The problem is that in American public life a person must never admit
he’s lied. Our leaders will leap through incredible rhetorical hoops to
avoid it: We will be “mistaken,” “misled,” “misrepresented,”
“unaccountably in error”—anything to avoid saying that word. It’s
American cognitive dissonance at work, because we all know that in the
real world people lie all the time. No one tells the unvarnished truth
unless he wants to have a very short career—our culture teaches us that
it would be far better to be mentally deficient and incompetent than to
admit we lied.
Right now we are asked to believe Williams is unaccountably dim and
prone to fantastical visions, and that’s why his is no apology at
all—because it doesn’t respect the listener.