The Washington Post

Famous American political apologies, in the style of Luis Suarez

Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez issued an apology Monday for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. Like, a sort of apology.

Suarez says he took some time to "reflect about the reality" of the time he bit someone. "The truth is" that Chiellini "suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me." That, Suarez says, is the truth. We will note that the incident was the third time someone had suffered the physical result of a bite in collisions with Suarez, a description so tortured as to make calling it "passive" understated.

Anyway, it's funny, and it reminds us just a little of some of the tortured non-apology apologies offered by U.S. politicians, so we applied the same phrasing to some of the most famous apologies in American political history.


Suarez and his colleague. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Mark Sanford

The former governor of South Carolina was caught in an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina in 2009, temporarily derailing his political career.

After several days walking the Appalachian Trail, I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred. The truth is that my wife suffered the result of infidelity in the collision she suffered with the truth. I apologize to Jenny Sanford and the entire Sanford family.

Jerry Springer

Springer, then the mayor of Cincinnati, ran for governor of Ohio in 1982, hitting a roadblock when it became public that he had paid for a prostitute with a check nearly a decade prior.

The truth is that my temporary employee and colleague suffered the physical result of a collision with me. I apologize to Cincinnati and the entire Fifth Third Bank family.

Ben Franklin

In 1731, Franklin was criticized for printing unpopular opinions in the Pennsylvania Gazette.

I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred. The truth is that readers suffered the emotional result of being wrong in the collision they suffered with my paper. I deeply regret what occurred.

Joe Biden

While competing with Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008, Biden praised his opponent for being "the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

The truth is that my colleague Barack Obama suffered the result of being insulted in a collision he suffered with my mouth. For this, I deeply regret what occurred and I vow that there will never again be another incident like.

George Allen

While campaigning for reelection to the Senate in 2006, George Allen referred to a young man filming him for political opponents as "macaca" — a racially-loaded term.

I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of the campaign stop. The truth is that that kid suffered the emotional result of being called a racist name in a collision his ears suffered with some sound waves.

Bill Clinton

In 1998, Bill Clinton finally apologized for doing you-know-what with you-know-who. His actual apology wasn't that great, we'll note.

I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred in a hallway off the Oval Office. The truth is that my colleague, that woman ...

Actually, let's skip this one.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Comments
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Listen
Play Video
Quoted
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Listen
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.