Why is it public figures can never just say ‘I’m sorry for the inappropriate, offensive remark I made’ instead of parroting the slippery old standby ‘I’m sorry if anyone was offended by what I said?’

Mike Huckabee offered one of those apologetic non-apologies after what he apparently thought was a funny response to the sound of a collapsing chair as he spoke before an NRA audience. Quipping that the crash was Barack Obama diving to the floor to avoid being shot was an outrageous attempt at humor that was not only not funny but offensive and way over the line in terms of proper political and religious comportment.

Was it worth getting a few laughs from the friendly NRA crowd to make that crack about gunfire and Barack Obama? Is that what passes for humor among gun enthusiasts in the evangelical world? Does the enthusiasm of sportsmen who enjoy shooting things in the woods trump the feelings of those who must deal with gun violence on city streets and elsewhere? Addressing a happy throng of gun enthusiasts shouldn’t be a signal to make light of the serious issues and concerns of ordinary, unarmed Americans.

Is memory so short that the image of Bobby Kennedy gunned down in a hotel during his presidential campaign has dimmed to that of a non-event? Has Mr. Huckabee never noticed the nervous darting eyes of Secret Service agents when candidates wade into crowds shaking hands and chatting with supporters? Have recent shootings in schools and other public places been lost on the mental midgets of the cloth who enter the political world with such relish and so little to offer in terms of policy and moral relevance?

Reverend Hagee dragged himself up from the lower depths to profess a new understanding of his religious brethren and issue this version of an apology in which he expressed “…deep regret for any comments that Catholics found hurtful.” Safe to say having their church referred to as “the great whore” was somewhat hurtful to Catholics and distasteful in fact to people of all faiths and beliefs. The stuff about God punishing the people of New Orleans by sending Katrina into their midst right before a scheduled gay parade and other similar rants was left unaddressed by Hagee.

No doubt the McCain campaign encouraged Hagee to make his ‘apology’ so as to mitigate in some way the bad press it was getting for harboring such odd religious factotums as Hagee and Reverend Parsley. Parsley, it may be recalled, allows as how defeating Islam was a founding principle of our country. What strategies McCain’s people will employ to deal with this passing strange bed-fellow are probably still in the planning stages. After all what do you say about someone who says such nutty things? But perhaps this brand of nonsense plays well enough among the Republican base that strategists will just let it slither out in secret moments to please right-wing evangelicals.

The non-apology-apology avoids connecting errant speech with substance and mistakes others’ outrage for simple misunderstanding. The fact is that people aren’t really overly touchy. They get the malicious intent apologists refuse to acknowledge and for which almost no apology would in fact suffice. Pastors who speak in such disrespectful and hateful ways are a disgrace to their calling. Putting a “Reverend” in front of their names is a misnomer behind which they hide their disdain for those outside the charmed circle of their narrow belief systems.

I sincerely hope Mr. Huckabee and the Pastors Hagee and Parsley are offended by my remarks. I am not sorry if that turns out to be the case; no apologies will be issued.