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Why don't more politicians apologize?

October 30, 2013, at 10:21 AM

After weeks of dealing with the bungled rollout of the ObamaCare website, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for the first time apologized as she testified before Congress today.

She told lawmakers the HealthCare.gov experience was "miserably frustrating," and said she was sorry: "You deserve better. I apologize."

The apology was disarming in its sincerity. But it was also striking because so few politicians ever apologize for their mistakes in office.

It’s odd because apologies can be very effective.

As the American Prospect notes, people "are very reluctant to reject apologies, and people who do reject one are viewed negatively by others. This creates social pressure to accept an apology even if it is not entirely satisfying."

In this case, Americans may be even more accepting of Sebellius' apology because Republicans have made it a four-year crusade to do anything they can in an attempt to derail ObamaCare. Working while under such fierce political opposition makes any job harder. Most Americans understand that.

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