Jewish World Review April 19, 2004 / 29 Nissan, 5764
Sorry for not being sorry
So I'm watching the president's press conference this past week, and no fewer than six reporters mentioned the "a" word. Should the commander in chief apologize for 9/11? Should he apologize for Iraq? Should he apologize for not apologizing?
OK, that last one I threw in. But you get my point. Saying you're sorry is all the rage. Richard Clarke started it when he apologized to the 9/11 victims' families for not doing more to prevent the attacks. Washington and the media ate it up.
Frankly, I think the guy was playing to the crowd, and a very strident group of victims' families, who have sadly used the hearings to bash our war on terror. These folks get a great deal of coverage deservedly so for all their suffering. However, no one mentions those family members and friends of victims who are behind the president's ongoing war on terror; many of whom, including the solicitor general of the United States, who lost his wife in the attacks, get virtually no press attention.
But bemoaning the slanted media isn't my point here; the issue of apologizing is.
Why are we so fixated on someone, anyone, saying they're sorry?
You know what I'm sorry about? I'm sorry about our sorry state of affairs, where we are more interested in blaming the guys who didn't see those planes coming on 9/11 than the folks who commandeered those planes on 9/11.
I'm sorry we don't have the guts to say wars on terror aren't neat. They aren't clean. And oftentimes, they aren't clear.
I'm sorry we don't have the tenacity to say that although this administration might have botched things, the terrorists ruined everything.
I'm sorry that we live in a country that seems to put more value on playing political games than saving real lives.
I'm sorry that in this election year we're more interested in looking in the rearview mirror than at the very real and present danger in our front window.
I'm sorry for a nation that obsesses over things that will never bring 3,000 souls to life, while doing little to prevent other good souls from joining them.
I'm sorry for a country that would let Franklin Roosevelt fight a great enemy after Pearl Harbor but wouldn't do the same for this president after 9/11.
I'm sorry for a country that didn't focus on what FDR screwed up before Dec. 7, 1941, but can't let go of what GW might have screwed up before Sept. 11, 2001.
Mistakes were made. Communications were missed. Opportunities were lost.
They say dead men tell no tales. I disagree. I think dead men tell plenty of tales . . . about time wasted and priorities misplaced. I think dead men would look at the empty quest for an apology over acts done as secondary to girding ourselves for acts that could be done.
I always have wondered what terrorists here and abroad think of our political infighting, of our unending quests for apologies, for things we didn't create but they perpetrated.
Only in America can Osama bin Laden launch an attack, and we launch a national guilt complex. We don't ask him to say he's sorry. We prefer all of us just looking sorry.
Many say it's a testament to our free and open society that we can criticize one another and demand apologies from one another.
Some savor that. I frankly feel sorry for all of us for that.
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