The Corner

Mistakes and Apologies

I linked, below, to Doug Kern’s article against presidential apologies. But I should note that I don’t entirely agree with it; or at least, that admitting mistakes, a close cousin to apologizing, can be a good idea. In the late summer of 2003, the public was still trying to figure out what to think about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If the president had made a speech then, or even in early fall, forthrightly acknowledging that some of his assumptions were wrong but going on to make the case that the war was nonetheless right, his critics would no doubt have spent the remainder of his term saying, “Even the president now admits the war was a mistake!” But I think more people would have trusted him than trust him now.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.