In the act of committing something wrong.Merriam-Webster:
In the act of committing a crime or misdeed.So Charlie Bass doesn't like MoveOn's ads about his Iraq appropriations votes because of that word. According to the Concord Monitor (thanks to NH-02 Progressive for the catch)
Bass's campaign singled out the claim that Bass was caught red-handed. The campaign, using the Oxford English Dictionary, said the term means Bass has been caught in "the very act of crime."
"It is an intentional and false smear on his character and integrity," the letter said.
Anyone wonder how many dictionaries they looked at before they found the one that just said "crime" and not "crime OR misdeed/something wrong"?
Because it would be wrong to accuse Bass of an actual crime. He didn't commit one. But see, in voting for funding for the Iraq war on 13 separate occasions (PDF), he did "commit something wrong" or "commit a misdeed." Or, you know, 13 of them.
Did he know the first time he voted for money for Iraq that the things the MoveOn ad details would happen - that Halliburton would get $18 billion, much of it in no-bid contracts, that nearly $9 billion would end up "unaccounted for because of inefficiencies and bad management"? Probably not.
Maybe Charlie Bass didn't know those things the second, or the third or even the fourth times he voted for money for Iraq. But the eleventh time? The twelfth? The thirteenth? If he didn't know by then what he was voting for, his red-handedness problem stems not from being caught in a misdeed but in stupidity that defies belief.
In any case, the facts are indisputable: Whatever you thought of it at its inception, whatever you think of the politics or morality of it, the Iraq war has been horrifically mismanaged. And Charlie Bass has been there every step of the way, helping make it go on and on and on. That is the result of his "character and integrity."
2,638 members of the American military dead. Tens of thousands of Iraqis dead. Tens of thousands of Americans wounded. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent. Growing civil war in Iraq. No end in sight.
But no, it would be wrong to use a word like "red-handed."