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The New Rule of Politics Is Never Saying You’re Sorry

As Cuomo and Trump show, the ritual of the tearful public apology is disappearing.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at a church in Harlem on March 17.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before receiving a Covid-19 vaccine at a church in Harlem on March 17.

Photographer: Seth Wenig/Getty Images

Susan Wise Bauer’s editor reached out to her last year about updating her 2008 book The Art of the Public Grovel, about how politicians apologize when accused of sexual misdeeds. Given the #MeToo movement and claims against Donald Trump, her editor said, a new edition might sell well.

This time, it was Bauer’s turn to say sorry. “I just don’t know what I would write,” Bauer, a historian, recalls saying. “No one really apologizes anymore.”