Political Apologies and American Democracy
By Peter F. Goolpacy, PhD
The latest political gaffe by Joe Biden produced a whirlwind series of
political apologies on several syndicated radio and TV talk shows last week.
For those who have been stuck in a cave, Senator Biden, in an interview with
the New York Observer, made the following comment about Democratic Senator
(and 2008 presidential candidate) Barack Obama"... you got the first
African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking
I mean that's a storybook, man."
Of course, most of the coverage has so far failed to bring up Biden's 2006
racial gaffe in a comment about the Indian-American community"You cannot
to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.
not joking." But that's another story.
Now, Obama's immediate reaction to Biden's "clean" and "articulate"
comment was to dismiss the remark by pointing out that he wasn't personally
offended, which no doubt offended many prominent "clean" and
"articulate" members of the African American community who, for very good
reasons, were offended by Biden's comments.
Once Obama's handlers realized the implications of simply brushing off
Biden's comment Obama issued an "official" statement that was a
little more specific (and a lot more acceptable to the African American
community"I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but
they were historically inaccurate. African-American presidential candidates
like Jesse Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton
a voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one would
I guess the next step will be for Senator Obama to extend political
apologies to Colin Powell,
Condoleezza Rice, and presidential candidate Alan Keyes for failing to
identify so many other clean and articulate African American "Republicans"
For his part in this political mess Biden appeared on Al Sharpton's
radio show to defend himself"Al, I wasn't in any way criticizing you or
Jesse. I was not making a historical reference. I said what I said, and then
there was a comma, and I said, 'and clean,' meaning fresh, new, exciting...
The truth of the matter is you're one of the most articulate people in the
The saddest part about Biden's groveling and repeated political apologies,
that Biden, a senior and very distinguished Senator from Delaware, has one
the most active voting records in the Senate supporting civil rights
legislation. He must surely be wondering how this one statement can get him
into this kind of trouble with a community he has spent so much time
But that is the nature of American politics todayone misstatement, which
ironically was a poorly worded attempt to complement another candidate for
presidency, is so much more relevant to Biden's presidential hopes than
of solid support for civil rights.
Doesn't this speak volumes about the health of American democracy today?
We hope that you've enjoyed this article on Political Apologies and American
Democracy. If you have any commentaries of your own on this political gaffe
or any other political apologies we'd like to hear about them.
Learn more about apologizing.
Political Apologies to Famous Apologies