Regrets only

Watching Barack Obama this past week was painful.  The new president went out of his way to apologize for America's flaws.  His groveling won rave reviews from some foreigners, the American mainstream media, and others who hold the United States in contempt. A key component to Obama's approach was apologetically groveling.

Expressing regrets about America is something that apparently comes easily to Obama.  Certainly he's had enough experience in apologizing for his own fumbles.

He said he was sorry for comparing his bowling prowess to the Special Olympics.  He had to call Nancy Reagan and apologize for saying she held séances in the White House.  Last May, he told a local TV reporter he was sorry for calling her "sweetie." 

The following month two Muslim women wearing headscarves weren't allowed to sit behind candidate Obama at a campaign rally.  Of course, he called them to express regret for the incident.

In 2007, he claimed we "have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."  That elicited Obama contrition.  The candidate had to apologize to his Democratic primary opponent for a staff memo referring to "Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab)."

Obama's penchant for apologizing is a Democratic presidential tradition.  He's well on his way to matching or even surpassing Bill Clinton.

You'll remember that Clinton apologized for slavery in Africa: "European-Americans received the fruits of the slave trade and we were wrong in that."  In Rwanda, he apologized for not doing anything earlier in his administration when massacres killed more than 700,000 Hutus and Tutsis.

In Guatemala, he said said he was sorry about America's support of military and intelligence units in our fight against Communism in the region.  At home he apologized to black World War II veterans who didn't receive the decorations to which they were entitled.  He apologized to the survivors of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

The president who gave phone sex a bad name had these words for his contributors when the scandal could no longer be hidden:

"I've done my best to be your friend, but I also let you down and I let my family down and I let this country down."  Clinton even managed to apologize for an apology.  After admitting in a speech that he'd "raised your taxes too much," he caught heat from Congressional Democrats and decided hiking taxes had been the right thing to do:

So, if I said anything which can be read in any other way, then I should not have said that.  And I certainly did not mean to do that, and I accept responsibility for it, because I am very, very proud of what I did.

No doubt, Clinton was proud of raising taxes.  But in terms of spending other people's money, he's a miser next to the current president.  And we'll not hear any apologies for that from Obama.

Mike Bates wrote a weekly newspaper opinion column for more than two decades.  He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths."