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A Political Sidestep: 'Mistakes Were Made'

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A Political Sidestep: 'Mistakes Were Made'

U.S.

A Political Sidestep: 'Mistakes Were Made'

A Political Sidestep: 'Mistakes Were Made'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/8972606/8972607" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

"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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