New Rule: If Mitt Romney, Karl Rove and Sarah Palin all think America has never done anything wrong, we must be doing something wrong. Look at them: an empty suit, an empty heart and an empty head. It looks like the news team on Good Morning Hell. And what they've been competing about lately is who would not apologize the most. America is infallible, and apologies are horrible things that must never, ever be given. Except by me when I make a joke about the Pope. "We're perfect -- deal with it," is their new handshake. But I say, what's wrong with America occasionally saying, "I'm sorry"? Because these are the three sorriest white people I've ever seen.
If in your eyes America can do no wrong, you should really look into Lasik surgery. There's the rational, mature assessment of our country: that it's a great nation -- especially if you like fried foods -- but it also has its faults. And then there's the Republican view: that it's perfect and pure in every way and it's always right all the time, just like Leviticus and Ronald Reagan.
If the founders were alive today, Republicans would be giving them shit because the Preamble to the Constitution says, "In order to form a more perfect union? Hello, it's already perfect! Why are you suggesting American apologetics, Ben Franklin?"
One of the things that makes Republicans furious about our current president is their idea that Obama is always apologizing for America's biggest mistakes. Unlike President Bush. Who was one of America's biggest mistakes.
In his first week as president, Obama did an interview with Arab TV in which he said, "We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect." Thought crime! And then he went to Cairo and violated one of those absolute eternal rules the Right Wing is always making up out of thin air: "The president must never apologize on foreign soil. Lest our allies begin to doubt that we're assholes. "
But what did Obama actually say to make Karl Rove's head explode and the popcorn fly out? Cover your children's ears: When he was asked if he believed in American exceptionalism, he said he did, the same way "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism." Yes, our so-called president actually said people in other countries might like their countries better. I was so shocked I nearly dropped the Bible I was using to help me masturbate into my gun.
In her farewell speech -- if only -- Sarah Palin kept telling us "how she's wired." Now I'm not a doctor, or an electrician -- but this is faulty wiring, this worldview that, in her words, "we should never apologize for our country." Really? Never? Not for slavery? Or Japanese internment camps, or if we tortured the wrong guy at Guantanamo? The Indians? Nothing, Sarah? "The Real Housewives of Atlanta"? Shouldn't John McCain apologize for... you?
When did intractability become a virtue? Mitt Romney's new book is called No Apology: The Case For American Greatness. You can find it at Borders, in the "Suck-Up" section. It's such a perfect title, combining paranoia with arrogance: "No one has yet asked me to apologize but, if someone ever does, fuck them."
Conservatives think apologizing is a sign of weakness. It's what liberal pussies do, when they're not busy driving electric cars and feeling empathy. When in fact it's the weak and the scared who are too insecure to apologize. Apologies are actually a sign of strength. That's why six-year-olds hate them.
In Rwanda, after a genocide that killed a million people, they set up special courts where people stood up and said, "Hey, sorry I macheted your entire family. My bad." And believe it or not, in most cases, that was enough. That's the power of an apology. A recent study reveals that doctors who are willing to apologize to patients for their mistakes are sued for malpractice about half as much as doctors who aren't willing to apologize.
Apologies can do great things, and they can enable great things. And if you still don't believe me, I have three words for you: make-up sex.
Bill Maher is the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Fridays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO. Guests on this week's program include Jay Leno, Chuck Todd, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Sam Harris and Jeremy Scahill.