Friday, January 15, 2010

Apology 1 (Clinton)

Most of us know the story behind Bill Clinton's apology. He had lied about the kind of relationship he had with a female intern and later tried to 'come clean.' The text of his public apology may be found below, but I will do some color coded analysis to keep this process as quick as possible.

Green is good
Blue is bad
Red is questionable

"Good evening. This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions, both public and private. And that is why I am speaking to you tonight. As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action. I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting my family.

The fact that these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a consideration, too. In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an independent counsel investigation that began with private business dealings 20 years ago, dealings I might add about which an independent federal agency found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago. The independent counsel investigation moved on to my staff and friends, then into my private life. And now the investigation itself is under investigation. This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people. Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most -- my wife and our daughter -- and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. Nothing is more important to me personally. But it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It's nobody's business but ours. Even presidents have private lives. It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life. Our country has been distracted by this matter for too long, and I take my responsibility for my part in all of this. That is all I can do.

Now it is time -- in fact, it is past time to move on. We have important work to do -- real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face. And so tonight, I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months, to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century. Thank you for watching. And good night."

What can we learn from this transcribed apology? Are there any good indications of its genuineness? I think so. Below I'll explain my color choices:

The Good
- Claims complete responsibility
- Specifically names his sin
- Strong wording (wrong, failure, etc)
- Admits selfishness (lied to protect self)
- Willing to work to make it right

The Bad
- Still working to protect legal side of things
- Do lies really protect your family?
- Huge section complaining about investigation
- Attempt to change the subject

The Questionable
- Followed up green section with 'but'
- Are these 'motivations' really 'excuses'?
- Sense that he shouldn't have had to face this?
- Private matter jargon an easy way out?

Overall, this was a pretty average public apology. It had some good moments at the beginning, but had a bad middle. Remember, these evaluations are based only on word choice and given those parameters I'd give this apology a 'C' grade.


Elizabeth said...

First, I think this is an interesting choice of a blog series and should be fun to read.

Second, Good evaluation and kinder than many might give. I like the use of colours. I would have done the red "but" in blue.

Jecca said...

I was going to say what Liz said, almost exactly. Good work :)

Katie said...

I always get annoyed in public apologies where they talk about it being a "private matter"

While I agree that just because someone is a celebrity doesn't mean we have the right to pry into all aspects of their life.... BUT, if you are in a position where you are supposed to be an example and are a LEADER... then when you do something wrong that reflects on your character, it is no longer a private matter. You lost that privilege.