No Cheney Apology Due: Whittington Already Did It


David Arquette: "I am sorry and humbled" for "sharing too much" with radio host Howard Stern about the lack of sex with his wife of 11 years, Courteney Cox, and having sex with actress Jasmine Waltz.

JetBlue: "But most of all, we are deeply sorry...(for) the worst operational week in JetBlue's seven year history," said a statement from the airline after flight attendant Steven Slater grabbed a beer and slid down the slide to quit.

Tiger Woods: "I know I have bitterly disappointed all of you," he said after dozens of women confessed they had bedded the golf champion.

Pope Benedict XVI: "Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated," he said to Irish victims of sexual abuse.

David Letterman: "Inadvertently, I just wasn't thinking ahead," he said, confessing to multiple affairs with femle staffers.

Don Imus: "Sometimes we go too far, and sometimes we go way too far," for making racially charged and derogatory comments about black players on the Rutgers women's basketball team.

Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia: "The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake," after declaring April Confederate History Month.

Apologies -- genuine or not -- "acknowledge our humanness," according to Thomas D. Gilovich, chairman of the psychology department at Cornell University, who served as advisor to Risen's study.

"People want to be heard and given voices to their concerns," he said. "Procedural justice, knowing that my interests have been taken into account and dealt with in some way, is as important as distributive justice."

"Someone who won't apologize is almost denying your very existence," said Gilovich. "It's the same as ostracism. Why is it so punishing when people don't pay attention to you? We come unglued."

Cheney, he half-joked, "has a lot of sins to atone for."

Should Dick Cheney Apologize to Harry Whittington?

"Even when people are completely coerced, it does a lot of good," said Gilovich. "Having said that we are all very interested and have a stake in believing it's sincere and sometime we are fooled."

The most egregious apology is the non-apology, he said. "If you deny, deny and deny, it becomes a death of a thousand cuts. It's better to get it out there all in the beginning."

If that's so, how should Cheney apologize to Whittington?

"There's not a lot of research on that," said Gilovich. "I suspect that face to face is the most effective, where you have intimate physical contact. Even if there is an attempt to resist, there is a social burden to act in a way that's accepting."

Although Cheney and Whittington haven't seen each other in two years, Whittington says he doesn't hold any grudges.

He still calls Cheney, "a very capable and honorable man" and adds, "He's said some very kind things to me."

Though the public might view a Cheney apology as "coerced," researcher Risen said it's never too late.

"Because of the public cry for an apology, for most people it wouldn't mean very much," she said. "But my guess is it actually would mean something to Harry Whittington."

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