Recall, for a moment when George W. Bush was running for reelection in 2004 and the media thought it their duty to expose that good man’s every flaw. Regularly portraying (with some justification) the Iraq War as becoming a quagmire, they wanted the then-President to admit his mistakes.
Writing about the then-President’s April 2004 press conference, CNN’s Sean Louglin noted the tenor of the questions:
The president was pressed by reporters repeatedly on whether he felt he had made any mistakes in Iraq or in not recognizing the threat of terrorism before September 11, 2001.
Emphasis added. The media, who had determined that W had many many mistakes, barely considers that his successor may have made a few. (Yes, there are exceptions.)
And it seems that that successor, Barack Obama, is every bit the man they portrayed W to be, stubborn and incapable of admitting his errors.
Just look how the incubment handled a comment he made in his press conference earlier this week. He then said Sgt. James Crowley “acted stupidly” when he arresed black Harvard scholar Henry Lewis Gates Jr. Instead of apologizing to the officer and saying he was wrong, he sought instead to clarify his remarks:
Because this has been ratcheting up and I helped contribute to ratcheting it up, I want to make clear that in my choice of words I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sgt. Crowley specifically and I could have calibrated those words differently.
Indeed, attorney Jan LaRue thinks Obama “distanced himself” from personal responsibility:
Whatever he said in his phone call to Sgt. James Crowley, Obama didn’t admit to the rest of us that he apologized for his ignorant, drive-by assault. He didn’t say that he was “sorry” for “maligning” Crowley before the entire world for acting “stupidly” and for characterizing him as a racial profiler. He distanced himself from any concept of personal responsibility or regret, instead regretting how things turned out: “to the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate, but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate.”
Couldn’t he have just said he was wrong to speak in haste and so prejudge the situation by his choice of adverb (“stupidly”)?
Why can’t the president just say he made a mistake to speak as he did and apologize, realizing that given his office, when he speaks, his words carry far more import than do those of a private citizen? Barack Obama could learn a lesson from Arthur Fonzarelli.