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July 26, 2004

What Words Actually Mean

This website exists to do several things. One of them is to provide a helpful translation service. For instance, when Richard Holbrooke says:

“It seems to me that John Kerry is as perfect an embodiment of our national passage since 1965 as John F. Kennedy was for an earlier generation... John F. Kennedy and George Bush senior were good heroes in a good war. Kerry was a good hero in a bad war... John Kerry is normally a cautious person, except that every once in a while he does these amazing things, like turning his Swift boat right at his Vietcong attackers. He is both careful and fearless, cautious when he approaches an issue, and then very decisive. He's not scared of head-on confrontation."

It means:

"Oh my GOD I want to be Secretary of State."

If I were John Kerry and I heard someone saying that about me ("you're the embodiment of our national passage!"), I'd throw up. Then I'd tell that person that I'd hire him for a prestigious post in my administration, just as soon as (1) I'm elected and (2) the sun explodes.

But of course Kerry won't do that. There's something about the psyche of almost all leaders that requires constant obsequious sycophancy from those around them. For instance, according to a recent New Yorker article by Edmund Morris, Ronald Reagan "ate up flattery with a spoon."

And thus almost all leaders are surrounded by repellent lickspittles. That's why you have Douglas Feith recently saying stuff like this (Washington Post, March 14, 2004; not online):

"[Our work on Iraq-Al Qaeda connections] was interesting enough that I brought it to Secretary Rumsfeld because Secretary Rumsfeld is well known for being a particularly intelligent reader of intelligence."

Translated, this of course meant:

"Please don't fire me."

Posted at July 26, 2004 10:16 AM | TrackBack