"It’s like listening to someone speaking a language you only partly know. And who’s being paid by the syllable. You miss a lot. I guess a guy bearing up under such a chestload of hardware — and pretty ribbons in a variety of decorator colors — can’t be expected to speak like ordinary mortals, for example you and me. He should try once saying — instead of “ongoing process of high level engagements” — maybe something in colloquial English? Like: “fights” or “meetings” (or whatever the hell it’s supposed to mean).
I find it painful to watch this team of two straight men, straining on the potty of language. Only to deliver such . . . what? Such knobbed and lumpy artifacts of superfluous verbiage? (Sorry, now I’m doing it…)
But I must hand it to his generalship. He did say something quite clearly and admirably and I am grateful for his frankness. He told us that our gains are largely imaginary: that our alleged “progress” is “fragile and reversible.” (Quite an accomplishment in our sixth year of war.) This provides, of course, a bit of pre-emptive covering of the general’s hindquarters next time that, true to Murphy’s Law, things turn sour again." Cavett
These two gents certainly were adrift in a semantical whitewater rafting expedition.
A lot of generals have learned to speak a specialized dialect in which they utter broken, incomplete, sentences, stumble over words and never fully express an answer to whatever it was they were asked. This is a technique, acquired I suppose, from observing others who have "made it" to high rank. If you talk that way, it is impossible to analyze transcripts or memory and assign blame for a trip "south" in whatever process the general may be engaged.
State Department guys do not usually resort to such rhetorical devices, preferring to express whatever it is, in a preppy imitation of actual culture and learning. Crocker has spent a lot of time around the military and I believe he has family connections to the soldiery. So, his style is a blend of the two. In private he can be quite pointed and nasty. Somehow all the duhs, uhs, etc. disappear on such occasions.
At a conference I was moderating a few months ago, I grew weary of listening to this kind of "burospeek" and asked one man if by "kinetic exhaustion" he meant "tired of fighting." He admitted that he did. pl