Friday, August 15, 2014

Joe: sorry for everything but the thing that upset us

I'm sorry, Joe Hockey. I'm sorry if there is any suggestion at all, that I or anyone else I know doesn't believe you, and thinks your apology has all the sincerity of the school bully who would trip kids over in the hall and say “sorry”.

The audio is here, and I'm going to take the liberty of parsing the “apology” Hockey gave in a soft ego-stroking interview with Ben Fordham on 2GB – audio here.

Ben Fordham introduces the subject by offering the “out”: “Well, words can be taken out of context … the poorest people don't have a house, a roof over their heads, let alone a car to drive … Do you feel like your words have been misinterpreted, or were they words you shouldn't have chosen in the first place?”

Hockey: “I am really, genuinely sorry [pause] that there is any suggestion, any suggestion at all, that I or the government does not care for the most disadvantaged in the community.

Read that again. He's not sorry for being insulting or ignorant, he's sorry that someone else might have interpreted his words, which he then repeats.

“I'm sorry about that interpretation, I'm sorry about the words.”

Joe, this still falls short of apologising for the insult. In the first half of the sentence you're blaming the listener – “sorry for the interpretation” – and the second half, you leave open to interpretation rather than saying something clear and unequivocal.

Hockey: “And why? Because all of my life, as everyone who knows me knows, all of my life, I have fought for and tried to help the most disadvantaged people in the community.”

This is not actually responsive to the original insult. You're saying “You shouldn't be upset with me because I'm a nice guy”. Still falling short of an apology.

“For there to be some suggestion that I have evil in my heart, when it comes to the most disadvantaged in the community, is upsetting. But it's more upsetting for those people in the community.”

No, Joe, people were upset by you, not alongside you. The fake solidarity thing kind of rubs in the salt.

“So I want to make it perfectly clear to the community that if there's any suggestion that I don't care about you, or that I have evil intent towards you, I want to say that couldn't be further from the truth, and I'm sorry for the hurt.”

Once again, the apology is attached to “any suggestion that”.

Joe Hockey didn't apologise for the insult, or for being plain wrong. He apologised for the interpretation, the suggestion, for the words. 

He still thinks he's right.