Editor’s note: This commentary originally appeared at OtherWords.org.
It’s apology season on the campaign trail.
After months of botched damage control, Hillary Clinton did what she needed to do when her bureaucratic scandal first erupted. The leading Democratic presidential candidate said she was sorry she didn’t use an official government email account when she led the State Department.
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And after Donald Trump disparaged Ben Carson — the soft-spoken neurosurgeon and No. 2 Republican candidate — for questioning the GOP frontrunner’s faith, Carson apologized to his competitor.
Even Trump himself is talking about it.
“I fully think apologizing is a great thing,” Trump told host Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show the other day. “But you have to be wrong. If you’re not wrong…”
At this point, Fallon completely lost it. Upon regaining composure, the host directed a goofy smile at the Donald, who said in a serious tone of voice:
“I will apologize sometime in the hopefully distant future if I’m ever wrong.”
What? Donald Trump has said so many cruel things that demand an apology lately that The Hill published a list of some 30 of his latest “notable insults” just last July. It included the one where Trump disparaged Senator John McCain for becoming a prisoner of war in Vietnam and referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.”
Then Trump kept saying nasty stuff, instantly rendering this litany completely out of date.
A Rolling Stone profile released in September, for example, relayed how Trump belittled fellow GOP hopeful Carly Fiorina’s looks, declaring “Look at that face! Would anyone votefor that?”
Trump also reprised an incestuous joke about his daughter Ivanka Trump that he’d made before. “Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one,” the real estate developer rambled to journalist Paul Solotaroff. “If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father…”
If he needs more evidence that he ought to learn how to apologize, he can check out Time magazine’s Trump insult generator. You enter someone’s name and it says something mean about them, with affronts drawn from the candidate’s own Twitter feed. When I tried entering a random name, it spat this out: “Melania Trump is a totally overrated clown who speaks without knowing the facts.”
Maybe it would help if Trump were to embrace the Jewish custom of making amends this time of year with people we have harmed in some way. It’s not that far-fetched, given that Ivanka converted to Judaism in 2009 while engaged to her now-husband Jared Kushner.
Their family keeps kosher and is pretty observant. That means they’re in the midst of the High Holidays, which culminate with Yom Kippur — as am I. Before this Day of Atonement, Jews are supposed to heal rifts with anyone we have wronged.
Ultimately, the custom of making amends is about doing your best to become more considerate. Donald Trump should do himself and everyone else in this country a favor and give it a try.
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