Just back from lovely Roanoke College, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Salem, Virginia, where I had a nice time talking to members of the student body about dirty tricks in American presidential elections. My impression was that most of the kids hadn't heard about many of the election stories from our fabled and fraudulent past--no one aged 18-20 raised his or her hand when I asked if any of them knew who Willie Horton was--but everyone present seemed to feel that negative politics played a powerful role in the elections they had witnessed so far, and that the question of who was being more negative was a major debating point in the Hillary-Obama clash to date.
The students at Roanoke were very tuned in to the constant apologies going on this campaign, as well as the firings of aides who had made comments deemed insenstive. One young woman asked me if this was the first campaign where such apologies and dismissals were such a major factor, and I think, to this extent, it is. It's quite amusing really--can we really imagine Teddy Roosevelt apologizing to William Howard Taft for going him "a fathead with the brains of a guinea pig?" Or Harry Truman apologizing to Richard Nixon for telling voters they might to go hell if they voted for the Trickster in 1960?
The most recent "I'm sorry," of course, features West Virginia Senator John D.
Rockefeller IV, who said in an interview that McCain's time dropping bombs on North Vietnam did not prepare him for the everyday concerns of ordinary Americans. What is there in that to apologize for? The McCain campaign, apparently feeling they had a winner with this one, also demanded that Barack Obama, whom Rockefeller supports, should apologize as well! (And Obama did.)
All of these apologies, as well as the demands for same, are in the main insipid and politically inspired. And I predict, once we hit the general election, that they will soon stop.