by Jim Harris
There was a time when politicians would sooner chew off their own limbs than accept responsibility for wrongdoing or incompetence. The usual procedure was to stonewall, blame political enemies or, in the worst case, resign, but never admit a thing.
Then, at some point, the bums learned that it was possible to come clean, apologize and still keep one’s job. It became apparent that Americans were a forgiving people who believed in second chances. Consequently, elected officials became experts at apologizing. Bill Clinton turned it into an art form. He went from saying “I feel your pain” to declaring “I feel my OWN pain,” and he set the standard for others to follow.
In the latest remorse-fest, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius accepted full blame for the “missteps” in efforts to roll out Obamacare. In an effort to deal with this and all future blunders and misdeeds, the President has thus created a new cabinet-level agency, The Department of Sorry Services (DSS).
At her first press conference, the Department’s new Director, Mia Kulpa, frantically shuffled through papers for 10 minutes before sobbing,” I’m sorry, I can’t find my prepared statement,” and running off in tears. Reporters in attendance were stunned but recovered quickly when told that there were free donuts in the lobby. President Obama later said that he considered Kulpa’s debut a rousing success.
At her next press conference, Kulpa was a bit more prepared. She introduced herself and said, “I know it may look like we’re not doing anything here at DSS, but we’ve actually been very busy apologizing to the American people. Just last week we sent out an apologetic e-card to everyone in the country. It had butterflies and rainbows. Unfortunately, to our horror, we discovered that it contained a virus which caused peoples’ computers to melt. For that, I am terribly, deeply sorry.” Ms. Kulpa then took a number of questions from the press corps, to all of which she answered, “Sorry, I don’t know.” She concluded by apologizing for the absence of donuts. (“The donut truck had a flat.”)
I managed to get a copy of the new DSS handbook, “Apology Do’s and Don’ts,” which is being distributed to all government employees. It contains quite a few interesting tips for repentant politicians and bureaucrats.
• Never text an apology. No one wants to see “I’m sorry! [sent from my iPhone]” Especially if they themselves can’t even AFFORD an iPhone.
• Don’t hire someone else to apologize for you. That is, unless the person is a stripper and has a whole routine that goes along with it.
• Don’t say, “I’m a gay American,” even if you are. That’s so 2004, and it won’t fly anymore.
• Don’t blame ADHD, nicotine withdrawal or “original sin” for your transgressions.
• Quote the Bible. Cry. Faint. Walk with a pronounced limp. Wear clothes that don’t fit.
• In extreme cases, you can do the “apology dance” (bow, scrape, sidestep, bow again).
The handbook goes on to say, “All of these techniques have been tested on rats, and they seem to work. Of course, before attempting any of them, always ask your doctor if your ego is healthy enough for apologizing.”
In the future, we can probably expect more sorry government innovations, like:
• A 24-hour government hotline that people can call to hear a generic auto-apology from a robot.
• All oaths-of-office will contain preemptory apologies for all the outrageous screwups for which the newly elected Bozo will undoubtedly be responsible.
Hollywood will most likely get in on the act, too, initiating a new award show, “The Pollies,” acknowledging the most repentant pols of the past year.
In the meantime, just sit back and enjoy the guilt parade. It’s the best we can expect from a bureaucracy that really doesn’t work anymore. Oh, and by the way, I’m sorry I criticized our wonderful government. I had a rough childhood, but that’s no excuse. I’ll try to do better.