Jethro Gibbs, the hero of CBS’s long-running hit procedural drama NCIS, enlightens his charges with “Gibbs’ Rules.” As I have mentioned before, I like Gibbs’ Rules, but one of them is almost always dead wrong. The most cited of the rules is #6: “Never apologize — It’s a sign of weakness,” a rule that Gibbs and the show’s writers borrowed from John Wayne’s character in “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.” ( “Never apologize, mister, it. It’s a sign of weakness.”). Sincerely apologizing for genuine harm, mistakes or misconduct is not weakness, but a sign of character, accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness.
Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe in accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness, so it’s not surprising that she never apologizes. Neither does Donald Trump. It’s a clanging, earsplitting ethics alarm for anyone seeking a leader, for this means that they do not have the integrity or decency to admit genuine wrongdoing, and seek instead to maintain the illusion that they are infallible. It is even possible that they are in the throes of Rationalization #14, Self-validating Virtue, the mark of narcissists. Refusing to apologize is a terrible sign for a leader, a manager, even a friend.
Out of this ominous character flaw has come one of the most remarkable non-apologies in decades. When prompted by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell to apologize for her mishandling—her intentional mishandling, remember— of the e-mails she sent and received while Secretary of State, the Remarkable, Astounding, Ethics-Defying Candidate Hillary Clinton told her…
“At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions.And I take responsibility, and it wasn’t the best choice.”
Sound the trumpets and summon the sculptors! That is an unethical non apology for the ages:
1) It concludes, as I have recently explained, with a calculated and cynical rationalization merged with deceit, “It wasn’t the best choice.” Unethical.
2) Since Hillary obviously is not sorry for what she did, since she would do it again in a heartbeat in order to hide whatever it was she was saying, doing and sending in the e-mails she destroyed before either a House Committee or State could examine them if she could get away with it, kudos to her for not making an insincere non-apology apology 6-10 on the Apology Scale. Most politicians would have accepted Mitchell’s invitation and given the public what it wants to hear. Not Hillary. This is Clinton Integrity, which is a close cousin to Godfather Part II integrity. Ethical. Sort of….
3) She does say she’s sorry that “this has been confusing to people,” and that is a screaming, outrageous, blatant and audacious bald-faced lie of lies. Do I make myself clear? Confusing the public is what the entire spin operation Clinton’s campaign has engineered around this fiasco has intended to accomplish. This is the Clinton way, as with Whitewater, as with the Clinton Foundation influence peddling, as with the Monica Follies.
You see, Bill didn’t tell the truth under oath but it was a non-material lie so it isn’t really perjury and besides, it was about sex, and lies about sex don’t count, and even if they do count, he was set up in a perjury trap, and he didn’t have sex with her, or didn’t think that was what “sex” meant when he said in public that he didn’t have sex, and anyway, it was personal conduct not conduct as President even though it was in his office with the type employee that he had just protected from people like him in the workplace with tougher workplace harassment law but it wasn’t really applicable in his case and even if it was, Jack Kennedy had much more dangerous affairs, and while he probably would have been impeached if they had been discovered, that was a different time and just lying short of perjury and hiding evidence, like the blue dress, of a crime that isn’t really a crime and even if it is it isn’t a high crime though high crime really has never been defined…
Confused yet? Mission accomplished. The various double-talk distinctions, faux, technical and imaginary being thrown at the public by Clinton’s paid liars, along with false claims that the whole matter is an imaginary Republican plot—you know, like the “right wing conspiracy” about Monica, have been designed to cause similar confusion over the e-mail situation, and Clinton’s constantly-changing words, tweaked with every new drip of damning information, have added to the desired bewilderment. Clinton handled no classified information.
Well, she handled no information that had been labeled classified. Well, some were marked “Top Secret,” but that’s not technically exactly the same as classified, and anyway, the labels were removed before she saw them….nobody know by who!! But that’s no crime, it’s just..not the best choice. Yes, there’s a crime of mishandling classified information, but you have to know what classified information is or will be, and how is Hillary supposed to know that she was handling classified in formation if it hadn’t been marked because she had kept it out of the State Department system exposing it to security breaches, even though, as Secretary of State, it is assumed that any State business that goes through her is at least potentially classified, but hey, John Kerry, the current Secretary of State (who operates under explicit law making what Clinton did a crime) says too many State materials are classified anyway..
Confused yet? Sure you are. Now say 100 Hail Hillaries and be sure to vote early and often.
4) “…has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions.” Implication: there are answers that exonerate her. Truth: the answer is that she intentionally breached policy, placing her duties and the security of the nation at risk, and has been lying about it since March. Unethical.
5) “I take responsibility…” but not coming clean about what I really did and why, and having my campaign claim that the whole scandal is “nonsense.” That’s not being responsible. Unethical.
Concluding with Rationalization #19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.”
And there you are! The Amazing Unethical, Ethical, Unethical, Unethical, Unethical, Unethical Non-Apology! You should be so proud, Hillary supporters!
Now today, Hillary added another “Unethical” to this masterpiece, which is a terrible mistake. Artists who return to works of art to make minor improvements show poor judgment. Don’t take away those guns in the hands of the agents arresting the kids in E.T., Spielberg! Stop revising Follies, Sondheim! Jeez, Walt Whitman, leave “Leaves of Grass” the way you wrote it the first time! Five unethicals and a dubious ethical should be accomplishment enough for President-To-Be Clinton, but no, she had to show off, and gild the lily.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Labor Day, Clinton she does not need to apologize for using a private email account and server while at the State Department because “what I did was allowed.”
Got that? It was allowed. By State. Which she was the head of. Hillary Clinton believes that if reckless, deceptive, borderline illegal and incompetent conduct by a high-ranking official was allowed, then there’s nothing to apologize for, and no wrongdoing has been committed!
Well, that assertion is certainly impressive evidence or irreversible ethics rot, but I still wish she hadn’t said it.
Her non-apology was already perfect.