After watching George Bush try his hand at contrition, I immediately thought about the bullies I’ve known through the years. Most of them apologize at some point, but the apologies are never sincere and are only doled out with sarcasm or as a last ditch effort to get what they want when the bullying fails.
I think back to by grade school years and there were always bullies. Arrogant, insecure little boys that made themselves feel bigger by cutting other people down were despised and feared. I remember once, our resident bully John, in the middle of terrorizing a much smaller boy that had somehow ended up in his sights that day, John stopped and put his arms around the boy and said “I’m sorry man, you didn’t do anything wrong.” The two actually formed a sort of friendship after that and for the first time in the five years I’d known John, I actually had a little respect for him. He continued to be arrogant and a jerk, but the hardcore bullying stopped for the most part. I don’t know what kind of epiphany John had, but he admitted his mistakes at the height of his power and because he didn’t have to, I grudgingly accepted that he wasn’t all bad.
President Bush could have followed that model and admitted his mistakes when he was riding high on approval ratings that were bolstered up by his bullying behavior. He could have apologized for his inflammatory remarks like “bring it on” and “wanted dead or alive,” when it would have been sincere, but he didn’t. When the bully apologizes after having been beat down by the rest of the group, sitting in the puddle and looking around desperately for one friendly face, it garners no respect, it’s just pitiful and sad. Bush has earned his low approval rating. He has been bullying Americans and the rest of the world since his first day in office. Apologizing for his arrogant words, swaggering demeanor and bullying ways while he’s sitting in the mud looking for a way out means nothing. If he was viewed as weak before, he’s now moved into the realm of pathetic.