this man Round

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So, Jessica Mitford relates the story of a young fellow who was working for the Foreign Office just after the War, reading various memoranda about the world situation from the far-flung FO men, commenting on them, and passing them up. The fellow says that he got one memo that was such utter rubbish, just so completely worthless that he felt that the only thing he could do was write BALLS across the top and leave it at that. However, cognizant of the Ladies (the Foreign Office was then run by layers of secretaries, who were utterly without formal training and were considered by everyone to be virginal, prim and unworldly, and were also considered by everyone to be the final and certain source of all accurate information about anything) (which organizational structure is the closest to perfection achieved by mortals) the FO man hoped to convey the idea without offense by writing ROUND OBJECTS instead. It seems that two weeks later, the memo came back, with another note, this one in Anthony Eden’s handwriting: Who is this man Round, and what exactly is his objection?

Your Humble Blogger just heard this story, and has therefore been unable to use it before this week. It seems, however, that it will become a watchword of mine, at least in the silent recesses of my snickering synapses. For instance, it is absolutely clear that almost everything said by Our Only President and his cabal of incompetents and crooks on the subject of Iran is utter and complete ROUND OBJECTS. And yet, it isn’t possible, within the context of our national discussion, to simply dismiss them outright. Who is this man Round? ask our punditry, and what exactly is his objection?. His objection is that it is utter balls. His objection is that it shouldn’t be worth anybody’s time listening to any specific objection. This man Round objects to anything in that memo being taken seriously by anyone, and this man Round objects to even having to say so.

It’s not just Our Only President, of course. Listening to NPR, these days, often seems to me to be an exercise in journalists attempting to explain the precise objections of this man Round. And, I should add, doing so tactfully, so as to make it very clear that when, for instance, General Musharraf says that he will take off his uniform and hold elections, and that there is a clear and obvious path of peace between here and a democratic Pakistan without Pervez Musharraf at its head, that is a memo we should read carefully. Oh, yes. We can address all of this man Round’s objections, yes we can, if he will only specify them.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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