This has been a week for non-apologies. First, Narendra Modi and his full page letter and his blog post. Now, it's Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who finally broke his silence on the events that led to his arrest in New York and his consequent withdrawal from the race for the French presidency.
"What happened was not only inappropriate, it was more than that, it was a fault; a fault towards my wife, my children, my friends, but also a fault towards the French people, who placed in me their hope for change," he said in an interview.
"It was worse than a weakness, it was a moral fault of which I am not proud. I regret it infinitely. I have regretted it every day for the last four months and I don't believe I have finished regretting it," he said.
Strauss-Kahn had a lot of regrets – but it's still not enough. He insisted that there was no "aggression or constraint" in the sexual act with the hotel chambermaid, that the act was consensual, that there was no rape.
The pronouncements of regret haven’t done Strauss-Kahn any good. Journalist Oliver Picard said the ex-IMF boss’s manner was "egotistical", while others objected to him being interviewed by family friend Claire Chazal on TF1. Ecology minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said: "It was more like the Cannes film festival than watching a political interview," reports The Mirror.
Says the Sydney Morning Herald, "But while his scripted words were placatory, his angry, closed face was not. Mr Strauss-Kahn seemed to be talking of a strategic political error rather than expressing personal contrition."
Strauss-Kahn has taken a leaf out of the book written by the master himself: Bill Clinton.
"I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."
"You know, I have acknowledged that I made a mistake, said that I regretted it, asked to be forgiven, spent a lot of very valuable time with my family in the last couple of weeks, and said I was going back to work."
The public pressure forced him to make a more explicit apology, with a direct mention of the wrong done to Monica Lewinsky.
"I agree with those who have said that in my first statement after I testified I was not contrite enough. I don't think there is a fancy way to say that I have sinned. It is important to me that everybody who has been hurt knows that the sorrow I feel is genuine: first and most important, my family; also my friends, my staff, my Cabinet, Monica Lewinsky and her family; and the American people. I have asked all for their forgiveness. But I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required - at least two more things. First, genuine repentance—a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. Second, what my Bible calls a "broken spirit"; an understanding that I must have God's help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain."
Apologies by public personalities are rarely complete and black-and-white. A statement like Clinton’s final 'apology' are few and far between.
But it's an apology like Clinton’s which brings closure, the half-apologies such as those by Modi and Strauss-Kahn will cause the issues to simmer for a long, long time.
Published Date: Sep 20, 2011 17:27 PM | Updated Date: Sep 20, 2011 17:34 PM