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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Effective politics in 2018 means never having to say you’re sorry

For some people, apologizing and admitting they were wrong doesn’t come easy. Perhaps these individuals see expressing contrition as a sign of weakness, fearing if they do so once it might require doing it again…and again. Plus, saying sorry could shed a negative light on their other decisions and the ball might keep rolling downhill…

Such is certainly the case for Senator John McCain recently, whose new book is generating a ton of controversy as the Arizonan records reflections on his long and fascinating life. First McCain admitted he McCain bookregretted not choosing Democrat pal Joe Lieberman as his running mate in 2008 (and therefore strongly suggested he didn’t think highly of Sarah Palin) and it’s been revealed the critically ill senator made another headline-grabbing confession in his final tome: the Iraq War which he supported so passionately all those years ago was a mistake.

Robert Donachie reported in the Daily Caller, “Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona admitted Friday that the Iraq War was a mistake.

“’The principal reason for invading Iraq, that Saddam had WMD, was wrong,’ McCain wrote in his new book. ‘The war, with its cost in lives and treasure and security, can’t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it.’

“McCain was one of the biggest supporters of the initial surge into Iraq in 2003 and was actually one of the first Republicans to get behind it. The Arizona senator has previously stated that his support for the Iraq War rested with his experience during Vietnam, where he was captured as a prisoner of war. McCain believes America could have won.”

If McCain truly believes, or believed, that the Vietnam War was winnable he never specified what it would have taken to accomplish that feat. Hindsight is 20-20 but all the objective evidence indicates the North Vietnamese were nowhere near capitulating in the early 70’s. Meanwhile McCain spent five and a half years as a captive in a communist hellhole and nearly 60,000 Americans lost their lives in a conflict that haunts the American psyche to this day.

For what? It’s a fair question, just as today’s citizens question what was gained by invading Iraq.

Similar to Vietnam, there are few facts suggesting the Iraq War is/was ever going to end in a total “victory” since the ideology behind the anti-government resistance there was impossible to eradicate. As long as American troops remained in the Middle East there would be a multitude of Islamic radical groups eager and willing to die to kill the invaders. There’s over a thousand years’ worth of well-documented history to back up the assertion.

If you still don’t believe it, look at Afghanistan. Fifteen years and thousands of lives later (not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars expended) and we appear no closer to eliminating the Taliban than when we first got there. Yes, there were significant gains along the way – Osama bin Laden was found and killed and terrorist networks in that part of the world have been severely disrupted – but you can’t squelch a religious fire that will likely burn forever.

It’s intrinsic to Islam to continue the jihad. Until this truth is acknowledged American foreign policy will falter. Muslim teachings are the problem and they can’t be transformed with guns and bombs (only a small percentage of Muslims adhere to the strict doctrine, but facts are still facts).

Deep down McCain certainly realizes it -- though in what may be his last days he’s stubbornly holding onto the notion that the Iraq War was only about Saddam Hussein and WMD’s. If that were the case then why didn’t the fighting end after Saddam was captured, tried and executed and no nuclear or chemical weapons were ever found?

Did the U.S. intelligence agencies fail there too?

History will be the judge. For now, President Donald Trump commands the Oval Office and he seems to have a decidedly different view of the United States’ role in the Middle East. Trump based his campaign on the notion that the Iraq War was a mistake (i.e., McCain’s newly articulated view) and was chastised to no end by the Republican establishment. Trump’s opinion was more in line with the American mainstream and his foreign policy thus far has been a success.

For his part, Trump doesn’t believe America needs to apologize. Mel Leonor of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump on Friday told U.S. Naval Academy graduates that America has become ‘a lot’ stronger recently and that ‘we are not going to apologize for America.’

“’And we are respected again,’ Trump said in a speech to graduates and their families gathered in Annapolis, Maryland. ‘I can tell you that. We are respected again.’…

“’And in case you haven't noticed, we have become a lot stronger lately,’ he added. ‘A lot. We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America. No more apologies.’”

Anyone who’s followed Trump throughout his three-year political career (and his life) knows the longtime celebrity real estate tycoon isn’t much for rehashing the past, apologizing and mending fences. In fact, the only Trump-ian apology that comes to mind was the one he issued after the infamous Access Hollywood “locker room talk” tape surfaced about a month prior to the 2016 election. Even then (during the taped message) Trump got in his points about changing the country and departing from the disastrous direction set by Hillary Clinton and her “kind” in Washington.

In his Annapolis address last Friday Trump of course mentioned the beefing up of the military that’s taken place at his direction, clearly something he’s very proud of considering American strength translates into American “wins” in the foreign realm. Trump’s rhetorical style differs markedly from Obama’s – did the former president ever actually threaten to use the U.S. armed forces’ obvious advantages over rogue regimes like North Korea?

No one can say at this point how it will all turn out but Trump’s “no apologies” philosophies are reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” mantra throughout the Gipper’s presidency. Weakness and capitulation get you nowhere, something the Iranians and NORK dictator Kim Jong-un appear to be learning the hard way with Trump at the helm.

Trump’s blunt style isn’t conducive to apologizing, which certainly sends his leftist Democrat detractors into a tizzy. Take for example the president’s recent tough talk on illegal immigrant gang MS 13 (Trump called them “animals”). Democrats tore into Trump for the harsh language – but in criticizing him for it they’re just playing into his hands.

