Continuing our theme of the malleable nature of words in Washington, I’m wondering, why did Jay Carney repeatedly use the word “blunt” today when he meant to say “mushy.”
Carney was pressed during the daily briefing to explain why the United States won’t call the coup in Egypt a coup. And he several times declared that he was going to be blunt – and then said we gotta figure things out, things are complex, and we’re thinkin’ on it, along with other vague formulations.
You think I’m kidding? From the briefing:
In answer to your question, specifically, about what we call what happened, I’ll be blunt. This is an incredibly complex and difficult situation . . .
Does this man look like he’s being blunt to you?
I don’t know, Jay’s a smart guy who actually deploys the English language better than any of the press secretaries I’ve dealt with, starting with Bill Clinton’s Mike McCurry. I’m pretty sure he understands the meaning of “blunt.” Unless just before he walked out today he got hit in the head with something blunt.
But even after telling CBS’s Major Garret that “I’ve been very blunt about the fact that we are going to examine this and monitor this and take the time necessary in making the determination,” Jay wasn’t finished:
And I’m being very blunt that there is not a simple or easy answer here and that it is in our interest to acknowledge that there is not a simple and easy answer here.
Alright already. Jay, thou dost protest thy bluntness a bit too much, wethinks!
I’m going to be very blunt about the fact that Jay was trying to hypnotize White House reporters into thinking he was being blunt through the power of suggestion. As in . . .
Keep your eyes on the watch as it sways back in forth. I’m being very blunt. Very blunt. Blunt I tell you. Not mushy. Blunt. When you awaken, you will write a story saying Jay Carney was being very blunt. Now, on the count of ten . . .
Jay also tried to hypnotize reporters into believing he was being candid about all the mushiness he was describing as bluntness:
I think the point is — and I’m trying to be very candid here — is that this is a complex situation and it is not in our interest to move unnecessarily quickly in making a determination . . . And again, I’m trying to be candid here about — you’ll get no argument from me if you go on the air and say that this is a highly complicated situation that requires very carefully monitoring and engagement.
Well, this is clearly a bad move. You don’t have to be a grandmaster at verbal chess to understand that the minute you say you’re being candid, it suggests sometimes you are not being candid.
Anyway, reporters know it’s not a press secretary’s job to be candid, and they don’t expect it. But he could have at least been candid about not being blunt.