May 10, 2013

"I kid you not: The IRS just released a statement on its improper harassment of conservative groups in the run-up to the 2012 election including the words: 'mistakes were made.'"

Says Instapundit, under the heading "It just gets worse."

I see that "Mistakes were made" has its own Wikipedia page:
The New York Times has called the phrase a "classic Washington linguistic construct." Political consultant William Schneider suggested that this usage be referred to as the "past exonerative" tense, and commentator William Safire has defined the phrase as "[a] passive-evasive way of acknowledging error while distancing the speaker from responsibility for it." While perhaps most famous in politics, the phrase has also been used in business, sports, and entertainment.
The phrase is most associated with Richard Nixon and his press secretary Ron Ziegler:

U.S. President Richard Nixon used the phrase several times in reference to wrongdoings by his own electoral organization and presidential administration.

On May 1, 1973, White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler stated "I would apologize to the Post, and I would apologize to Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein" (referring to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post). He continued, "We would all have to say that mistakes were made in terms of comments. I was overenthusiastic in my comments about the Post, particularly if you look at them in the context of developments that have taken place." The previous day, White House counsel John Dean and Nixon aides John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman had resigned, as the Watergate scandal progressed.
But it's not as though the association with Nixon has worked over the years to warn off other politicians. As you can see at the Wikipedia page, President Reagan used it in 1987 (about Iran-Contra, President Clinton used it in 1997 (about Democratic Party fundraising scandals. Senator McCain used it in 2005 (about the Iraq war). There are more items on the list, including — I love Wikipedia —today's statement by the IRS.

Under the "see also" heading:
List of political catch phrases
Non-apology apology
Non-denial denial
Spin (public relations)
IN THE COMMENTS: Erich said: "Calls to mind the classic Matt Groening cartoon."

41 comments:

edutcher said...

It got more use in the 90s, if memory serves.

Especially from a future Senator and Secretary.

bpm4532 said...

That's how democrats see it, but to the rest of the rational world, crimes were committed.

Powerline is recalling Austin Goolsbee's rant about Koch and his view that S-Corps, LLCs, and other pass-thru entities (where taxes are paid by individual owners) is somehow a loophole that needs to be fixed. It's clear that Democrats don't see their mission to produce useful results other than to figure out the ways to maximize taxes extracted from the American people.

St. George said...

What did the President not know and when did he stop knowing it?

Time for Bob Woodward to move the potted plant on his terrace.

Erich said...

Calls to mind the classic Matt Groening cartoon.

Marshal said...

It's actually Kevin Williamson from NRO.

Alex said...

Nothing to see here, move along. Mitch McConnell is fat!

/garage

Matt said...

I think you are being unfair. Clearly, someone mistakenly typed "tea party" and "patriot" into the database search box. Then they accidentally flagged the results for audits and general harassment. Totally accidental. A simple mistake. So stop the witch hunt!

Oh, and when these type of issues keep coming up like the IRS audits and the Benghazi talking points being changed or "oopsies" on the front page of papers that are later corrected in a small sidebar deep inside, it is just a total coincidence that the mistakes happen to favor Obama and Democrats. Totally accidental and just innocent mistakes. Really. Honestly.

pm317 said...

So this distraction will protect Obama from Benghazi? Yay!

SteveR said...

Obama makes the "Teflon President" moniker absurdly inapt.

JAL said...

In Hindi there is an expression ... upne apse ("up'nay aap'say") which is basically used to say something happened all by itself with no human assitance implied or inferred.

Guess that's what happened. The letters just wrote and sent themselves.

pm317 said...

Wind up the Republicans on tax..

Matt said...

So, if liberals believe it is fair to tie Sarah Palin's map to Jared Loughner, would they agree that Obama's joking about using the IRS against his political appointments inspired the IRS maleficence? Will they, the consistent paragons and defenders of truth and justice, criticize Obama for his joke as they attacked Palin for the map? I would think so, if they are indeed as righteous and fair minded as they claim. So let's here it liberal commenters! Lambast Obama as you did to Palin!

garage mahal said...

BENGHAZIRS

jd said...

god forbid law professors ann althouse and glenn reynolds actually confer with a tax professor about the actual mutherfucking law on this issue. i bet they could have walked down the hall today to speak with one (if they even went to work).

god, the laziness and pure sloth of this amazon affiliate racket is just so ridiculous. your schools should be (and likely are) embarrassed.

what's the LAW here, althouse? Since you are so adamant that this is a legal blog and not a political one.

Matthew Sablan said...

JD: The laws? Per the IRS: These groups were improperly flagged, apologies have been made, and the IRS has said they made a mistake. Literally, the experts in the field have told you what the law is.

Matthew Sablan said...

This is why I can't take some liberal comments seriously. "WHAT DID THE LAW SAY?!? THIS IS SMALL POTATOES!" and other such drivel.

It is not small potatoes; a basic passing familiarity with the facts would tell you that wrong-doing has been admitted.

Take the lumps: The IRS under a D-president screwed up majorly. Trying to fight the issue makes it stay around longer.

SteveR said...

jd You really don't get it do you?How long have you been around?

furious_a said...

Mistakes were made

The passive voice, lacking an active subject, is the perfect verbal construction for one to state a legalistic truth while at the same time avoiding both the assignment and acceptance of responsibility and accountability.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nonapod said...

So some of these "conspiracy theries" about the IRS are actually true. Maybe they need to make an We're Sorry video. That'll fix it.

edutcher said...

jd said...

god forbid law professors ann althouse and glenn reynolds actually confer with a tax professor about the actual mutherfucking law on this issue. i bet they could have walked down the hall today to speak with one (if they even went to work).

