Every day, Teapublican leaders and their spokesmouths say something offensive to our president, to women, to minorities, to the poor, to non-Christians, and to Democrats. For example, Texas Senatorial candidate Chris Mapp recently said ranchers should be allowed to shoot “wetbacks.”Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin wrote that a pregnant woman is “just a host” and shouldn’t have the right to end a pregnancy. Ted Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel.” Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman said he is preparing legislation to ban gay players in the NFL. Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting contraceptives.
If you’re looking for an apology, good luck. You won’t find one.
While demonstrating stupidity, anger and hatefulness is part of the Teapublican belief system, apologizing and admitting mistakes is not. Perhaps the most extreme example is President George W. Bush. Having ignored more than 40 warnings of impending attacks prior to 9/11, having led the US into two costly and unnecessary wars, and having overseen the economic crash that led to the Great Recession, he said he couldn’t think of a single regret or mistake during his 8 years in office.
But when Democratic leaders make mistakes or say something offensive, even if it’s true, they tend to backtrack and apologize as quick as you can say Martin Bashir. (If you don’t watch MSNBC, you should know that Bashir attempted to do the impossible – educate Sarah Palin about the awful, disgusting truth of slavery. For that, he ultimately apologized and resigned.) This happens at every level of the party. For example, when Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack saw a video clip taken out of context from a speech by Shirley Sherrod, he fired her without even waiting for an explanation. Then, when the truth came out, he apologized to Sherrod. In another case, Congressional Democrats slashed funding for ACORN based on misleading and highly-edited videos produced by right-wing zealots.
The list of Democratic apologies and over-reactions is both lengthy and embarrassing.
It might seem like the right thing to do, but it leaves the impression that Democrats make more mistakes than Teapublicans. Worse, it makes voters believe that Democrats are gutless and lack the courage of their convictions. I think it’s great that most Democrats are willing to do three things that no Teapublican will…admit mistakes, apologize and compromise. But not at the expense of appearing spineless and lost.
So if you’re a Democrat running for office, let me give you a bit of advice. If you aren’t sure you’re doing the right thing, then you shouldn’t be doing it. And if you’re sure you’re doing the right thing, you should never apologize and only compromise when you get something equally important in exchange. Otherwise, voters will rightfully believe that the only thing you really care about is getting re-elected. And, if you’re not fighting for what you really believe, voters won’t, and shouldn’t, care if you lose.