It has become standard practice for politicians, when caught in some inescapable bind, to "apologise unreservedly". So well-set is this repertoire, were a politician to say nothing more than, "I apologise", without the accompanying adverb, it is likely that it would be met by condemnation, not acceptance. The unqualified apology has come to feel unsatisfactory, almost ambiguous in its simplicity and therefore incomplete. To be real, it must be profound, and "unreservedly" helps provide the necessary gravitas ("I apologise unreservedly for the pain and anger that my remarks may have caused" [1]). The reasons for this are complex. Among them is the fact that political acts of contrition have become a kind of theatre. And when the audience looks for regret, it wishes to see it manifest in practice, demonstrable not abstracted. It is a curious state of affairs, this kind of exaggeration, because remorse is essentially a private business. To accept an apology is to take a leap of faith, ...

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