Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Another Humdinger from Rumsfeld

Defending himself last week after the leaking of a memo in which he painted a far less-rosy picture of the "war on terror" than the Bush administration had previously presented to the public, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld turned for recourse to the Oxford English Dictionary.

During an unannounced appearance at a Pentagon briefing last Thursday, the secretary "said he stood by his view, as disclosed in what was to have been a private memo, that the United States faced 'a long, hard slog' in Iraq. But he quickly added that his preferred definition was spelled out in the Oxford English Dictionary as 'slog — to hit or strike hard, to drive with blows, to assail violently.' "

You'd think that anyone who bothered to look up words in the OED would recognize the difference between a noun and a verb, but Rumsfeld, ever the master linguist, proved his manipulative mettle in verbiage once again.

If you read the full transcript of Rumsfeld's remarks, it's clear that he intended his "definition" as a joke. Problem is, to borrow a line from Morrissey, that joke isn't funny anymore.