An apology in the world of politics is a funny thing.
Sometimes, the media is willing to forgive and forget, especially if the one doing the apologizing is aligned with most of the news media's political ideology. For example, if a Republican made the extraordinary blunder of calling the American soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan "wasted" lives, as Barack Obama did, I doubt that any degree of apologizing would matter to the mainstream press.
But Obama is smart enough to know when to make the most of a honeymoon, so after his awful comments Sunday night, he immediately -- and repeatedly -- apologized. "As soon as the word came out of my mouth, I knew it was wrong", he said, of using the term "wasted" in referring to the brave heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Listen, I don't pretend to know what's in the man's heart. Maybe he just had some sort of mental block and meant to say "wonderful" but "wasted" came out instead. Then again, he's always been against the war, so perhaps he slipped and let us in on what he really thinks of the U.S. military.
But I do know that he enjoyed the benefit of a bunch of headlines that reported on his apology and all is forgiven by the powers that be in the world of news.
As for Madame Hillary? No such luck. She was really put on the spot by a fawning Democrat at a recent town hall meeting in New Hampshire. The fellow basically told her how much Democrats want to support her all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but they just can't do so until she comes clean about her years-long support of the war. He pointed out that another presidential contender, John Edwards, has no problem with apologizing for his vote for the war in Iraq -- so why can't she?
Here was the perfect chance for Hillary Clinton to score easy points. Heck, it was an unopposed lay-up, a slow curve ball right over the heart of the plate. Sure thing, she could have said, I'm happy to apologize. Despite my earlier claims of having done personal research that led me to support the war, I was just flat-out wrong and should never have done so. I apologize!
But naturally, the woman's outsized ego and massive hunger for power didn't allow her to say that. Her reply was a lame, cheap shot that laid the blame at President Bush's doorstep. "It was George Bush who should take responsibility for leading us into war!" she bellowed. "If I knew then what I know now, I would have not voted the way I did" she said to thunderous applause. Clinton simply refuses to give the Democratic base what they want: an apology for flip-flopping on the war.
Americans appreciate humble politicians. We want to like them, to trust them, to believe that they're human. We're sick of the showboating, and the empty promises.
I'm not planning to vote for any Democrat in 2008, but I'll predict right here and now that the Democratic ticket will be Barack Obama/John Edwards. If the 2008 election will center on the war (and I have some doubts that it will), Obama is the only presidential candidate who has consistently and truthfully opposed it all along. John Edwards is more than obliging to the Democratic base by apologizing for his turnaround.
And ultimately, too many people despise a woman like Hillary Clinton who is such a transparent political opportunist. Obama represents that fresh-faced outsider who looks good, sounds good, seems so comfortable in his own skin and sings the hits that Democrats love to hear.
I never pretend to be the smartest person in the room. And I'm no political insider. But I'll bet doughnuts to dollars that Obama beats Clinton for the nomination.
Clinton isn't nearly as smart as they say she is.