By Steve Benen
When the New York Times first reported on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) bridge scandal last week, it published a report on page A23. By Saturday, the
controversy had worked its way to page A1.
In other words, the political relevance of this story, which we’ve been following with great interest, appears to be increasing.
After having brushed off the scandal as “crazy” earlier in the week, by Friday the governor was willing to concede “a mistake got made.” This is, of course, a classic of passive-voice politics – during the Bush/Cheney administration’s U.S. Attorney scandal, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said “mistakes were made.” During the Iran-Contra affair in 1986, then-President Reagan said “mistakes were made.” In the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, then-President Bush said, “It’s also important for the people of Iraq to know that in a democracy, everything is not perfect, that mistakes are made.”
The problem with passive voice, of course, is that it’s intended to obscure responsibility. Christie is now prepared to admit “a mistake got made,” but the question remains: who made the mistake?