February 26, 2008

McCain Should Apologize for Apologizing

Hatched by Dafydd

This is something Democrats do that just drives me nuts; and it's twice as irritating when done by a Republican:

Republican John McCain quickly denounced the comments of a radio talk show host who while warming up a campaign crowd referred repeatedly to Barack Hussein Obama and called the Democrat a "hack, Chicago-style" politician.

Hussein is Obama's middle name, but talk show host Bill Cunningham used it three times as he addressed the crowd before the likely Republican nominee's appearance....

"I apologize for it," McCain told reporters, addressing the issue before they had a chance to ask the Arizona senator about Cunningham's comments.

Can we please leave off the insulting, Clintonian stunt of apologizing for what somebody else has done? Please?

It's quite sufficient for McCain to say that he didn't authorize Cunningham to say that, and that he won't be allowed to say it again. Cunningham is not a campaign staffer; he's an independent talk-show host... and his opinions and statements -- no matter how counterproductive -- are his own. McCain is not responsible for Cunningham's mouth.

You start here, and pretty soon you're apologizing to Russia for the Berlin airlift, apologizing to blacks for not having fought the Civil War a hundred years earlier, and apologizing to the world for the Founding Fathers not writing socialized medicine into the Constitution.

In the meantime, I hereby apologize for John McCain's apology on behalf of a person he doesn't know, didn't personally approve, didn't hear, and didn't talk to afterwards.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 26, 2008, at the time of 1:21 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Except that the guy was speaking at an event put on about McCain, for McCain, and most importantly, paid for by McCain.

Let's say you are responsible for an act. If you disapprove, you can accept responsibility and apologize, or you can deny responsibility and just denounce it. Apologizing for it implies that you are accepting responsibility. Denouncing implies that you are NOT responsible. In this case, an apology would be honorable, a denunciation alone would be slimy.

Now for something that you AREN'T responsible for. If you disapprove, you can claim responsibility and apologize, or you can recognize you aren't responsible and just denounce. A denunciation would be honorable, but if you chose to apologize for something you did not do, it means you are claiming power over something when that power did not exist. That is slimy.

Why do it? If, for example, the Dems can apologize for the acts of Republicans, they can claim moral power over them! Following that, if the Republicans do something that the Dems don't like, the Dems can criticize them from a position of moral superiority. It's a way of making another group subservient to your power, at least in the public debate.

But since McCain WAS responsible for everything that was said at that campaign event, an apology was appropriate if he thought what was said was wrong, or not the message he wanted to put out. The fact that he actually WAS responsible for everything said in his name makes ALL the difference.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2008 2:10 PM

The following hissed in response by: TerryeL

I think McCain did the right thing. This event was for him, no doubt people would say he was responsible.

The above hissed in response by: TerryeL [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2008 2:30 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Mr. Michael:

Sorry, I do not agree that the candidate is accountable for everything said by a supporter of his campaign -- even at a campaign event.

If you really want to stretch a point, you could say that McCain can apologize for having allowed Cunningham to introduce him (though that decision was likely made by some low-level campaign worker at the venue).

But I emphatically do not agree that he can apologize for what Cunningham -- who is not a campaign worker -- chose to say. That is entirely up to Mr. Cunningham to do (and he should); McCain cannot relieve him of that duty. Hence, McCain should not apologize.

I am an individualist: You are responsible for what you do and say, for what your minor children do and say, and for what your employees and volunteers do and say while acting as your agent. You are not responsible for everything that your fans do and say... even if they claim it's in your name.

Cunningham was not acting as John McCain's agent; he had no authorization to speak for the campaign. He was in the same position as the toastmaster at an event who introduces the paid speaker: The speaker is not responsible for what the toastmaster says.

Cunningham must own up to that himself. To me, this is a matter of principle.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2008 5:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

He was in the same position as the toastmaster at an event who introduces the paid speaker: The speaker is not responsible for what the toastmaster says.
Is it splitting hairs to say that McCain was more in the role of the party that arranged for the toastmaster? I agree that paid speakers are not responsible for what toastmasters say. Rightly, that's the fault of the toastmasters - and the organizers who selected them.

But on a political campaign, the Candidate IS the organizer. It is in that capacity where McCain is, in an executive kinda way, responsible for everything that happens or is said at his rallies.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 26, 2008 9:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


Your logic is inescapable. Unfortunately this is hardball politics, not modus ponens.

People (at least those on the left) think McCain should apologize, whether this is logically required or not.

By issuing an apology McCain got in front of the issue, rather than waiting until the dull roar on the left became a crescendo and he was forced later to say something that might have sounded less apologetic and more defensive.

Did some kind of syllogistic construct require him to apologize? No. Did it make sense politically to do so? Yes.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 1:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

While I agree that it was not really McCain's place to apologize for someone else's remarks, in this case he may have done more good than harm. Far too many people have fallen in love with Obama without good reason, and the only way McCain can attack Obama is through his policy statements and voting record. McCain's action demonstrates him attempting to stick to the higher ground which may, I repeat may, allow him to offer criticism of Obama's policies without the Obama worshipers being able to paint McCain as being mean. Perceptions matter, and Hillary has come across as mean spirited in her attacks on Obama and simple things like this give McCain cover against being branded the same way. Now obviously it will have no effect with the rabid Obama supporters who act like Obama is a messiah and think anything said that questions anything about Obama or his policies and statements is a dirty attack, but it may help with a some of the independents who are the ones who decide elections anyway. If the election turns on the most likable, Obama is the winner in a landslide, but if McCain can get the focus on issues he has a real chance. If McCain comes across as mean he will have about as much chance of doing that as the vaunted St. Hillary.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 27, 2008 4:46 AM

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