Politicians, Narcissists, and Apologies

It’s Narcissist Friday!     


Remember the little Sesame Street song that said “One of these things is not like the others”? We can see the connection between politicians and narcissists, but apologies seem to be something out of sync with the others.

You would be hard-pressed to find a single vocation more suited to narcissists and narcissistic behavior than politics. I know that some people think Hollywood is filled with narcissists, and I suppose that could be, but the actors and actresses we scoff at do work for our approval. They may feel entitled when they are successful, but some of these politicians seem to feel entitled all the time. Failure, laziness, compromise—none of these things reduce their self-indulgences.

I have written on narcissistic apologies before, but I was just prompted to think about them again as I read this in the news:

“I apologize to those who may have been offended by my remark.”


A classic! Let me break that down a little.  Here’s the thinking behind that kind of apology:


  1.  Not everyone was offended by my remark. Some thought it was funny. Some had the good sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Some are always against me, no matter what I say.
  2. Some may have been offended. I don’t really know anyone who actually was offended. My people say that I have to issue this apology because some people might have been offended.
  3.   It was just a remark. It wasn’t a bad word. I didn’t call anyone a name or accuse that person of something. I didn’t lie or speak evil of someone’s mother. I just made a little comment, that’s all.
  4. What about everybody else’s remarks? Why pick on mine? Why not pick on the really nasty people, like those who call me names and disagree with me?
  5.   I am not admitting that I did anything wrong because it wasn’t wrong. I have to say something to get people off my back—and I am sincere in my apology—but I didn’t do anything wrong.
  6.   You people make me sick. Always twisting my words and accusing me. Don’t you realize who I am? I can’t afford the time to deal with this nonsense.
  7.   Now I never want to hear about this again. I gave my apology. What more do people want? Let’s move on to something real and important.

So the politician/narcissist turns away from the microphone ready to attack anyone who brings up the remark in the future, but he winks at a friend as he walks away.


No, this isn’t an apology. Nor is it satisfying. I know that politicians play a little game where they each try to catch the other in some offensive words or actions. I know that the accusations are often as petty as the apologies. But the point here is that the narcissistic apology thrives in politics.

Sadly, you can find the narcissistic apology in so many places: the home, the church, the organization, any place you could find a narcissist. You might even find yourself using the narcissistic apology because that’s what you have been taught. Instead of dealing with the pain of those we hurt, or the offense we have committed, we use this apology to get out of the situation. It has become the apology of our culture.

We can do better. The narcissist may have more difficulty.

Because the narcissist really cannot sense the pain of others and only thinks of others when he/she has use for them, the narcissistic apology will always be lacking honesty and comfort. In other words, you will walk away unconvinced and untouched.


Filed under Narcissism

20 responses to “Politicians, Narcissists, and Apologies

  1. Jodianne

    Yes. An apology from a narcissist is more an accusation that we who are offended or hurt lack strength and the wisdom to understand and endure reality. I believe it is transference of blame and responsibility, leaving any sense of shame with the offended. Perhaps it is gaslighting.

  2. How about this one…. I’m so sorry that I hit you but if you hadn’t………..

    • merieleslie

      I was told once after getting a black eye and bloody nose “I didn’t hit you that hard. You just bleed too easy”– is that sick or what!!??? What’s sick is that I stayed working supporting him for another 6 years!

  3. Anne

    Throughout my long marriage my ex would act offended when I brought up something that he did that upset me. He claimed he never meant to hurt me so why would I call him out on anything? Then he would give me the silent treatment for so long that I eventually begged for HIS forgiveness.
    None of the issues were petty. When I filed for divorce his only apology was that he was sorry if I thought he had ever wanted to hurt me. Really? All those years of lying, cheating, gaslighting weren’t meant to hurt me? When I asked him if he was trying to PUNISH me he paused then denied it.

    He will never change. Two years ago I watched as he gaslighted/punished our 4-yr-old granddaughter for acting jealous around her new baby cousin. She was glaring at him and I guess he felt under attack. This was a girl who adored him, was the first grandchild, and his ego couldn’t take it. I pray that he doesn’t screw her up for life.

    • Jodianne

      My ex denied anything happened even moments after! He was like a split personality. Or he thought if he denied it, it didn’t happen. Gaslighting? I questioned my sanity often.

      • Jodianne

        I never got anything that even resembled apology. He never admitted anything.

      • Cecilia K

        Jodianne, Similarly, after our fights when my (now ex-) BF had been nasty to me, the next time we would see each other, he would just act like nothing had happened, not even acknowledging his cruelty. It wasn’t an outright denial, but rather a more subtle one, and it would make me question myself, too, like maybe I was overreacting, or maybe I misunderstood him or was remembering everything wrong, and so I would lose my nerve to speak up about it. Of course, my fear of his response if I Did speak up probably also contributed to me not saying anything. So I applaud you for confronting him about it (it sounds like you did, if he denied the allegations). Hugs to you!

  4. Jodianne

    Not long ago I heard individuals say never apologize because it is a sign of weakness. What a sad commentary on today’s society.

