fun with phrases

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 20 00:54:58 UTC 2011

Here is an excerpt from the article by Thomas L. Friedman containing
the phrase "pottery store rule" that was mentioned in this thread by
LH who gave a date of February 12, 2003 in his first message on this
topic. Friedman employs the cliché variant with "own it" instead of
"bought it" or "buy it".

Date: 2003 February 12
Newspaper: New York Times
Title: Present at ... What?
Author: Thomas L. Friedman
Page: A37
Location: New York
Database: ProQuest
<Begin excerpt>
Let's start with the Bush hawks. The first rule of any Iraq invasion
is the pottery store rule: You break it, you own it. We break Iraq, we
own Iraq - and we own the primary responsibility for rebuilding a
country of 23 million people that has more in common with Yugoslavia
than with any other Arab nation.
<End excerpt>


On Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 8:27 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: fun with phrases
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, we broke it by fixing it. If Friedman claims he coined it in 2002,
> it could not be about Iraq. Woodward certainly used it in reference to
> Iraq in 2004.
> I WAS tryig to make a joke at Friedman's expense...
>     VS-)
> On 10/19/2011 7:25 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> On Oct 19, 2011, at 4:43 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
>>> If I understand Friedman's version correctly as a foreign policy
>>> commentary, then the correct version should be, "If you fix it, you own
>>> it."
>> I don't see that.  I thought Friedman's point was that we did break Iraq ("Stuff happens"), and so now (2003) we owned it, and it was our responsibility to fix it, and so on.  But the breaking did come first (even though he was gung-ho for the invasion before he was against it, to not coin a phrase).
>> LH
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