A Political Sidestep: 'Mistakes Were Made'

"Mistakes were made." The phrase is a political construction that the analyst William Schneider says should be called the "past exonerative" tense.

Its origin as a political mea culpa — or non-mea culpa — goes at least as far back as President Ronald Reagan's 1987 State of the Union address, in the midst of the Iran-Contra scandal.

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