God forbid JD use caps like an adult.

Or realize what was done was illegal and that lawprofs may know more than just another Lefty troll.

As I said earlier, the one IRS Commissioner I ever met was the one who lost her job because of this sort of nonsense.

And the no caps thing really is that lame.

furious_a said...

Seriously, try it at home.

Our anniversary was forgotten.

The dinner reservations weren't made.

The babysitter wasn't called.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Once I thought about starting a nonprofit group called "Patriots for the Tea Party." Mind you I never did anything to actually form the group.

So now where do I go to get me some of that sweet Pigford style money?

Michael K said...

I spent the last couple of days with my daughter who is 32 and a leftie. I asked her a few questions about issues. It turns out that her opinions are not that different from mine, which are sort if Instapundit libertarian. When I mentioned the "Tea Party", she had a sort of visceral reaction. It is a bad word.

Goebbels had nothing on Obama and the OFA.

Ann Althouse said...

"It turns out that her opinions are not that different from mine, which are sort if Instapundit libertarian. When I mentioned the "Tea Party", she had a sort of visceral reaction. It is a bad word."

I remember in the early days of tea parties, Instapundit was a big booster. I myself thought it was corny and embarrassing. It surprised me when it became a big thing.

I think the "Tea Party" is just old-fashioned Americans who have a lot of feeling about what America means -- and I say that mostly based on the feeling I got attending 3 different Tea Party events. I attended to observe (and blog).

Palladian said...

God forbid JD use caps like an adult.

I hope jd doesn't stand for juris doctor...

edutcher said...

More like just dippy.

LilyBart said...

I think the "Tea Party" is just old-fashioned Americans who have a lot of feeling about what America means -- and I say that mostly based on the feeling I got attending 3 different Tea Party events. I attended to observe (and blog).

I 'attended' a few tea parties in my town. (They held them a lunch, just two blocks from my office! Very convenient.) They struck me as average, decent people. I was appalled at how they were demonized by the media and the press. The newspaper printed that the group said things that weren't actually said (I was there - I knew it wasn't true)

I think they are demonized because the left doesn't want to have the debate at all. They want people who disagree with them to shut up.

Lem said...

If you recall the so called Clinton Playbook...

From my recollection...

When something goes wrong get it out yourself... that way you get the first word in as to how it should be played out.

It worked for them.

Lem said...

This kind of stuff would have been pieced together by people who make it their purpose in life to rummage trough the mountains of information our government generates.

So rather than do that... wait for somebody to discover it... and risk a negative review of the law breaking or near law breaking or whatever... see the Clinton time tested, mother approved, rules to govern with.

Lem said...

One thing, thought, I cant quite put my finger on...

Why make such an obvious attempt at distracting from Benghazi?

Unless... this has no real connections to anybody in the White House... and its just the conscience of a single individual trying to do the right thing?

A whistle blower blowing the whistle on herself?

I'm skeptical.

Lem said...

Have we ever heard of any government head of any anything ever coming forward and saying "oops".

I don't remember any.

cubanbob said...

The 'oops' would mean something if all those involved were fired.

Carnifex said...

JD should change their initials to JA(JackAss).

Here's a few questions our great press corpse won't be askin' of the Mighty Kenyan...

1) Were the taxes generated large enough to pay for one of your many vacations?

2) If only low level people were involved why didn't the higher ups step in and stop the abuse?

3) Was anyone punished?(punishment is not being sent home for 2 weeks with pay)

4) What rules and oversites have you placed on the IRS to prevent this from happening again?

5) Aren't you all, every last stinking Democrat, just lying through your teeth because we let you get away with it?

6) Who gave the order to change the bullet point on Benghazi 12 times?(I'm just throwing spitballs with this one)

7) Why shouldn't this entire administration be tried for violating their Oaths of Office?

8) Are you gonna' make sure those nasty Koch brothers don't buy the LATimes? Maybe you can have the IRS look into them?

Prof. You're missing the point of the Tea Party. We don't miss America...we miss the great leaders we used to have that cared for her.

Now all we got is Rinos and Demoncrats.

Jake Diamond said...

Glenn Reynolds is a nitwit.

AprilApple said...

Can we throw the entire corrupt democrat apparatus in jail?

Joe Schmoe said...

Demos, you may have wailed and gnashed your teeth under the Bush admin, but Bush has got nothing on this admin, whose main goal in office is to exterminate the opposition party.

To say the Dems were drunk with power starting in 2008 is an understatement. And despite all of their self-proclaimed good intentions they have proven to be worse than the most corrupt administrations that this country has seen.

Joe Schmoe said...

Remember all the mea culpas from the lefty media about how they bought all the talking points from Bush and his team about the Iraq war? And after the fact they were all ashamed of how they covered the story, and wish they had done a better job?

Do you think we'll hear any of that in 2017 after Barry is booted? I'd like to think so, but I'm not holding my breath.

Rusty said...

AprilApple said...
Can we throw the entire corrupt democrat apparatus in jail?


And miss out on all the entertainment like the post above?
Not hardly!

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Awww, Jakey Zirconia gets upset when Reynolds keeps landing blows against little black jesus and his minions.

Rage on little Jakey, rage on.

TMink said...

Mistakes happen, but they do not have a vector or pattern to them. There is a random quality to mistakes. "Errors" that only occur with one group or in one direction are called something else entirely: bias.

Trey