Wow. As far as I know, Donald Trump has only apologised twice since he emerged as a presidential candidate in 2015 — never apologise, never explain seems to be his usual rule. Once he said sorry after the famous ‘locker room’ talk Access Hollywood tape was leaked in 2016. And today, with his pal Piers Morgan, he offered an apology for retweeting Britain First’s videos, saying:
‘Here’s what’s fair. If you’re telling me these (are) horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.’
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 26, 2018
There have been whole books dedicated to the art of the presidential apology — Clinton’s apology for his affair with Monica Lewinsky remains a masterpiece of intelligent contrition. The fact that Trump has decided to come as close as he ever will to expressing true regret to Great Britain is significant. As Piers Morgan rightly says, ‘it means a lot to people in Britain.’ It does. Professional Trump haters will not like it. They will say that he didn’t actually say sorry (true) and that, if he ‘didn’t know’ about Britain First, he probably shouldn’t have retweeted their propaganda — he’s the President of the United States (also true).
But well-timed apologies from powerful men, even if hedged and insincere, can be amazingly effective. Most British people will today be thinking ‘well, fair enough’ — although of course we are still getting used to the strange truth that Donald Trump’s closest friend in our country is Piers Morgan. We may not be willing to admit it to ourselves yet, but many of us probably like Trump a lot more than we let on. His current flattery-of-the-UK campaign will do wonders for his standing in this country.