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.

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