Sorry, Rush Limbaugh.
Your non-apology was not accepted.
Sandra Fluke, appearing on The View Monday, said, “I don’t think that a statement like this… changes anything.”
That’s an understatement.
These days, apologies come in two flavors: the command apology, issued under duress, and the snarky, self-serving sorry-you-mistook-my-meaning. These can even be the same apology. Apologies are like kidneys – if not given willingly, they lose some of their luster.
One of Rick Perry’s mottoes, during his brief campaign, a period of a few months in which he never managed entirely to extricate his foot from his mouth, was Never Apologize. We don’t need a president who apologizes for America, he kept reminding us.
If true, this is a relief. The apology is an entirely lost art. If you want a full set of jousting armor, there are still people who can make you one. But an apology? Forget it. That craft died somewhere before the thank-you note did. The last man who knew how to make a real, sincere apology perished in the Great Fire of Chicago. (“Begin by admitting it’s your fault — ” he gasped, as the roof-beam fell in.)
Historians tell us that the apology was once a thing you made when you realized that you were in the wrong. You used to heap ashes on your head, dress in sackcloth, and crawl about on your knees shouting, “Woe is me! I was wrong!”
No wonder it’s out of fashion. These days, we are never wrong. Our facts might be wrong, but if so, we can get better ones on the Internet. Our choice of words might be wrong, but you should have known what we meant.
It has been years since someone offered a good old-fashioned apology like Mother used to make you deliver when you busted Mr. Sherman’s window. The best apology in recent memory was Ed Schultz, after he called Laura Ingraham a right-wing version of what Mr. Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke. He said he’d let down his family and had shamed himself. He did everything but show up at the radio station in sackcloth and ashes. And that incident blew over.
But who wants an incident to blow over?
These days, apologies sound something like, “Well, I’m sorry you were offended by my choice of words” or “I apologize for the absolute and total rectitude of my remarks and probity of my lifestyle; I am refulgent and you are, as you have ever been, a carminative dingleberry,” if you feel like being especially jerky.
And Limbaugh’s was a classic of the Unapologetic Apology genre.
Leaving aside the fact that it is difficult for one to take your apology seriously when it is posted below a photo of you smoking a cigar with total nonchalance, the words chosen for the apology — like most words from Rush lately — were sub-par.
“In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke,” he noted. Really? Usually, calling someone a “slut” and “prostitute” and demanding video of her sex life is an odd way of not making a personal attack. I’d hate to see what Limbaugh does when he means to make personal attacks. I can only assume he flings battery acid at people while screaming loudly in tongues.
“My choice of words was not the best,” Rush Limbaugh concluded, ”and in the attempt to be humorous I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” For the insulting word choices? You mean, every word used in your three days of statements, words that seemed perfect for the sentiments behind them? From the sounds of the apology, it seemed as though Limbaugh’s only regret was that he hadn’t said “harlot” or “hussy” instead. Those might have generated less of a stir.
But of course, a stir was Limbaugh’s whole point. Over three days, he escalated his mud-flinging to the point when it was no longer possible to just ignore him and hope he’d go away.
No wonder he didn’t apologize. No wonder Fluke didn’t accept.