Saturday, February 12, 2011

Discussion Topic

OK, here is a chance to start a real conversation with some right-wingers. It comes from this post by Matt Yglesias. It begins with a quote from former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, speaking at the CPAC conference:
“Mr. President, with bullies, might makes right. Strength makes them submit. We need to get tough on our enemies, not on our friends. And, Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country,” Pawlenty said in one of his speech’s biggest applause lines.
Matt continues, after a gratuitous music video from Nirvana:
This is interesting, in part, because I don’t even remember the president apologizing for our country.
OK, so, on the one hand you have Gov. Pawlenty saying that Pres. Obama needs to stop apologizing for our country (whatever that means). Then Matt makes the factually accurate statement that, in fact, Pres. Obama has never "apologized" for the United States (again, whatever that means). Matt continues, however, to offer a view that is not factual, but is his opinion. I am not suggesting I agree or disagree with it. These are Matt Yglesias words, not mine:
[R]age at the president’s non-existent habit of apologizing is a pure psychological manifestation of acute sensitivity around this issue. It’s a very pure distillation of the raw, hysterical, absurd atavistic nationalism that lies at the core of contemporary conservatism.

Matt extends his argument:
I mean, I assume Pawlenty doesn’t raise his kids to never apologize for their conduct. Apologizing is the right way to respond to wrongdoing. Sometimes I make factual errors in my posts and I try to apologize for them. I stepped on a woman’s foot by accident yesterday and apologized. That’s life. You apologize. Is it seriously an article of faith of the American conservative movement that the American government has never done anything worth apologizing for? That’s the official view of the political movement that allegedly thinks the other movement is too statist? When I heard that tear gas that Egyptian police fired at protestors in Tahrir Square was made in America and purchased with my tax dollars, I felt kind of sorry. But evidently real rightwingers are devoid of human compassion or any ethic of responsibility.
It is a fact that Pres. Obama has never, to the knowledge of anyone, "apologized" for actions the United States has carried out. Yet, he is constantly criticized for doing something he has not, in fact done. That's part (a). Part (b) is the description of right-wing ideology that sees nothing in America's history or current activity around the globe worth apologizing for. Obviously, we have much to apologize for.

In order to cover my self, I googled "Obama apologizes" and I got this hit right at the get-go:
President Obama this afternoon spoke with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom to “express his deep regret” and “extend an apology to all those infected” following the revelation that the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study from 1946 to 1948 in which near 700 prisoners, soldiers and patients with emotional and mental problems were purposefully infected with syphilis.
So, OK, he did apologize. Seems to me, though, this is kind of a big deal, purposely infecting people with a horrid disease without their knowledge or consent. So, he has apologized, but for a specific act that is, by any measure, reprehensible.

An April, 2009 Telegraph article on a speech by President Obama is characterized, perhaps not unjustly, as an apology for American arrogance by at least one blogger.

Beyond that, all I get are links to the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh claiming Obama is on another "apology tour", as well as instances where the President has apologized for words or actions that, it seems to me, warrant at the very least a public apology.

So, there you have it. The President has apologized, directly and forcefully, for a despicable act on the part of Americans in the past. He has also, obliquely perhaps, apologized for American arrogance and dismissal of European unity, while in the same breath calling on Europeans to be a bit more magnanimous toward America.

So, where are the apology tours? Other than these instances, when has the President gone on an "apology tour"? Should the President stop something he never actually started?

Virtual Tin Cup

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