  5. Great post, Pastor Dave; no one writes on narcissism better than you do. I’m a technical and professional writer, and I teach professional writers how to use plain language in their work. One of the skills I teach is how to say exactly what you mean, instead of sidestepping an issue. I use an example that dovetails with your post–that of the “sidestep apology.” For example, if someone says, “I owe you an apology,” that’s not the same thing as saying, “I’m sorry.” Narcissists, of course, are masterful at the sidestep apology, as your post eloquently explains.

  6. Cat

    I knew I had heard this kind of apology on the news yesterday and this is where it came from – the story of a Canadian judge who had asked a rape victim why she didn’t keep her legs together and who FINALLY resigned after a panel of investigation called for his removal. This was his apology:

    “Within hours, Camp, 64, said he would step down. He apologized in a statement to “everyone who was hurt” by his comments. Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould accepted his resignation, saying she was confident he had received due process…”


    • Sadly, that’s not where I heard it the other day. A different situation and politician. This is epidemic among public folks. I suppose we can take something positive from the fact that this judge stepped down, but I wonder how much pressure it took.

      • Cat

        It must have taken a lot of pressure. The scandal has been going on for a while and I know he did some kind of training after this came out and this was followed by the investigation of the judicial board whose decision was revealed yesterday. You can be sure he’s not resigning because HE feels he did anything wrong, but only when the Canadian Minister of Justice declared after the board’s decision that she was going to remove him.

  7. contendingearnestly

    Ugh, I have apologized and asked forgiveness so many times for being hurt or offended by something my husband said or did, and then end up feeling, once again, like the problem was really mine, that there was some spiritual or emotional weakness or immaturity in me that caused me to be hurt… just part of the vicious cycle.

  8. Penny

    “It was a joke”
    “I was only kidding”
    “where’s your sense of humor?”

    It’s not funny when you’re the target, and they deny when they hit it.

  9. Diane

    Narcissism disorder is very serious. You need to close the door in these creatures. They are a bottomless pit of evil. And they like it. They are sadists. I’m sorry if they are so wounded from pass traumas but who isn’t wounded? They are choosing to be evil when god gave them the ability to also choose good. They are condemned to be satans minions and remain in their dark world. Don’t feed them. Let them starve. When they are starved of supply they crumble and die. Just rewards for the life they have chosen.

  10. A Narcissist’s friends will also give a non-apology for supporting their abusive friend. I recently received a Linked In request from a friend of my abusive ex-husband, who I had not spoken to for over 25 years. During my divorce from my first abusive husband (a college boyfriend) in 1992, I had reached out to this friend and asked him to lunch to let him know that even if his buddy and I were getting a divorce, I still valued our friendship, especially since he and his wife were godparents of my son. He responded that they had “prayed about it” and decided they would not have any relationship with me. It was a painful but important lesson of how “Christian” friends of abusers react when a woman finally leaves her abusive husband – they always side with the abuser, regardless of how horrible the abuse. I reminded this person of his friend’s abuse that led to the divorce (verbal, physical, and his demands for an abortion) and his prior decision terminating our relationship, informed that his friend had virtually no involvement in his son’s life for the past 30 years as he climbed the corporate ladder and made his millions, and said that I was sure he would understand if I declined his LinkedIn invitation. I also told him about my current involvement in helping victims of domestic abuse and how his reaction was typical of so-called “Christian” friends of abusers.
    I received this non-apology:
    “Yes, your position is very clear and I understand. I am sincerely sorry that my invitation triggered these sorrowful emotions. Please accept my apology for reaching out, I will not repeat this mistake. I hope and pray that your ongoing service to the abused will have a very positive and healing impact. Take care and best wishes.”

    So typical! Just get these Narcissists and their horrible friends out of your life and don’t look back!!

    • contendingearnestly

      Charlene, I have also lost long time friends, as well as family (including those who would consider themselves Christians), that sided with my narc husband of 41 yrs. It was so puzzling and hurtful at first, but I have accepted it and am moving on. I am now labeled ‘crazy’ because I had the audacity to finally become bold enough to prove my husband’s ongoing, repeated infidelity and choose not to be abused and controlled by him any longer. I have to admit, though, unfortunately, I am guilty of giving many non-apologies over the years in the process of excusing my husband’s bad behavior and abuse toward myself and others. Good counseling has been beneficial in helping me unravel the many lies I have conditioned to believe about myself, my husband, my marriage, relationships, and life in general etc., etc.. In this process I find that I am beginning to recognize other unhealthy relationships in my life also. I am figuring out how to set boundaries, and, am finally beginning to look forward to a future of healthier relationships. I don’t have it all figured out yet for sure, but, with God’s help and abundant grace and mercy, I am healing and finding much freedom and hope.

      • Contendingearnestly, It sounds like you are well on your way to healing completely and living in truth! Congratulations! Soaking in God’s word every day, being surrounded by good and kind people filled with the Spirit, a good counselor, and putting healing as a top priority will all help you rediscover you and your purpose. God is with you and for you!

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