Drew Danielson drew.danielson at CMU.EDU
Wed Dec 13 15:31:12 UTC 2000

Joseph McCollum wrote:
> I should try to find the exact quotation, but someone (it may have been
> Benjamin Netanyahu or one of his supporters) called Barak's strategy of
> resigning (in order to prevent Netanyahu from running for Prime Minister
> of Israel) a "cynical strategy."  I think it was 'strategy' -- it may
> have been 'plan' or some such.  The first time I really noticed this use
> of 'cynical' was during the Persian Gulf War -- Saddam Hussein had
> performed a "cynical manipulation" of public opinion, according to Marlin
> Fitzwater.
> Now a cynic is someone who believes that others are selfish, deceitful,
> etc.  Diogenes carried a burning torch in broad daylight while trying to
> find an honest man. I think "selfish manipulation" or "selfish strategy"
> would have been better.  Fitzwater was the cynic.  He believed that
> Hussein was selfish.  Netanyahu's supporters were cynics.  They believed
> that Barak acted selfishly.
> What do you think???

Although it seems to be giving credit where it may not be due, is it not
possible that Fitzwater in one case and Netanyahu (or his supporter) in
the other, were acknowledging that their opponents see _them_ as
selfish, deceitful, etc., and that the opponents have developed
strategies with that idea in mind?

That's probably reading too much into what was said; more likely is the
idea that "no one likes a cynic" - cynicism is a complex negative
sentiment that many people don't really understand completely - so let's
attribute that quality to our opponents.  "Devious" or "selfish" may be
more precise words in the context (that devious/selfish Barak, finding a
way to thwart Netanyahu), but perhaps that sounds too much like
name-calling (and in the case of Fitzwater's statement, "devious" is
both alarmist and cartoonish, and "selfish" doesn't carry much weight).

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