Joe Barton, a Republican Congressman from Texas, had the right idea when he apologized to BP for what he said was a shakedown of the nice British oil company. He said Obamaís demand for a $20-billion restitution fund amounted to extortion. Barton later apologized for his apology and then he retracted the apology for the apology and then heÖoh, never mind. The important thing is that he showed that sense of fair play for which we Americans are famous. Maybe now that this important precedent has been established by a stand-up Congressman we can start making amends to others who have been harshly judged and roughly handled down through the years.
So before one more minute goes by let me apologize to Adolf Hitler. And Dick Cheney.
These men were natural born leaders who had flaws that got blown out of proportion. Hitler still gets bad notices in the press sixty-five years after he gave up the ghost. Just because Dick Nixon always looked like he needed a shave didnít make him a bad guy, did it? What about beauty being only skin deep? Dick Cheney has lips twisted into a permanent snarl. Does that necessarily mean heís an arrogant, reckless, power-crazed, ruthless, lying, slimy son of a bitch?
I think itís high time we apologized to Hirohito and Tojo and lots of other perfectly civilized Japanese for calling them sneaky, murderous devils. Just because of some unpleasantness at Pearl Harbor and Bataan we seem to think we have the right to vilify them. Letís not remember Pearl Harbor. Most of those ships that sank there were obsolete anyway.
Now itís the Arabsí turn in the barrel. Every time you turn on the TV to get the straight dope from Sean or Rush or Glenn or Bill, our thought leaders, another Arab is getting bashed for some alleged outrage. Poor Bin Laden got so much bad publicity he dropped out of sight and went into hiding. I think we should follow Joe Bartonís example and extend a sincere apology to Osama for making him live in a cave. Nobody should have to live in a cave.
As for Hitler, itís just about impossible to have a quiet, rational conversation about the charismatic German leader. People canít seem to discuss the eloquent architect of the autobahns without taking extreme positions on one side or the other. Of course he had his faults ó who doesnít? But how many politicians these days could get up and talk for a couple of hours without the aid of a teleprompter? And those autobahns are still fun to drive on.
Can we talk about Dick Cheney for a minute? Now hereís a guy who canít catch a break from the media. The former vice president has been involved with the oil industry in one way or another for quite a long time, and, if you listen to the insinuations coming from the left, there was something unpatriotic and self-serving in this involvement. I guess vice presidents are supposed to be poor ó is that the idea? Do you think Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are poor? Was Ted Kennedy poor? How about Jay Rockefeller, Democrat from the hardscrabble, coal-mining state of West Virginia. Think heís poor?
What all this adds up to is one big, very good reason to apologize to Dick Cheney. All Cheney ever wanted to do was to do his best for his country. And what did he get in return? A lot of grief, thatís what he got. Well, maybe when Joe Barton gets finished apologizing to BP we can get him to apologize to Dick Cheney. And Bernie Madoff. And Goldman Sachs. And AIG. And General Motors. And Joe Stalin. And Vlad the Impaler.