Jeb Bush Joins A Cast of Cowardly Politicians to Use "Mistakes Were Made" - A Best Hits List
In his foreign policy coming out speech, former Florida governor and possible 2016 contender Jeb Bush intoned that “there were mistakes made” as a part of his brother's war in Iraq.
It's a curious way of trivializing starting an unnecessary conflict that wasted trillions of dollars and took hundreds of thousands of lives in a war that still rages on today, but sadly it is not unique. As The Atlantic's Jim Fallows points out, this is a phrase that has a storied history. Here are a few other examples of high-profile mistakes that were made:
“It is quite possible that mistakes were made,” Henry Kissinger explaining U.S. support for Latin American dictatorships, 2002
“We did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so,” President Reagan explaining the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987
“So, if there was a mistake made, in trying to move them along a more civilized path by having contacts as we did, fine,” - President George H.W. Bush explaining his support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, 1990
“[She] had said only that if mistakes were made, they would be corrected,” aides to Condoleeza Rice explaining away her apparently telling German leader Angele Merkel that the U.S. had kidnapped a German citizen on accident, 2005
“The biggest mistake that's happened so far,” George W. Bush on the Abu Ghraib scandal, 2006
“Mistakes were made,” Alberto Gonzalez explaining the politicized firing of U.S. attorneys, 2007
It appears there's no act too big, no crime too wrong to explain away as a simple (past-tense) mistake.