Jonathan S. Tobin wrote at National Review, “[D]espite Trump’s very real predilection for inflammatory statements about illegal immigration, liberal outrage about his stands is political poison outside of blue strongholds. Focusing on gang violence is exactly what much of the country thinks the federal government ought to be doing, and most of the victims of such gangs are themselves immigrants.

“Trump filled a vacuum of governmental indifference to these concerns. His willingness to talk about the problem — albeit often in a manner that is unbecoming of a president — has persuaded those who felt they were being ignored to stay loyal to him despite the ongoing chaos in the White House and the media’s often single-minded focus on his flaws and scandals. In the eyes of Trump voters in Suffolk [New York] and elsewhere, the debate over whether murderers should be called ‘animals’ is mere virtue-signaling from liberal elites, and more proof that these elites have lost touch with the concerns of ordinary voters.

“Democrats are optimistic about a future in which minorities will make up a larger portion of the electorate. But in 2016, they saw what happens when a party whose support is increasingly limited to minorities and educated whites ignores the concerns of the working class. Democrats’ assumption that Trump’s MS-13 gambit is merely more evidence that he is hurting himself with the voters may be another such mistake.”

Indeed. The liberal media freak-out over Trump’s “animals” comment was one of the more curious episodes of his young presidency. Trump was unequivocally speaking about MS 13 gang members – not the larger pool of immigrants, legal or otherwise – and yet Democrats and commentators jumped all over him trying to connect his statement with his earlier offered campaign views on “rapists and murderers” crossing our borders to prey on Americans.

Conservatives care about every topic – fiscal discipline, strong military, the social agenda – but there probably isn’t an issue in today’s political lexicon that gets people more animated than immigration. And it’s because illegal immigration – and the problems associated with it – is visible every day of the year.

Just the other day I was driving in my northern Virginia suburb and I noticed all the store signs in a local strip mall were in Spanish. “Lavanderia” (Laundromat), etc... The entire neighborhood morphed into a little slice of the third world within a decade. This isn’t California, right?

President Trump tapped into the intense feelings of those who’ve witnessed their homes and neighborhoods’ deterioration due to the federal government’s unwillingness to protect the border – or enforce the existing immigration laws. While polls show Americans would be inclined to show compassion for the “Dreamers” by allowing them to stay and work legally, there’s no ambiguity when it comes to dealing with the other elements of decades’ worth of failures.

If Trump called MS 13 gang members “animals,” it’s because they are non-humans. And people agree. We won’t see Trump saying he’s “sorry” for the remark either.

The apologizing is best left to new age corporations like Starbucks, which went out of its way this week to demonstrate how “repentant” it is for one of its store managers enforcing company policy (buy something for the privilege of using the bathroom) last month in Philadelphia. The chain closed down on Tuesday to allow employees to chat about “bias” and how to combat it. No joke.

Jim Treacher wrote at PJ Media, “Yeah, all the money in the world can't buy common sense, but it can buy a guest appearance by rapper and activist Common.

“Starbucks is actually branding this indoctrination event as ‘5/29.’ They're not calling it ‘Don't Be a Racist Day’ or whatever. It's just... 5/29. They're 9/11'ing it. Now there'll be pre-5/29 thinking and post-5/29 thinking. It's the day everything changes forever. This is a pivotal moment in human history, brought to you by the Starbucks Corporation.

“Prediction: No Starbucks employee in the entire world will be any more or less racist after this struggle session. Any Starbucks employee who is genuinely bigoted -- whether it's against black people, white people, or any other sort of people -- will continue to be that way. And the other 99% of the staffers will resent being scolded for things they haven't done, and/or grateful for a paid day off to dick around watching videos and talking about their feelings. Or at least what they want everybody to think their feelings really are.”

Treacher’s article contains the video Starbucks’ workers were required to watch. The “production” didn’t contain an apology, but if for some reason you’re in need of a good stomach-contents purge, feel free to view it.

Starbucks might surmise it’s getting a more “sensitive” workforce by subjecting their people to such politically correct indoctrination but a public that must put up with a values lecture along with the overpriced coffee isn’t likely to be impressed. In a world where decent folks are more and more hesitant to enforce the rules against anyone (lest they look “biased”), I’m guessing many customers are just going to get their cup ‘o Joe somewhere else.

Saying sorry definitely has its place in our culture but it really depends on what you’re apologizing for. Contrition for the sake of saving your rear or to make it look like something you’re not is truly stupid. Don’t believe it? Just ask President Trump – and John McCain.

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Never saying your sorry

Great piece Jeff, although I disagree that we could not have won any of the wars you mention. At issue is not whether we COULD win but whether we had the will and the resolve, something that clearly we did not. Islam wins such wars all the time by threats and intimidation until the general population submits just to make it stop. We got this ridiculous idea about "winning hearts and minds" and if you remember, in Iraq Donald Rumsfeld wasted a lot of time with that particular will-o-the-wisp, with his "light footprint" and the rest. The fact is, you have to make the public in an occupied country FEEL defeated before you can win their hearts and minds.

We did it in Germany and Japan, both nations deeply rooted in militarism. But it requires collateral damage. We were unwilling to do that in Vietnam (and we fought in 'Nam a police action, not a war, without going after the enemy aka not bombing the Ho Chi Minh trail until too late and not going after North Vietnam with adequate air assaults). Resolve is the key to pacification, as it is to military victory.

Of course, this was hard to do with the media in opposition, something Roosevelt and Truman did not have to worry about.