Say what you want about Whelan’s behavior the last couple of days, this is an unqualified apology:
On reflection, I now realize that, completely apart from any debate over our respective rights and completely apart from our competing views on the merits of pseudonymous blogging, I have been uncharitable in my conduct towards the blogger who has used the pseudonym Publius. Earlier this evening, I sent him an e-mail setting forth my apology for my uncharitable conduct. As I stated in that e-mail, I realize that, unfortunately, it is impossible for me to undo my ill-considered disclosure of his identity. For that reason, I recognize that Publius may understandably regard my apology as inadequate.
Compared to the non-apology apologies we see all the time, that is a refreshing change.
*** Update ***
A lot of you in the comments are not accepting his apology. Some thoughts:
1.) It really isn’t up to you. It is up to Publius, and he has graciously accepted the apology and plans to move on. That should be the end of this.
2.) In an additional comment at ObWi, Whelan states the following:
A second stated concern is that my apology is insincere and coerced. On that score, I will simply say that no one at (or on behalf of) National Review or NRO (or in any other position of authority over me) ever raised with me a single concern about my posts or ever remotely suggested that I should make an apology. Further, as those who know me will readily attest, for better or worse my response to mob pressure is to entrench, not to cave.
I find this persuasive on two counts. First, the collective lot at NRO might between them be able to scrap together a moral compass, but sadly, it will permanently point to fail. Second, as a heater who often flys off the handle and makes intemperate remarks, I fully understand the instinct to dig in. However, he thought about it, and changed course. That is all you can ask for in a situation like this.
3.) Of course the apology can’t undo the damage done, but that is not the point of apologies. What is done can not be undone, but what an apology does do is change the course of the current debate. Whelan could have continued on, digging in, exposing more bloggers, continuing to insist he was right, continue to make farcical cases for why he was right, and so on. There were a wide range of behaviors and options he could have pursued, almost all of them wrong. He chose the only good course of action, which was to sack up, publicly apologize, and hope it was accepted.
I’m not sure what else he could do that I would consider appropriate in this case, and while I still think very little of his political positions or his opinions on both matters, I respect the fact that he made the right choice here. And not only that, he went against the grain at the NRO when he made his apology- they were defending him and covering his back, and on his own he chose to change course. That is to be commended.