Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Rummy’s Anglo-Saxon words

It is true that in this golden world there are many reputed to be wise for saying nothing (listen to almost any professor!). And then there are the happy few who mince not the general tongue; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is one of those rare fellows. It is his occupation to be plain, he doesn’t want to neutralize or suppress the adversary, but kill the foe. Oh that good old Anglo-Saxon tongue!

Surprisingly, therefore, something called Plain English has given a "Foot-in-Mouth Award to Rumsfeld for this spoken paragraph below.

"Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because, as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don’t know we don’t know."

London’s Guardian in a brief paragraph says this, with which I agree: "This is indeed a complex, almost Kantian, thought. It needs a little concentration to follow it. Yet it is anything but foolish. It is also perfectly clear. It is expressed in admirably plain English, with not a word of jargon or gobbledygook in it. A Cambridge literary theorist, US Air Force war gamer or Treasury tax law draftsman would be sacked for producing such a useful thought so simply expressed in good Anglo-Saxon words. So let Rummy be. The Plain English Campaign should find itself a more deserving target for its misplaced mockery."

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