APOLOGIES AND ARROGANCE…. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke with Fareed Zakaria over the weekend on CNN, and the Newsweek editor asked Gates to respond to one of the right’s favorite talking points: “President Obama — you’ve heard a lot of Republican criticism that he’s going around the world apologizing about America. Do you accept that?”

I found Gates’ response pretty compelling.

“Well, I like to remind people that, when President George W. Bush came into office, he talked about a more humble America. And, you know, you go back to Theodore Roosevelt and his line about speaking softly, but carrying a big stick.

“I think that acknowledging that we have made mistakes is not only factually accurate, I think that it is unusual, because so few other governments in the world are willing to admit that, although they make them all the time. And some of them make catastrophic mistakes.

“And in speeches myself, I have said that at times we have acted too arrogantly. And I didn’t feel that I was being apologetic for America, I just was saying, because the next — I was just saying that that’s the way we are in terms of being willing to recognize our own limitations, and when we make a mistake to correct it.

“Because I think the next line that I always use is, no other country in the world is so self-critical, and is so willing to change course when we feel that we’ve strayed from our values, or when we feel like we’ve been too arrogant.

“So, I think — I have not seen it as an apology tour at all, but rather a change of tone, a more humble America. But everybody knows we still have the big stick.”

Well said.

I can only assume Republicans will now feel compelled to call for Gates’ resignation, and Sean Hannity will spend the next several months mocking the Republican Pentagon chief for secretly hating America.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.