It was the apology heard around the country -- except it pleased no one, it made things worse, and it wasn’t really an apology in the first place.
In an interview with NBC News Thursday, President Barack Obama expressed regret that the new health care law is causing some Americans to lose their current insurance plans, despite his famous insistence that this would not happen.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he told the network.
The president also insisted that he meant what he said when he affirmed that people would be able to keep their plans. But he added that he and his team “didn’t do a good enough job” of implementing it properly. That’s a far cry from “I’m sorry I deliberately mislead the American people,” and yet the story was nevertheless quickly repackaged as a dramatic mea culpa in which Obama finally fessed up to bilking the nation as a means of pushing through the Affordable Care Act.
As the apology aftermath unfolded, Obama’s critics in Congress were quick to pounce, flooding Twitter with a steady stream of “save your apologies” sentiments.
â€” Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) November 8, 2013
â€” Kenny Marchant (@RepKenMarchant) November 8, 2013
President says sorry for misleading people on O-care, but still defends & spins cancellations? I'm pushing for reform http://t.co/MLbzm2qsij
â€” Bill Cassidy (@BillCassidy) November 8, 2013
Mr. President, the American people don't want an apology. They want to keep their health care plans. http://t.co/WYElVJCCvi
â€” Doc Hastings (@DocHastings) November 8, 2013
Apology enough, or do you expect POTUS to do more for those tens of millions of Americans who will not "be able... http://t.co/4fhHpbxN0e
â€” JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) November 8, 2013
â€” Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) November 8, 2013
Obama’s expression of regret, a well-reasoned response to an interview question about the shortcomings of a complex piece of legislation, is also playing out in the conservative media. Conservative news host Bill O’Reilly, speaking on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning, said it was nothing more than a public-relations move, as Mediate reported. Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show Friday, said what the president really meant is “I’m sorry you believed me.”
Elsewhere, fingers were pointed, unsurpisingly, at the mainstream media, which some critics accused of trying to bury the story. Glen Beck’s The Blaze website chided the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal for not prominently featuring the apology story on the front pages of their morning newspapers, because apparently that’s still how people get news in Beck’s world.
Then, of course, there is the endless Twitter fury, with critics saying the president’s apology, which wasn’t really an apology, still rung hollow. This meme, posted by Twitter user @cullysmom, sums up the circular anger. It describes the “infamous left-handed Obama apology,” in which the president appears to blame Americans for believing his deception. Again, not really an apology.
Much of the criticism is oddly reminiscent of responses to Obama’s so-called Apology Tour, in which critics accused the president of sucking up to estranged world leaders in an effort to atone for the sins of his alienating predecessor. That narrative was debunked, but the criticism did not relent. Perhaps the only thing conservatives dislike more than the president is saying you’re sorry.
Apology? Empty gesture? Watch the NBC News clip and decide for yourself here.