they are harrassed at airports. Abe did not have airport security avaiable as a punishment.

16 posted on 04/27/2004 4:59:03 PM PDT by Mike4Freedom (Freedom is the one thing that you cannot have unless you grant it to everyone else.)
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To: upchuck
Very good article!
I hope the President doesn't ever apolgize for anything, unless it is for not busting a few media members in the chops!
17 posted on 04/27/2004 5:00:27 PM PDT by ladyinred (Kerry has more flip flops than Waikiki Beach)
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To: upchuck
Did you know that Clintoon apologized to the Hawaiian for our "occupation"?

Of coarse he never would apologize for anything that happened on his watch. More like "Hey Janet, We need you to due your stooge thing again."
18 posted on 04/27/2004 5:00:58 PM PDT by lizma
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To: Mike4Freedom
Political enemies have only been punished by getting on the yellow list so that they are harrassed at airports.

Political enemies?

They're terrorist suspects, son. And they should be harassed.

19 posted on 04/27/2004 5:02:42 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: upchuck
Why should he say he is sorry?
20 posted on 04/27/2004 5:02:55 PM PDT by sport
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To: Mike4Freedom
Don't forget his biggest mistake: destroying American slavery.
As for constitutional scruples, Jeff Davis didn't have many either. Just read what his vice-president said about him.
21 posted on 04/27/2004 5:03:55 PM PDT by RobbyS (JMJ)
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To: upchuck
NO apologies. Bush has nothing to apologize for.
22 posted on 04/27/2004 5:04:44 PM PDT by Old Grumpy
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To: RobbyS; Mike4Freedom
Oh, Lord!

Not this again!


Hey guys...uhhh...there's NEW war on. (whistle) Hey!
23 posted on 04/27/2004 5:08:00 PM PDT by wimpycat ("The road to the promised land runs past Sinai."-C.S. Lewis)
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To: upchuck

24 posted on 04/27/2004 5:08:10 PM PDT by Smartass (BUSH & CHENEY 2004 - STAMP OUT KERRY'S SOCIALISIM.)
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To: liberallarry
I think the looting in Iraq was a surprise because we gave these people more credit than we should have. They are so far removed from the civilization they once were that it is almost regretable that we are offering them a democracy. It's a bold plan which would benefit us greatly if it can be pulled off, but they seem to be people that are mostly sheep, willing to follow even madmen to their own hurt.

As far as the president not apologizing, there is no point in cutting your arm in shark infested waters. If they want to ask rude questions, let them get answered with the same.
25 posted on 04/27/2004 5:10:02 PM PDT by man of Yosemite ("When a man decides to do something everyday, that's about when he stops doing it.")
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To: upchuck
Why won't Bush say he's sorry? Think of what the response would be

His interrogators at AP, New York Slimes, WSJ, LA Times, and Terry Moran of ABC News, David Gregory of NBC and John Roberts of CBS, etc. would all do a happy dance. Can't have that!

26 posted on 04/27/2004 5:10:59 PM PDT by ride the whirlwind (We can't let Kerry win - an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)
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To: sinkspur
Mike4Freedom is a conservative? Hadn't noticed in his current posts. Maybe a bad day.
27 posted on 04/27/2004 5:14:32 PM PDT by luvbach1 (In the know on the border)
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To: wimpycat
War tends to dissolve society into a state of nature. Professional armies tend to minimize loss, but people will die and property will be destroyed.
28 posted on 04/27/2004 5:19:12 PM PDT by RobbyS (JMJ)
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To: man of Yosemite
I think the looting in Iraq was a surprise

No it wasn't. It was one of the likely occurances predicted in pre-war planning. And it went on for a long time.

It's a bold plan which would benefit us greatly if it can be pulled off

Very bold. Even it is successful it will take a long time to make it so. Not only are we dealing with a society unused to good governance. We are also have to deal with irrational boundaries which force dissimilar peoples together - originally for the benefit of various conquerors; Arabs, Turks, English.

29 posted on 04/27/2004 5:20:00 PM PDT by liberallarry
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To: Smartass
Bush should have merely said: "That turd won't float!"
30 posted on 04/27/2004 5:22:08 PM PDT by BobS
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To: Mike4Freedom
>> "Abe did not have airport security available as a punishment." <<

What an idiotic statement
31 posted on 04/27/2004 5:22:10 PM PDT by sd-joe
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To: sinkspur
Political enemies? They're terrorist suspects, son. And they should be harassed.

Thanks for calling me son, makes me feel younger. Unfortunately many ordinary US citizens whose only crime was writing anti-war pieces have ended up on the secret yellow and red list. Red list, you don't fly at all. Yellow list, you are randomly picked for further searching every time-not very random!

Yes, I have heard from people who found out the hard way that they are on such lists. A red list guy was refused the purchase of his ticket on the computer. No terrorist he, just a political activist. Unless of course you believe that criticizing Bush equals treason, then maybe you find that OK.

32 posted on 04/27/2004 5:22:17 PM PDT by Mike4Freedom (Freedom is the one thing that you cannot have unless you grant it to everyone else.)
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To: upchuck
During his eight years as president, Bill Clinton went around the world apologizing for the United States at the drop of a hat. What did it buy us? Fewer terrorist attacks? More love, respect and cooperation from the "international community?" Or scorn from our enemies?

If anyone other than the jihadists need to apologize, it is our hopelessly Left-skewed media for their betrayal of the American people over and over again.

