Among increasingly damning evidence that the government knew what it was doing far more than it let on regarding the fired US District Attorneys, Alberto Gonzales admits today that "Mistakes were made." Note he didn't say he (or Miers, or Sampson, or Rove, or anybody) made mistakes, but that "mistakes were made".Peter Levine:
This is a ploy often used by sports stars when they are busted for improper behavior ("I'm sorry it had happened"), and there are definitely people out there who absolutely hate this refusing-responsibility-while-trying-to-appear-responsible... I... absolutely hate this linguistic turn - it gives the speaker credit in the public eye for being recalcitrant even while he/she refuses to acknowledge his/her personal responsibility in wrongdoings.
Most of today's newspapers quote the Attorney General's remark, "mistakes were made," which William Schneider wittily calls the "past exonerative." It was indeed a Nixonian grammatical construction, an inept attempt to evade accountability and moral judgment. But Mr. Gonzalez' phrase is not the one to which I would award the Tricky Dick Memorial Prize for Talking Like a Crook While Saying that You Aren't One. That badge of shame belongs to his former assistant, D. Kyle Sampson, whose memo on tactics ended with a wonderfully self-damning use of scare quotes:I think we should gum this to death. ... Ask the Senators to give Tim [Griffin, the administration's choice for federal prosecutor in Arkansas] a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say "no never" (and the longer we can forestall that the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All this should be done in "good faith" of course.
What is the meaning of "in good faith" in that last sentence? I think it precisely means "in bad faith," but I'm open to correction.