After annihilating Harry Reid's re-election chances by mocking Las Vegas President Obama issued a "you misunderstood me" non-apology. First, the offending comments:
During the president's town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, he discussed the need to curb spending during tough economic times. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."
Despite President Bush's media-constructed reputation for ineloquence, I can't recall the former president sticking his foot in his mouth as many times in eight years as President Obama has in one. Naturally everyone in Nevada was offended by the off-hand insult of their premier city.
His statement Tuesday drew sharp criticism from Nevada lawmakers. "The President needs to lay off Las Vegas and stop making it the poster child for where people shouldn't be spending their money," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. "Las Vegas is suffering through one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and we cannot afford for the President to bring us down any further," added Republican Senator John Ensign. "Nevada has one of the most distressed economies in the country, and the President has done little to focus on job creation over the past year. Discouraging people from coming to our state to make a political point adds insult to injury," said Republican Congressman Dean Heller.
So let's take a look at the non-apology letter he sent to Harry Reid (but not to the citizens of Nevada).
I hope you know that during my Town Hall today, I wasn't saying anything negative about Las Vegas. I was making the simple point that families use vacation dollars, not college tuition money, to have fun. There is no better place to have fun than Vegas, one of our country's great destinations. I have always enjoyed my visits, look forward to visiting in a few weeks, and hope folks will visit in record numbers this year.
The needless proliferation of commas is a topic for another day... let's focus on the utter lack of an actual apology. The words "sorry" and "apologize" don't appear anywhere in the letter -- instead, the President uses extremely condescending language to defend his statement as-said and to belittle the offense taken by anyone who understood his plain language to mean anything different than this post hoc explanation.
The primary points of condescension are the phrases "I hope you know" and "simple point". "I hope you know" is crafted to appear to be expressing the sincere hope that you were not misunderstood, but what it really means is "I will be surprised by your stupidity if you don't believe". "Simple point" doubles down (ha! a Vegas pun!) on the implication that your preferred interpretation of the earlier statement is so obvious, clear, and easy to understand that only a fool would read it any differently. You aren't a fool, are you? Of course not! So "I'm sorry" and "I apologize" are not needed!
I don't expect this "apology" to soothe many hurt feelings, and I don't expect the President to receive a warm welcome if he actually goes to Nevada to campaign for Harry Reid's re-election. My bet is that the trip is canceled.