Speak loudly and carry a small stick

by John Holbo on October 14, 2006

Everyone is much amusing by our President’s proclivity for finding things ‘unacceptable’. (As in: you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it does.) I got curious whether anyone had made the obvious inversion of Teddy R’s wisdom. Turns out Josh Marshall said it, back in early 2003:

Speak softly and carry a big stick. Or, speak loudly and carry a big stick. Or maybe even speak softly and get by with a small stick. But, for God’s sake, don’t speak loudly and carry a small stick. And yet that’s precisely what President Bush has been doing on the Korean Peninsula issue for two years …

Wait, it’s coming to me in a vision: speak sensibly, and carry a medium-sized stick and a medium-sized carrot (which was the fashion at the time). Damn, we all pretty much miss the Clinton years, don’t we? (You can make jokes about Clinton’s carrot if you like. Doesn’t change a thing.)



Adam Kotsko 10.14.06 at 8:29 pm

From what I recall, Clinton actually carried a cucumber.


"Q" the Enchanter 10.14.06 at 8:31 pm

“You can make jokes about Clinton’s carrot if you like. Doesn’t change a thing.”

Nice preemption.


roy belmont 10.14.06 at 10:20 pm

Shut up and pretend you don’t have a stick.


bad Jim 10.15.06 at 1:42 am

Whether Clinton wielded a zucchini, a carrot or a cuke, it’s clear that he (or any president or prime minister of an assortment of nations), no matter how small his (or her) army, wields an impressive array of weapons of the category nuke.

Which is why our nations continue to negotiate with North Korea, and why we mere citizens continue to hope that our nation(s) won’t attack Iran just because ayatollahs are scarier than commissars.

We can’t use the nuke, and it’s not just that Japan would object to our using nuclear weapons again, is it?


Timothy 10.15.06 at 5:00 am

Yes, apparently Bush’s “Stick” is quite small I just had to say that sorry :( .


Jacob Christensen 10.15.06 at 9:53 am

President Clinton, as I recall it, became most famous for using a cigar.

Regarding political speak, though on a smaller scale, I recently noted that the Danish prime minister took to repeating the phrase “jeg er nødt til at sige, at…” (in English roughly “I have to say that…” or “I am forced to say that…”) in a speech where he addressed complaints about changes in the financing of local government authorities (In a Danish context this issue is just as complicated and potentially even more deadly than Iraq).

The aim was obviously to depict his counterparts (mayors, the Local Government Association, Social Democrats, the ususal suspects, etc) as people who wouldn’t stand by an agreement and thus forcing the PM to state the obivous, but when the phrase appeared something like eight times in one minute during the speech, I started to find it not just annoying, but unacceptable.


bob 10.15.06 at 1:37 pm

The Dalek Emperor: ‘Reasons are irrelevant. Failure is unacceptable.’


Matt Kuzma 10.15.06 at 3:01 pm

Help! Stick… metaphor… overload.


engels 10.16.06 at 9:46 am

Pretzels can be effective dangerous too.


engels 10.16.06 at 9:46 am

Pretzels can be pretty effective too.


Adam Roberts 10.17.06 at 2:21 am

“…our President’s proclivity …’

Not my President, thanks very much.

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