Trump: Never Apologize

Trump has a style: stick to the story, deny the obvious, accuse.

The tactic is working for Trump.

Book Cover: Ed Battistella

Good Apologies reaffirm the moral order. (But maybe you don’t want to do that._

One rule of thumb is that a good apology works to clear the air and repair the honor and dignity of the person who erred by showing that he accepts the moral order. For it to be a good apology one must recognize that a legitimate moral rule has been broken, that the guilty party acknowledges and respects the rule, acknowledges his guilt, and says he or she is sorry to the people injured by the error. I am grateful to Edwin Battistella, an Ashland, Oregon linguist, whose book Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology, published by Oxford University Press, got national recognition for teasing out what constituted a real apology.

Politics is filled with bad apologies. “I’m sorry if anyone was offended” is the classic bad apology. It puts the blame on the victim for being touchy and oversensitive, rather than the person who erred, and doesn’t acknowledge the truth that a legitimate rule was broken.

Donald Trump’s style is very different. He does not acknowledge his breeches of rules. He looks the TV camera in the eye and accuses his accuser or victim of dishonesty or weakness. It is a position of strength because it shows the person is above the law and not beholden to it, or that it is a bad law in the first place. There is a famous rule for Hollywood celebrities. “Never complain, never explain, which makes the point that celebrities carry on without giving others the satisfaction of excuses. They are above it. his early career young army officer Winston Churchill advised his senior officers not to correct an unfavorable newspaper story about a battlefield setback. “No matter how good the arguments were, the mere fact of advancing them would be everywhere taken as a sign of weakness.”

Apologies show weakness. They recognize the legitimacy of both a moral order higher than the individual and the dignity of the people who were offended.

Trump does not apologize, but he complains. He denies guilt, and accuses his accusers. He demonstrates that he is impervious to the law. Rules of honesty or consistency don’t apply to him.

Good apologies, as understood by Battistella, reaffirm moral order. Trump’s insight is that Americans are not insisting that the moral order be affirmed by their president. They want an affirmation of the hierarchy of power. That is what Trump affirms, in part by acting oblivious to inconsistency and obvious untruths.

Trump’s tactic has appeal. A great many Americans are unsettled by the USA being a smaller industrial power than China, the realization that Middle Eastern jihadists are not overwhelmed by the American military, that American workers are being squeezed by automation and foreigners, and that women, blacks, Hispanics, non-Christians, the LGBTQ community and others are all asserting equality with traditional social and power order. Trump denies the morality of those rules, dismissing it as “political correctness” and weakness. Equality may exits in law but traditional privileges still exist in tradition and practice. By not apologizing Trump shows his rejection of rules requiring respect. People liked his open disrespect to Mexico, Australia, and China and his taunting of the press. He shows his contempt for political correctness.

Trump: The vicious lie of birtherism was Hillary’s doing

Trump does not apologize for the hypocrisy of saying in speeches that we should hire American and buy American simultaneously with his Virginia winery making application for H-2 workers at $11.27 an hour .Click Here Or Here Similarly his manufacture of ties in China and suits in Mexico. Similarly his recent openly false assertion that his electoral college margin was a landslide greater than any since Reagan in 1984. The hypocrisy and inaccuracy is a breach of a moral order of honesty and integrity, but he ignores it, then insults his accusers.

When he announced that “birtherism” was a Hillary’s doing and that he should be credited for ending the lie he did not look sheepish. He was an actor committed to the story and he stuck to it with conviction. His supporters did no object to his 180 degree turn. Trump himself did not look back and he appeared to have no memory of the past and he was unconcerned with libraries full of videotape showing his story was blatantly untrue. He sold the story and he didn’t apologize. Then he attacked the dishonest press for calling him on it.

Trump’s gamble — which has paid off — was that Americans do not really demand honesty and consistency in a president. Enough voters wanted something else in a president: unapologetic assertion of power.

We see that not apologizing works politically. Honesty is not necessarily the best policy, and Trump has proven it. If people wanted morality in government presumably they would have elected someone other than Trump. Voters like the fact that he broke the rules. The slogan was not Make America Good Again. It was Make America Great Again. It is about power.

Trump harkens back to the rule of monarchs, an undemocratic but very stable form of government. Great Men don’t apologize. They don’t need to. They don’t follow the rules. They make the rules. They are the rules.

This article is from my blog: UpClose with Peter Sage I update it daily www.peterwsage.blogspot.com Check it out then follow me.