Brother Benen absolutely nails the familial pattern in Jeb Bush’s choice of words, in his Big Foreign Policy Speech:

In 1986, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush offered an unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for the Iran-Contra scandal in which the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran in order to finance an illegal war on Nicaragua.

“Clearly, mistakes were made,” Bush said.

In 2004, then-President George W. Bush offered an eerily similar unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for the Abu Ghraib scandal, in which U.S. officials tortured detainees at an Iraqi prison:

“It’s also important for the people of Iraq to know that in a democracy, everything is not perfect, that mistakes are made,” Bush said.

In 2015, former Gov. Jeb Bush offered a practically identical, unsatisfying, passive-voice explanation for his brother’s catastrophic war in Iraq, launched under false pretenses, and bungled every step of the way.

“Let’s go to Iraq,” Bush said during the Q&A at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure.

One family, multiple scandals, one phrase.

It’s more than a little unfortunate Jebbie fell into this habit (itself a sign of someone who has trouble accepting or assigning responsibility) after a speech that was telegraphed as declaring his independence from the foreign policy legacy of his father and his brother. I mean, what can he do for an encore? Say “read my lips, no tax increase”? Start babbling about strategery?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.