Why Is It So Hard to Say 'My Bad?'

Carly Fiorina, who has repeatedly embarrassed herself since going into politics, was caught on tape mocking Barbara Boxer's hair. Here's her response:


"I regret this whole situation. I gave people the opportunity to talk about something petty and superficial," she said, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." "This is a very serious election year about serious issues."

Ugh. A few months back, during CHM, I nursed a crush on Bob McDonnell for his willingness to apologize (not to mention his willingness to cite slavery as the unqualified cause of the Civil War.) A lot of commenters said that McDonnell deserved no such credit, because he was only doing what was in his interest. I disagree with the former, but not the latter.

In that vein, I'm struggling to see what Fiorina would lose in immediately saying, "You know what, that was wrong of me and I'm sorry. Having endured my share of cracks about my hair, I really should have known better." Also in that vein, I think I'd much rather deal with people serving their political interest, as opposed to serving their pride.

Perhaps I am being extreme, but I think the inability to say "I'm sorry" is a moral failing. It carries with it the sense that one is somehow perfect, or that voters are too stupid to realize that you aren't perfect.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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