Magazine | February 25, 2019, Issue

Famous Apologies: Revised Ralph Northam™ Edition

Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton in 1995 (Reuters)

Bill Clinton

I don’t think there’s a fancy way to say that I have sinned. It is important to me that everyone who has been hurt know that the sorrow I feel is genuine — first and most important, my family, my friends, my staff, my cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family, and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness.

And yet, upon reflection, I have to wonder. I mean, a lot of people are in and out of the Oval Office every day. And I know the record will show that the little room off of the office is mostly kind of a storage-type deal, not really the place anyone would go for something like what’s been described. Was it me? Honestly, I don’t know. Not for certain. Yes, I have smoked cigars in the past. In this specific instance? Impossible to say with any real accuracy. So, um, let’s put a pin in that earlier apology and move on.



When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplex’d in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum. Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him, thus.

Or, you know, maybe cooler heads prevail’d.
Desdemona is dead, yes, that’s clear from all
Of the disorder in the chamber. Not sure it’s my
Fault, truth be told. So, yeah, let me take back
Those early words and say instead that bad stuff
Happened — no one is denying that — but who or
What is responsible remains shrouded in mystery.
Let’s move on, and not dwell upon’t.


Kanye West

If I had to do it all over again, what would I have done? Would I have worn a leather shirt? Would I have drank half a bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? If I had a daughter at that time would I have gone on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else?

Upon much reflection and prayer and private meditation, I have decided that yes, emphatically yes, I would do it all over again. Including the leather shirt. No, wait, especially the leather shirt.


Judgment at Nuremberg, speech by Ernst Janning

I am going to tell them the truth. I am going to tell them the truth if the whole world conspires against it. I am going to tell them the truth about their Ministry of Justice. Werner Lampe, an old man who cries into his Bible now, an old man who profited by the property expropriation of every man he sent to a concentration camp. Friedrich Hofstetter, the “good German” who knew how to take orders, who sent men before him to be sterilized like so many digits. Emil Hahn, the decayed, corrupt bigot obsessed by the evil within himself. And Ernst Janning, worse than any of them because he knew what they were, and he went along with them. Ernst Janning — who made his life excrement, because he walked with them!

But after a good solid eight hours of sleep and a meal without gluten, which is an inflammatory ingredient in many foods, I see that I was way, way too hasty in my previous remarks.


Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. But taken as a whole, when you look at the entire picture, Lord, from, like, a 50,000-foot perspective, maybe words like “sin” and “transgression” are a little too judgey. Am I an angel? Probably not (though you may differ, ha ha!). But I also don’t think I need to be apologizing 24/7 for stuff I probably didn’t even do, or if I did do, didn’t do on a continual basis.


Britney Spears

Oops, I did it again.
I played with your heart, got lost in the game.
Oh, baby, baby,
Oops, you think I’m in love,
That I’m sent from above.
I’m not that innocent.

But I was looking through
The photographs, more carefully
This time, this time,
And I gotta say, pretty sure I
Didn’t do it again.
So can we just move on?

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Law and Disorder

Amy L. Wax reviews Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing, by Issa Kohler-Hausmann.




Readers write in to address Kevin D. WIlliamson’s essay on Antifa and Douglas Murray’s recent comments on hate crimes.
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