There’s a scene in the 1965 movie “A Thousand Clowns,” in which actor Jason Robards, playing a character named Murray Burns, talks about standing on a Manhattan street corner, telling random strangers who walk by, “I’m sorry.”

Here’s a bit of that Murray dialog from the terrific playwright Herb Gardner: 

“I stayed right there on the corner of Fifty-first and Lex for a while, just saying “I’m sorry” to everybody that went by. “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir...” “I’m terribly sorry, madam...” “Say there, Miss, I’m sorry.”

“Of course, some people just gave me a funny look, but I swear, 75 percent of them forgave me! “Forget it, buddy.” “That’s O.K. really.” Two ladies forgave me in unison, one fellah forgave me from a passing car, and one guy forgave me for his dog. “Poofer forgives the nice man, don’t you, Poofer?”

“It was fabulous. I had tapped some vast reservoir. Something had happened to all of them for which they felt somebody should apologize. If you went up to people on the street and offered them money, they’d refuse it. But everybody accepts apology immediately.”

I feel like this scene should be required viewing for Democratic politicians these days.

It seems like on average of once or twice a week, somebody serving in office or running for one has to apologize for something. 

Most recently, freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, apologized “unequivocally” for anti-Semitic tweets — as she should have.

Apologizing became nearly a full-time job for Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam a couple of weeks ago, after the discovery and publication of the racist photo on his medical school yearbook page from 1984.

Soon thereafter, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said he, too, was sorry for attending a party in blackface as a student at the University of Virginia.

Apologies, heartfelt or politically expedient, have become as much a part of the news cycle as presidential tweets. Of late, all of them have come from Democrats. As a group, they seem more compelled to say I’m sorry than Republicans. 

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, one of a burgeoning number of Democratic presidential candidates, said she was sorry for identifying herself as a Native American for the umpteenth time last week.

The New York Times headlined an article on Feb 3: “2020 Democrats Agree: They’re Very, Very Sorry.” Its list included:

n Warren previously apologizing for her decision to take a DNA test to prove her claim of Native American ancestry.

n Former Vice President Joe Biden being sorry for  helping to write tough-on-crime drug legislation in the1980s and 1990s.

n Senator Kamala Harris, D- California, saying she “regretted” some of the positions her office took while she was a state prosecutor.

n Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, apologizing after reports of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in his 2016 presidential campaign.

Being a Democrat apparently means always having to say you’re sorry. 

My son Dan and I were discussing that last weekend. Dan said he thinks all this apologizing is going to hurt the Democrats in the 2020 election.

By apologizing over and over, he said, they come across as the politically correct group Republicans often portray them to be.

He may be right. 

What a sorry situation.

Email comments to dlyons@dailyitem.com.

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