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So, I understand that in the hope of re-election, politicians often have to maintain a pretense of infallibility. The assumption being that they must have done everything right in the past, in order to do everything right in the future.

Reality does not reflect this pretense, human beings make mistakes, do selfish things and, for whatever reason, make bad decisions.

I can't bring any instances to mind where a politician has gone on record to state words to the effect of "I was wrong", "This was a mistake I made" or "That was a wrong turn". Are there instances of this?

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    Have you googled for it? There are tons of such examples. Every time there is any scandal some politician ultimately goes 'I'm sorry I was wrong to do this'. – David says Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '17 at 17:08
  • Aren't most political scandals when someone else has proved a politician did something wrong, any they're forced to take the consequences? That's conviction, not an admission of a mistake. – AJFaraday Feb 2 '17 at 18:06
  • oversimplifying, but yes. But also after they are caught they tend to say"oops sorry" – David says Reinstate Monica Feb 2 '17 at 18:17
  • @DavidGrinberg I guess I was looking for something more altruistic. – AJFaraday Feb 2 '17 at 18:17
  • Nixon sorta did, right? – user1530 Feb 2 '17 at 18:52
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I can't bring any instances to mind where a politician has gone on record to state words to the effect of "I was wrong", "This was a mistake I made" or "That was a wrong turn". Are there instances of this?

politicans admitting mistakes is quite common. the latest I can remember was Obama admitting his inability to foresee what was going to happen in libya.

and that's not the only time.

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