11 February 2005

"Cute"--What more could Rumsfeldt have said?

A lot of people (including myself) are getting true enjoyment from Rumsfeldt's handling of that "cute" reporter from the International Herlad-Tribune--the one who suggested that, because recently he has had some praise for NATO, he might "give up the whole idea of coalitions of the willing." But I do think that he let her off a bit too easily.

If I were Secretary of Defense (Perish the thought!), here's how I would have handled her--for whatever it may be worth:

"Dear sweet lady. Please allow me to take precious moments out of my limited funds of time and patience and give you just the tip of the iceberg-sized lesson in logic you so desperately require. My past criticisms of NATO were not universal, as if I were to have said that, 'For all NATO, NATO is worthy of criticism and no praise whatsoever.' My past criticisms were of specific policies and decisions, not all policies and decisions, past, present and future. In the same way, my present praise is not universal, as if I were saying that, 'For all NATO, NATO is worthy of praise and no criticism whatsoever.' My present praise is of specific recent decisions and policies, not all policies and decisions, past, present and future. And that praise does not negate my past criticisms. And so dear lady, there is no logical inconsistency between my past criticisms and my present praise such that I must surrender the idea of a coalition of the willing. In much the same way that one goes to war with the armed forces one has at the time one goes to war, one also goes to war with those allies who are willing to go to war at the time one goes to war. Now, go home, sit in the still quiet of your flat, and re-evaluate your life."

I suppose, since he could hardly have gone into all that, "Cute" is just about as good a response as any. It's also better than, "Zounds! What a dazzlingly stupid woman you are! Next question, please." (He must surely have been tempted--even for just a moment.)

Incidentally, "zounds" (short for "By His wounds") is my favorite Shakespearean interjection.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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