Friday, July 24, 2009

Subverting opportunity for apology into opportunity for self-praise

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — A black police officer who was at Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s home when the black Harvard scholar was arrested says he fully supports how his white fellow officer handled the situation.

Sgt. Leon Lashley says Gates was probably tired and surprised when Sgt. James Crowley demanded identification from him as officers investigated a report of a burglary. Lashley says Gates' reaction to Crowley was "a little bit stranger than it should have been."

Asked if Gates should have been arrested, Lashley said supported Crowley "100 percent."


Obama’s was not an apology for an unfair assertion about Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge Police.

Rather, Obama’s was a reassertion of the righteousness of Obama’s belief that the police acted stupidly.

Obama’s statement was also an apology for not asserting (police stupidity) in a rhetorically slick fashion. Basically, it was an apology for getting caught at being truthful and forthright. Obama was saying:
I apologize for not having been more skillful at misleading the yokels. Not you guys, of course! YOU guys would have known what I meant. However, I should have said it in a way which would appease the yokels. I did not say it in a way which would appease the yokels and yet signal to you smart people. For that, I apologize.

Obama’s is a slick tactic: apologize not for the transgression, but rather for displaying lack of skill. The true narcissist will favor an apology for a lack of skill in an area in which the narcissist has demonstrably excellent skill. Therefore, even as the narcissist “apologizes”, the narcissist is effectively drawing attention to himself for having such wonderful skill in this area.

Thus, we see Obama’s “apology” was actually an overt celebration of Obama’s rhetorical skill. In fact, and maybe I’m over conditioned, but I could barely hear even a fake apology over the loud clanging implicit praise of The One’s rhetorical skill, i.e.
I’m usually so fantastic and wonderful at rhetoric, and I apologize for not being as fantastic and wonderful as usual. There! Aren’t I reasoned and wonderful and magnanimous for apologizing?! Of course I am. Now let me lecture YOU about jumping to conclusions, and about race. You will love it.

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