Howard Kurtz surveys the coverage and commentary following Trent Lott’s apology for his comments at Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party. It seems many pundits on the right and left are not buying it. Apology is one of the most interesting genres of political speech. For a look at what it takes to deliver a good one, check out my essay on Bill Clinton’s apology delivered at the White House prayer breakfast in 1998. [.pdf file]
UPDATE (10:35 a.m.): The Hill surveys the political reaction.
UPDATE (10:45 a.m.): The problem of intentionality vexes the study of linguistics, i.e. how do we know what message someone intended to convey (illocutionary act) and what reactions they intended for their auditor (perlocutionary act)? The theoretical foundation of my dissertation involves my demonstrating how we may arrive at an understanding of intentionality by accounting for the role of rhetoric in the illocutionary act. In Lott’s case, I don’t have to go through a long-winded, arcane analysis to prove he intended to praise the 1948 segregationist agenda of Strom Thurmond–but I could. Instead, we can simply look to the historic record and see that he said it before in nearly the same words.