Condi: Dudes, we’re not perfect

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I spent Thursday in Washington listening to members of the Bush administration explain themselves to the Young Global Leaders of the World Economic Forum (a club to which I, absurdly enough, belong). The deal was that most of the chats were off the record. I’d feel worse about adhering to that agreement if anything truly revelatory had been said, but I can testify that these people are pretty diligent about staying on message even when off the record.

Anyway, Condoleezza Rice was the shining exception to the whole off-the-record thing. To the extent that the entire transcript of her remarks and subsequent Q&A are online, and so is the video.

That renders the notes I scribbled all over my Young Global Leaders program entirely superfluous. Now I can just cut and past the examples straight out of the transcript. Anyway, I thought I detected a mini-theme of semi-apology in her remarks. Although it may be that, even with the “mini-” and the “semi-“, I’m overstating it. You be the judge:

From her speech: “We know that change is difficult and that high-minded principles don’t always mean that you’re living up to them.”

In an answer to a question about the Iraq war: “We’re not perfect. We’re not always going to make the right decisions. We will always make decisions that we thought were right. And so we have to recognize that these are complicated times.”

A little further on in that same response: “I would never say that everything that we’ve done would — has been good in this cause, but it has always been in good faith.”

Not quite “mistakes were made.” But interesting. Oh, and here’s what Condi and World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab look like when photographed with a cell phone from about 10 rows back: