A reader sends in another gem from the British political sitcom, "Yes, Minister." It lays out the five standard excuses given by politicians for screwing something up. I think the president and his spokesmen - Powerline springs to mind, for some reason - hane now used all of them. But I may be wrong. Jim is the politician; Sir Humphrey is the unflappable political maestro. Here they are:

Jim: Five standard excuses?

Sir Humphrey: Yes. First there's the excuse we used for instance in the Anthony Blunt case.

Jim: Which was?

Sir Humphrey: That there is a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything, but security forbids its disclosure.
Second, there is the excuse we used for comprehensive schools, that it has only gone wrong because of heavy cuts in staff and budget which have stretched supervisory resources beyond the limits.

Jim: But that's not true is it?

Sir Humphrey: No, but it's a good excuse. Then there's the excuse we used for Concorde, it was a worthwhile experiment, now abandoned, but not before it had provided much valuable data and considerable employmenpt.

Jim: But that is true isn't it? Oh no, of course it isn't.

Sir Humphrey: The fourth, there's the excuse we used for the Munich agreement. It occurred before certain important facts were known, and couldn't happen again.

Jim: What important facts?

Sir Humphrey: Well, that Hitler wanted to conquer Europe.

Jim: I thought everybody knew that.

Sir Humphrey: Not the Foreign Office.

Jim: Five?

Sir Humphrey: Five, there's the Charge of the Light Brigade excuse. It was an unfortunate lapse by an individual which has now been dealt with under internal disciplinary procedures."

Maybe when we finally get to the Charge of the Light Brigade Excuse, Rummy will be fired.

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