There’s something about an apology

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT AN APOLOGY…. Josh Marshall notes today that as shocking as Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) apology was, yesterday’s statement from the House Republican Study Committee deserves attention, too. It’s a fair point.

What actually has me curious is when this gets back around to the House Republican Study Committee, which is essentially the right-wing or Movement conservative caucus within the House GOP, and a very big deal. Everybody’s reacting to Barton’s statement. But the HRS put out a pretty much identical statement yesterday about the Escrow account and President Obama yesterday. And more than a hundred members of the House Republican caucus belong to that group.

That makes it much more of a Republican position than what Barton said.

True. Barton and the RSC used nearly identical language — both characterized the relief fund for the Gulf as the result of a “shakedown” — but Barton said he was speaking for himself. The Republican Study Committee has 114 members, which is nearly two-thirds of the entire GOP caucus.

In other words, instead of praising the president for securing funding for victims of the BP disaster, a clear majority of the House Republican caucus endorsed a ridiculous statement that, in effect, sided with BP over the White House. That matters. A lot.

So why is Barton generating so much heat, while the Republican Study Committee’s nonsense has been largely overlooked? Because there’s just something about the apology.

Barton — the man positioned to lead the House Energy Committee if Republicans re-take the majority — issued a public apology (twice) to the chief executive of a foreign company, which is directly responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history. Why? Because Barton didn’t want President Obama to secure money for victims of the disaster. The RSC statement was genuinely ridiculous, but at least those 114 members didn’t apologize to BP.

As Greg Sargent put it, “Every now and then a gaffe comes along that really cuts through the noise and perfectly crystallizes the argument one side is trying to make, driving the debate with a whole new level of velocity and momentum. Barton’s apology, with its extraordinary public display of solicitousness and even pity towards the despised BP, even as the country is suffering wrenching losses from a major disaster of BP’s making, is one of those moments.”