Dear Mitt Romney,
As Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, draws near, I have done my level best to say "I'm sorry" to those I've wronged – to mend those rifts I've helped to create.
Doing so hasn't been easy. Actually, it's been tortuous.
Which is why lately I've been thinking a lot about contrition, about remorse, about the internal strength it takes to apologize. And I've been thinking about how difficult a task asking for forgiveness actually is, about how much is required for someone to engage in the process.
It demands emotional sensitivity, a sublimation of the ego, psychic courage and generosity (when an apology is sincere).
And the more I've thought about the concept of apologizing, the more I've thought about how only true leaders – leaders who have our best interests at heart, at least some of the time – are capable of both taking credit for real accomplishments and apologizing for missteps.
Only a worthy leader, a leader who is concerned about the needs of others, can step back from his or her position of power and say, "I'm sorry."
President Barack Obama has done this, time and again.
He's apologized for personal missteps on countless occasions. He even did so in his first days in office when he made a careless joke at Nancy Reagan's expense and then called her to sincerely apologize.
That impressed me.
And Obama's apologized for the misdeeds of our nation and his missteps as leader of that nation. Not all of them, to be sure. But he has expressed remorse to many parties, both domestic and international, which have been wronged by our policies. He's apologized to Afghans for the Koran burning which took place on a U.S. base. He apologized to Poland for an unintentional verbal offense.
He even, in a handwritten note, apologized to a couple for choosing a rally location where they were meant to be be married.
The list goes on, of course.
Which led me to think about you, Mitt, about how you seem to have a penchant both for making offensive statements and not apologizing for them. To confirm my impression, I went to Google and searched for "Romney apologizes." Do you know what the first three hits are?
And I thought, "I expect you to apologize, Mitt Romney."
- An Onion article, a piece of satire: Romney Apologizes to Nation's 150 Million 'Filthy, Starving Beggars'
- Another piece of satire, this time from Jimmy Fallon: Mitt Romney Apologizes to the 47%
- An offensive, non-apology from your days as a high school bully.
I thought, "If you want me to entrust this nation to your leadership, I expect you to be strong enough to be able to publicly express remorse when you slip up, as we all do."
But – and correct me if I'm wrong – you do not. You do not seem to be a man equipped to both recognize and care about the suffering of others. You do not seem to be a man equipped to sublimate your ego. You do not seem to have the psychic courage necessary to express remorse.
Which is just one more reason why, as I think about atonement this Yom Kippur, I feel you're not the man I want leading our nation.
And I don't apologize for saying so.
This was coincidentally posted right after Mets102's "I Apologize." The titles aren't meant to play off one another, though it is quite comical.
Have an easy fast, those who will be fasting.