Friday, August 19, 2016

Regret Is Not An Apology

I’m starting to get really, really worried. Donald Trump and I seem to share an increasing number of traits and experiences. Like Trump, I evaded the draft during the Vietnam War by flunking my military physical in 1970 and receiving a 1-Y deferment. My draft lottery number of 139 was high enough, like Trump’s, not to be called in subsequent years.

Fast forward to 2016. We both have a tendency to spout the wrong things when agitated. But where I have always apologized for my indiscretions, The Donald never ever backtracked, never ever apologized. Thursday, in Charlotte, NC, Trump looked like he was eating crow, admitting that sometimes his mouth runs a little faster than his brain.

“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it.

“And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues,” Trump told a rally of his supporters.

But wait. My apologies always cite my specific transgressions. Trump was vague. He never delineated what exactly he regretted. Was it his slur of a Gold Star family? Was it his deprecation of prisoners of war and specifically John McCain for getting captured? Was it his demeaning Mexico and its people? Was it his undermining of the legitimate election of Barack Obama with his advocacy of the birther movement? Was it his scary, unprecedented request for Russia to hack the emails of his opponent? Was it his veiled invitation to second amendment advocates to take out Hillary Clinton before she could take away their guns, which, by the way, as president she would not have the power to do but which Trump riles up his audience with the suggestion she does? Was it his consistent fabrication of the truth, be it his alleging Obama and Clinton founded ISIS, or they wanted to engage in nation building in the Middle East, or that he never supported the invasion of Iraq, or any number of other deliberate misstatements of the truth? Was it his heartless ridicule of a physically handicapped reporter?

Funny, Trump blamed the heat of the moment during debates for his foul mouth disease. But all those apology worthy examples cited above came out during speeches or tweets or interviews when he had ample time to consider what he was saying.

We just don’t know what he regrets because Trump hasn’t told us specifically what he regrets. It is like his plans to end terrorism or improve the economy or solve the racial divide in the country. We just have to trust him that he will do a fabulous job and do it quickly.

So I guess I’m not really like him. I apologize in specific detail. With a promise not to do it again. Trump offers no such assurance of future behavior, especially since the one on one debates with Clinton are more than a month away from starting and just days ago he double-downed on his behavior by vowing to act the same way he has throughout the primary season and general election campaign.

I regret when I say something untoward. I regret that my incendiary words elicit offense, hurt, pain and any number of other reactions. And, I regret the loss of stature in the eyes of those I’ve offended and those who heard me. I regret my embarrassment. I regret that I have to apologize for my actions.

No doubt, Trump regrets the drop in his poll numbers from his insults and diatribes. 

But regret does not encompass or substitute for an apology. Donald Trump needs to specifically apologize to those he has demeaned and to the American public for dragging the political campaign for the highest office in the land down to the lowest depth of any modern day candidate.