Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 13 02:36:37 UTC 2000

>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
>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???

I think this is a train that's already left the station.  Here's the
AHD4 entry for "cynical"; note the juxtaposition of senses 1 and 2:

1. Believing or showing the belief that people are motivated chiefly
by base or selfish concerns;
skeptical of the motives of others: "a cynical dismissal of the
politician's promise to reform the
campaign finance system."
2. Selfishly or callously calculating: "showed a cynical disregard
for the safety of his troops in his efforts to advance his
3. Negative or pessimistic, as from world-weariness: "a cynical view
of the average voter's intelligence."
4. Expressing jaded or scornful skepticism or negativity: "cynical laughter."


More information about the Ads-l mailing list