SHMULEY BOTEACH COLUMN
Why can't Clinton and Trump say sorry?

BOTH of America's presidential candidates seem to have a problem uttering the simple words "I'm sorry".

One of the holiest actions in Judaism is to say "I'm sorry for my transgressions".

This is what Jews all say on Yom Kippur and we believe that God accepts our apology.

Strong men and women are those who believe in accountability and are not remiss in taking responsibility for their actions. To apologise is to show conviction and strength of character.

To withhold an apology is to promote the fraudulent belief that we are somehow infallible. It's to deny our essential humanity.

In this foul American election season, politicians of all stripes seem to believe that admitting a mistake is a sign of weakness rather than of vigour and integrity. It is not a sign of feebleness to admit mistakes.

All humans are imperfect. In Judaism we are enjoined to avoid not just wrongdoing but even the perception of it.

This is especially true of public officials, whose actions are meant to inspire the masses.

To apologise is not to admit culpability but rather to respect the public. But to our politicians today, an apology is often an admission of guilt.

Both Hillary Clinton and Dondald Trump seem to share this stubbornness.

Hillary will offer a non-apology apology when cornered, as in the case of her email debacle. She may not be in legal jeopardy, but the FBI investigation proved she misled the public on numerous occasions about various aspects of her emails, such as whether any were classified.

The investigation into her handling of the events in Benghazi did not reveal any evidence of misconduct, but the perception remains that she was less than forthcoming about her responsibility.

For this and more, Hillary should come before the public and say she is sorry for losing the public's trust.

She should prove to her critics that she does not believe she is above the law.

Donald Trump maintains he has nothing to apologise for no matter what he says - or tweets. Instead of debating whether he tweeted a Jewish star or a sheriff's badge, Trump could have easily apologised for retweeting an image that apparently came from a white supremacist's social media feed.

I do not believe for a moment that Trump harbours any antisemitism. But he's got a lot of Jew-hating crazies who are ardent supporters.

In suggesting the various issues for which both Clinton and Trump owe the public an apology, I'm hoping that they might just begin the process of taking public responsibility for their actions.

They owe it both to the American people and to the high office they seek.


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