06/07/2010 10:34 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Lame Apologies

So now it's Helen Thomas' turn. You'd like to give the ol' gal a break and blame it on the fact that she's 89. But as my wife keeps telling her fabulously youthful and razor-sharp mother, "90 is the new 70." So much for the senility defense. Thomas' remarks about sending Jews back to Poland and Germany are so repugnant that they shouldn't even be offered by somebody who's not of sound mind.

But the toothpaste is out of the tube now. What she has to focus on is her apology, and like most people caught in a mess, she's opted for the cowardly way out: apologizing on her website. If she wants to know how effective that approach is, I can give her Tiger Woods' phone number.

Apologies don't work in print. To the reader who's looking for genuine contrition, they feel scripted and insincere. Don't make me think you sat down with a team of PR people and handlers and hammered this thing out by committee - that makes me only more incensed. No, an apology needs to happen the way our parents taught us to do it - go up to the person, look them in the eye and say I was wrong, I'm sorry. In Thomas' case, she needs to look some interviewer in the eye and say that.

Thomas is just the latest in a string of notables who all too slowly inch their way to doing the right thing. Hiding behind your website and issuing a well-crafted semi-apology is not going to get it done.