33 posted on 04/27/2004 5:22:29 PM PDT by Wolfstar (Our place in this war? On the political front lines, as our Armed Forces fight on the battle lines.)
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To: upchuck
The Trouble With Apologies Why won't Bush say he's sorry? Think of what the response would be

Time is a propaganda rag
34 posted on 04/27/2004 5:23:50 PM PDT by Vision (Always Faithful)
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To: Mike4Freedom
Yes, I have heard from people who found out the hard way that they are on such lists.

Name them. Otherwise, I don't believe one word of this.

35 posted on 04/27/2004 5:25:28 PM PDT by sinkspur (Adopt a dog or a cat from an animal shelter! It will save one life, and may save two.)
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To: upchuck
Reporters are not interested in reporting news. Instead they try to make the news & in the process have become a parody of themselves.
36 posted on 04/27/2004 5:33:35 PM PDT by GoLightly
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To: upchuck; maica; Travis McGee
es, we erred. Perhaps we should not have disbanded the Iraqi army.

I thought that the Iraqi army just took off their uniforms and went home. It's tough to disband an army that has disappeared.

37 posted on 04/27/2004 5:41:22 PM PDT by Freee-dame
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To: upchuck
The President should NOT apologize -

- let al Queda apologize

- the press would have a field day and would never let it go
- what is it with the libs that they want an apology? Like that will make everything that happened on 911 suddenly better?

- there's a war on and mistakes will be made. As far as the situation in Iraq right now, I wonder if some of this has been rope-a-dope, letting the terrorists mass so it's easier to get them all together in one place for better and easier targeting. There's so much info we don't get.
38 posted on 04/27/2004 5:43:46 PM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: upchuck
I'd call it decisiveness

They hate that. Much too manly.

39 posted on 04/27/2004 6:02:43 PM PDT by irv
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To: upchuck
What a great writer.
40 posted on 04/27/2004 6:07:03 PM PDT by tkathy (nihilism: absolute destructiveness toward the world at large and oneself)
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To: upchuck
"Never apologize, son. It shows weakness."

John Wayne.

= )

My heroes have always been cowboys...
41 posted on 04/27/2004 9:05:19 PM PDT by Mr. Thorne ("But iron, cold iron, shall be master of them all..." Kipling)
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To: upchuck
Bravo Charles!
42 posted on 04/27/2004 9:43:37 PM PDT by lainde (Heads up...We're coming and we've got tongue blades!!)
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To: sinkspur
Yes, I have heard from people who found out the hard way that they are on such lists.

Name them. Otherwise, I don't believe one word of this.

Me either. Sounds suspiciously like Kerry's "foreign leaders" or the host of imaginary playmates made up by the Dick Gephards and clintonoids of the demo-world.
43 posted on 04/27/2004 9:51:55 PM PDT by SavoyyTruffle
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To: marron
Agreed!

this apology business reeks to heaven. imagine, a good man, trying to defend the rights of a bunch of mincing subversives and worse, is called upon to apologize to them - to THEM - for destroying our enemies.

what's worse is that this happens all the time, and far too many good men submit to this moral blackmail and give these parasites even more power.

Never apologize; never explain.
44 posted on 04/27/2004 9:55:39 PM PDT by epigone73
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To: Freee-dame
Good point. What army? It evaporated, to condense later in small drops like Fallujah.
45 posted on 04/27/2004 11:14:20 PM PDT by Travis McGee (----- www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com -----)
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To: upchuck
The left must have been conditioned by Clinton's endless appologies for his actions and appologies for things he had no business appologizing for.

46 posted on 04/28/2004 1:09:07 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: Mike4Freedom
Well in the final Plot to kill Abe Lincoln the mother of a friend of Boothe who owned a boarding house in which the plot was planned was.... HANGED.

Her crime was being the mother of one of the conspirators.

No one has been hanged.

Times change. But it seems your boy Clinton had his FBI enemies list and just when was he going to begin to round up his Political enemies?
47 posted on 04/28/2004 1:27:13 AM PDT by Michael121 (An old soldier knows truth. Only a Dead Soldier knows peace.)
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To: marron
Says It all.
48 posted on 04/28/2004 1:28:18 AM PDT by Michael121 (An old soldier knows truth. Only a Dead Soldier knows peace.)
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To: upchuck
Very good article. Bookmarking.

Qwinn
49 posted on 04/28/2004 1:39:20 AM PDT by Qwinn
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To: upchuck
Did F.D.R. apologize for Pearl Harbor — a military attack on a military base by a military force already at war? No. He placed blame entirely on the empire of Japan, then promised to reduce it to rubble. Which he did.

And which he should have. It was entirely Japan's fault.

Did President Bill Clinton take responsibility — let alone apologize for Oklahoma City? No. In fact, he laid the dead at the feet of "loud and angry voices in America today," joining a chorus of liberals in blaming the bombing on the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for allegedly encouraging militias.

To this day I believe that OKC was a clinton plot designed to discredit the right. clinton should have apologized (and should be burning right now after being executed for treason)

In August 1945, Harry Truman made the weightiest presidential decision of the 20th century. He later said he never lost a night's sleep over dropping the Bomb on Hiroshima. For that, some critics to this day condemn him for lack of reflectiveness — and worse.

The residents of Hiroshima were enemies. Why lose sleep over killing enemies in wartime? It's what you are supposed to do.

50 posted on 04/28/2004 6:13:44 AM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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