Clichés aside, fired IRS Commissioner Steven Miller got our goat – or, more precisely, stuck in our craw.

Though he apologized for the mistakes made by others, he never admitted culpability or said “I’m sorry” for the Tea Party targeting.  You could say that Attitude is endemic among Washington’s elite.  Or that accountability simply isn’t a politician’s strong suit.

In our perspective?  Wrong-wrong-wrong.  Today, apologies and regrets have become a matter of fact, issued for actions as trivial as forgetting to put down the toilet seat (heard that one before?) or behaviors as egregious as lying and cheating.  Think:

  • How often do you say “sorry” automatically for missing a meeting, forgetting to RSVP, or delivering a work product later than expected?
  • What’s your tone of voice when you apologize?
  • Why do you give your regrets … because it’s the right thing to do; someone’s expecting it; or, by saying it, you get what you want?

We could blame the Greeks for these wrongful apologies, since the word’s origin means “verbal defense.”  Often, when an “I’m sorry” is offered, it’s done more from a position of power and control.  Psychologists tell us that offenders do maintain their ego positions from an insincere sorry-sorry, even a non-apology. 

Which is the problem.  Apologies do carry an immense forgiveness factor, one that is immediately suspect when inauthenticity lurks.  That lack of genuineness in apologies might be attributed to our general 24/7 states of being, by the reign of non-accountability, or, simply, by no training in Manners 101.

How much easier to live in the 1930s, with a servant who expresses regrets for his mistress … in song.