Sam Boyd

Sam Boyd is a former assistant web editor at the Prospect

Recent Articles

Crafting a Better Political Apology

Why politicians apologize badly, and how they could improve. (Are you paying attention, David Vitter?)

Emerging from a week of seclusion and scandal linking him to a Washington escort service, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., returns to his duties on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Politicians do bad things, they get caught, and they apologize. Usually, these apologies fail to satisfy anyone because, as a rule, politicians apologize very badly. Most recently, after admitting to frequenting prostitutes, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) offered his "deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way." The apology was tepid, unconvincing, and rightly derided. Vitter could have done better if he had listened to a group of linguists, psychologists, and anthropologists who have begun, over the last several decades, to understand why we say "I'm sorry" and what a successful apology looks and sounds like. According to anthropologist Joan Silk of UCLA, an apology is a way of returning a relationship to where it was before it was damaged. Good apologies reduce the desire for retribution, make the victim more likely to act positively towards the offender, and increase the victim's willingness to forgive. A successful political apology minimizes the...

THEY'VE GOT TO...

THEY'VE GOT TO BE PROTECTED, ALL THEIR RIGHTS RESPECTED, 'TILL SOMEONE WE LIKE CAN BE ELECTED. Over at the Atlantic, Ross Douthat responds to Robert Kagan , who seeks to put the Bush administration in historical context. Kagan writes : Since 1945 Americans have insisted on acquiring and maintaining military supremacy, a "preponderance of power" in the world rather than a balance of power with other nations. They have operated on the ideological conviction that liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government and that other forms of government are not only illegitimate but transitory. They have declared their readiness to "support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation" by forces of oppression, to "pay any price, bear any burden" to defend freedom, to seek "democratic enlargement"in the world, and to work for the "end of tyranny." They have been impatient with the status quo. They have seen America as a catalyst for change in human affairs, and they have...

SUBSCRIPTIONS.

SUBSCRIPTIONS. TPM Election Central has gone through each campaign's filings to determine which publications they subscribed to in the last Month. As it turns out, Barack Obama is the only candidate to subscribe to the Nevada papers, Rudy Guliani subscribes to "A&E television networks" and everyone blew a heck of a lot of money on LexisNexis. Oh and Obama subscribes to... The American Prospect . --Sam Boyd

GENDER: A GOOD REASON TO VOTE FOR HILLARY BUT NOT THE ONLY REASON.

GENDER: A GOOD REASON TO VOTE FOR HILLARY BUT NOT THE ONLY REASON. Ezra criticizes my earlier post , saying that "insofar as it assumes that gender would be an insufficient reason to support Hillary Clinton ." Insofar as Ezra is saying we should never vote for white men, I disagree with him too -- he just isn't saying that, just like I wasn't saying that we shouldn't take candidates' gender or race into account in our voting. What I do still think is insulting to Clinton is the suggestion that the only reason she has been successful is her gender. Has it helped her? Of course and rightly so. Do I think that she would still be a viable candidate if she wasn't a woman? Yes. She has unique experience in how an executive branch is run, she has been a great success as a senator, and she has a reputation for competence that attracts many people. Suggesting that one reason people support her is gender is obviously true and, as Ezra so carefully and correctly explained, not a problem. What...

JOHN EDWARDS ECHOES HIS WIFE.

JOHN EDWARDS ECHOES HIS WIFE. On Hardball last night John Edwards defended his wife's criticisms of Hillary Clinton : On Elizabeth saying he is a better advocate for women than HRC: "It is not shocking that my wife is for me. I am proud to have her support. I hope I get her vote too. ... I actually talked to Elizabeth this afternoon about this. I think the point she was making is that if you look at things like poverty, there are more women in poverty than there are men. ... And in these kinds of substantive areas that have a direct impact on the lives of women, I have been very aggressive. I have been out front and lead a on those issues" (MSNBC, 7/17). I can only imagine that Barack Obama must be sitting in a high-backed armchair next to a fire while stroking a kitten and gently murmuring "good... good." An attack by Edwards on Clinton hurts both of them and thereby strengthens Obama. It's also not a terrible idea for Edwards since he's got to do something to revitalize his campaign...

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