Does Being an Elite Mean Never Having to Say You Truly Are Sorry? - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Does Being an Elite Mean Never Having to Say You Truly Are Sorry?

I nearly got run over by truck when I was out for a jog last week. A guy in a pickup truck rolled through a stop sign and into the crosswalk right as I was about to cross. Somehow, I was able to throw on the brakes and avoid slamming into his fender and either bouncing back onto the pavement or rolling onto his hood.

After assorted angry oaths erupted from my mouth, the driver rolled down his window, and his face displayed a mixture of exasperation, embarrassment, and outright shock. “I didn’t see you. I’m sorry,” he said plaintively. I returned to running and he to driving.

And good on him for doing that. Apologizing is exactly what one is supposed to do when one cocks up.

I mention this unfortunate perambulatory episode because it stands in sharp contrast to what seems to me be a long-term trend: elites screwing up and never truly saying they are sorry.

Consider the recent case of Alice Sebold’s “apology” for sending a man to prison for a crime he did not commit.

Back in the early 1980s, the future best-selling author was attacked in a park and viciously raped. Five months after the rape, she spotted a man, Anthony Broadwater, on the street and fingered him for the crime. During a police line-up, she initially identified another man as the attacking fiend, but then switched her identification to Broadwater. In the courtroom, Sebold identified Broadwater as her attacker, and the judge ignored various exculpatory evidence. Broadwater was sent up the river.

This autumn, the travesty of Broadwater’s conviction was overturned. Sebold released a public statement on Medium, which began “First, I want to say that I am truly sorry to Anthony Broadwater.” Thereafter the apology shifts the blame for Broadwater’s 16 years of incarceration and subsequent two decades as a social pariah from herself to the criminal justice system.

Nowhere in this blogpost did Sebold say, “I am sorry, Mr. Broadwater, for misidentifying you on the street, in a line-up, and in the courtroom. I was wrong.” Nor, reportedly, did Sebold deliver this apology to Mr. Broadwater herself. Her representatives sent him a copy of her statement — eight days after he was exonerated, and right before she posted it online.

The judge in the case is dead, and there is no sign the Sebold case’s prosecutors have apologized for ruining Broadwater’s life. The whole thing stinks.

But I suppose I should not be surprised. With astonishing regularity, elites in America fail to forthrightly take responsibility for getting things wrong.

Think about how many MSNBC talking heads went on and on about how Trump and Russia were worse than Watergate. Think about how many Fox News blabbermouths peddled bizarro stories about the 2020 election, which some folks trusted and acted upon and now are languishing in jail. Have any of them said, “I was wrong. Please forgive me”?

Think about the various artists and writers and artists who back radicals and extremists who set fires to cities and stoke domestic terrorism. We hear crickets but not admissions of wrongdoing.

And we cannot forget the many government officials who have not apologized for their maladroit handling of COVID-19 over the past two years. Or the various officials — elected and otherwise — who got us into wars that were avoidable and bungled their execution? And has any president or member of Congress ever said “I’m sorry” for their role in running up tens of trillions of dollars of debt that will saddle our children and grandchildren?

The list of offenders seems never-ending.

“Mistakes were made…” they so often say, without saying who made them and will be held to account. Or they point the finger at members of the other political party, or the system, or deny there is anything to be contrite about. Whatever the excuses, the message is the same: We. Owe. You. Nothing.

Why is this?

Perhaps it is because elites are so terribly obsessed with their personal brands and the power and benefits they deliver. Maybe they think they will lose standing and power if they face the nation and honestly express contrition. Maybe they also assume folks will just move on. For sure, some people do move on. Others do not. One wonders how many readers Sebold has lost.

Humans are cut from crooked timber. We all make mistakes, and we all know that we do. The guy in that truck that I hollered at — he gets that. So do most normal people.

Things will not get better in this country until more of its leaders and influencers recognize they have a responsibility to the public, and to fess up forthrightly when they screw up.

Kevin R. Kosar (@kevinrkosar) is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and most recently the co-author of Congress Overwhelmed: Congressional Capacity and Prospects for Reform.

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