Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump stunned the electorate last night with an extended apology. He did so without the sort of “mistakes were made” equivocation so often heard from establishment politicians. His confession was direct and full of humility.
“America, I ask you to forgive me,” he began, “for what I have done and what I have left undone. I humbly repent and promise to do better.” The apologyathon at his New York press conference was preceded by setting the social media world aflame by tweeting simply “I have sinned. #repenting.”
At the press event, Trump acknowledged a litany of what he labeled “offenses against God and man.”
“Forgive me, Capt. Khan, for insulting the honor of your sacrifice and your religion.
“Forgive me, Sen. Cruz, for alleging your father plotted with assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
“Forgive me, Sen. McCain, for calling you a loser for being a prisoner of war.
“Forgive me, Megyn Kelly, for using your gender to attack you for a tough question.
“Forgive me, Judge Curiel, for assuming your Latino heritage justified recusal.
“Forgive me, small-business colleagues, for cheating you out of money I owed you.
“Forgive me, Trump University graduates, for selling you a worthless degree.
“Forgive me, female reporters, for saying it doesn’t matter what you write as long as you’ve ‘got a young and beautiful piece of a–.’
“Forgive me, female soldiers, for saying sexual assaults were an expected result of letting women in the military.
“Forgive me, New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, for mocking your disability.
“Forgive me, women of American and Eastern Europe, for treating you like property.
“Forgive me, President Obama, for lying about where you were born and suggesting you like it when terrorists attack us.
“Forgive me, African-Americans and Jews, for saying I didn’t want ‘black guys counting my money,’ instead only ‘little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.’
“Forgive me, women of childbirth age, for saying that if you get an abortion, ‘There has to be some form of punishment.’
“Forgive me, Hillary Clinton, for claiming that you made a deal with the devil and are the devil.
“Forgive me, Ivanka, for describing you by saying, ‘What a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …’ and saying that if you weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating you.
“Forgive me, Mexican immigrants, for suggesting you are nearly all rapists and other kinds of criminals.
“Forgive me, Muslims in New Jersey, for suggesting you cheered the 9/11 attacks.
“Forgive me, Rosie O’Donnell, for saying you were a fat pig and disgusting animal.
“Forgive me, citizens of Ukraine, for falsely claiming Putin did not invade you.
“Forgive me, Republican primary colleagues, for calling you low-energy, ugly to look at, little, fat, big-eared, embarrassing and disgusting.
“Forgive me, Univision, Washington Post and Huffington Post, for revoking your press access simply because I could not take criticism.
“Finally, forgive me, God and good citizens, for never having ever asked for forgiveness before in my life.”
The apologies caused an immediate spike in the polls, with Trump taking a 15-point lead. In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan declared: “This, this is the Donald Trump we have all waited for, that we knew was in there, waiting to come out. God bless America, and God bless Donald Trump.”
Within minutes of Trump’s pronouncement, Hillary Clinton tweeted: “It’s satire. #duh.”
This column originally appeared in the August 4, 2016 Waco-Tribune Herald, where David is a member of the Board of Contributors.