Trump’s apology

The Trump Titanic hit an iceberg yesterday, or an iceberg was moved into its path. The captain of the ship issued an interesting apology on his Facebook page last night (video below, via USA Today).

Here is the text:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong and I apologize.

I have traveled the country talking about change for America, but my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid-off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.

Let’s be honest, we’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today.

We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were eight years ago and Washington is totally broken. Hillary Clinton and her kind have run our country into the ground. I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.

There is one apparent difference between Trump and the Trump enthusiasts with whom we have become familiar. Trump has been persuaded that he has to pronounce an apology for things he has “said and done.” The video that prompted the apology did not simply reflect Trump’s vulgarity. It betrayed indefensible behavior in his own immortal words. Trump rightly shies away from acknowledging as much.

Let’s be honest, indeed. The apology focuses on words — “I’ve said some foolish things” — but there is more to it than that.

The apology takes a shortcut. When Trump says “there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” he doesn’t quite complete the thought. He is saying the Clintons have said and done worse than he has said and done. He is saying that they have more for which to apologize than he does. It wasn’t a persuasive argument when we made it to our parents or we heard it from our kids and it’s not impressive from a candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Although Trump distinguishes his words and deeds from those of the Clintons, he seems to have something in common with Bill. Hillary is sui generis. We can agree on that. We may have to go to Shakespeare to find her like. But does Trump think he can defend himself by arguing that she is worse than he is? Here he leaves room for ambiguity. Perhaps he is promising to make the case that she is worse than the “better man” he will “be…tomorrow.”