There were many liberals on social media who expressed the opinion that Harris-Perry shouldn’t have apologized, mainly because it would only deliver succor to the enemies of liberalism, who are a dastardly bunch. But Harris-Perry’s words and evident sincerity made it clear that the apology wasn’t about conservatives, it was about her. She chose to do the right thing, to commit a morally righteous act even if people she doesn’t like would enjoy it.
In other words, she removed herself from the political calculation that asks of everything, “Which side is this good for?” That isn’t easy for someone involved in politics to do, because so many forces push you to see every controversy primarily from that perspective. Had Harris-Perry been focused on not giving her critics any satisfaction, or simply keeping up the fight, she might have given one of those familiar non-apology apologies. She might have said: Listen, imagining Mitt and Kanye at Thanksgiving together isn’t exactly like, say, that time during the Clinton presidency when John McCain asked the crowd at a Republican fundraiser, “Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father.” That was truly despicable; what I did was a misdemeanor at best.
But she didn’t say those things; instead, she acted the way a good person would, the way most of us hope we’d act in an analogous situation in our own lives. She overcame the natural instinct to be defensive that we all share and to say that our good intentions should absolve us of blame.”