Alert CNN: the definition of "apology" is not "a statement which must include nothing more than the assertion that an apology is being made."
A fellow named Eli Watkins at CNN (probably also "Eli Watkins" elsewhere) wrote Tuesday night
Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold struggled Tuesday to identify the line Donald Trump would have to cross before he lost his support, saying he'd "consider" pulling it when posed with a hypothetical scenario in which Trump said he liked raping women. Farenthold later apologized.
One wonders whether Farenthold apologized for refusing to say he's rescind his endorsement- or for even considering it, as the passage in question literally means.
It turns out the answer is neither. This came about when
Farenthold was interviewed by MSNBC host Chris Hayes on the political fallout from a leaked video showing Trump, among other things, saying he could grab women by the genitals.
Asking the Republican congressman about the recent wave of party leaders, like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan, pulling their support from Trump, Hayes tried to size up Farenthold's commitment.
"Until he does something so bad to make him worse than Hillary, I'm still in," Farenthold said.
Hayes posed a hypothetical: "If someone off the record, in a locker room -- this was not in a locker room, it was a workplace -- said, 'I really like raping women,' would that be locker-room talk?"
Farenthold answered, "Again, it depends, you don't know the entire context of all this."
"But you would be fine with that?" Hayes interjected.
"I don't like what he said," Farenthold began to answer.
So Hayes repeated his hypothetical: "If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying 'I really like to rape women,' you would continue to endorse him?"
"Again ... that would be bad. And I'd have to consider it, but again, we're talking about what Donald Trump said 10 years ago as opposed to what Hillary Clinton has done in the past two or three years," Farenthold said. "She's been a failure."
Hayes returned to the question and asked if there was a single, conceivable thing Trump could do to earn Farenthold's opposition.
"Absolutely, but I think actions speak louder than words," Farenthold said, dismissing the controversy over the leaked tape as a "kerfuffle."
We learn from Mr. Watkins that the Texas Republican promptly thereafter "tweeted an apology," which read
I apologize for my failure to immediately condemn anyone who would say something as outrageous as they like raping women. During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor's use of a hypothetical question. I do not, and have not ever condoned rape or violence against women. That is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be.
The question, however, was not whether he would "condemn" Trump, but rather whether "he would continue to endorse him." Further, "that is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be" does not answer the question. Worse yet, it's an attempt, however lame, to turn the question back on Hayes, implying the question is moot. (It's not.)
We have many examples of Republican politicians condemning Trump while refusing to pull their endorsement. Especially notable is the most powerful Republican in the country, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who charged the candidate with making a statement which is a "textbook definition of a racist statement," was "sickened" by Trump's recent remarks about his sexcapades. and refuses to rescind his endorsement.
Farenthold's argument "that is not the kind of man I believe Donald Trump to be" renders ever more evident the obvious answer to the query "If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying 'I really like to rape women,' you would continue to endorse him?"
The answer is "no," which is not only morally right but tactically safe. If "that is not the kind of man" Trump is, there is no reason to believe that he ever has been caught on tape saying he likes to "rape women." Trump may never have been caught on microphone even implying that, far much less likely to have used the term "rape." In the extremely unlikely event Trump is discovered definitively endorseing rape, Farenthold could easily join the huge number of Republicans who finally would unreservedly denounce Trump and his candidacy.
The failure to say "no" suggests that the congressman fears that Trump may actually be found to have explicitly endorsed this behavior. When a politician tries to de-legitimize a question by labeling it "hypothetical," demeans the premise by claiming- against overwhelming evidence- the subject is not that kind of guy, and boldly comes out against rape, he is not apologizing. He is playing the media and sidestepping accountability.