Foreign Policy Blogs

Getting 527-ed

Let’s say a guy is asked publicly whether he condemns a certain terrible thing.  But the guy doesn’t want to publicly condemn this thing.  So to evade the question, he instead condemns the entire category of things into which this specific thing belongs.

Is there a name for this?

This is what Ahmadinejad did on Charlie Rose when asked what he thought about execution by stoning.  (Find the video and transcript here.)

Ahmadinejad levied many appropriate attacks on the question.  He noted that many U.S. allies engage in equally brutal, if not more brutal, forms of execution.  He alluded to, I think, the hanging of Saddam Hussein.  He noted that the U.S. has more than 50 women on death row.  But he also said this:

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Allow me. Allow me. I disagree that people should be injected with poison.

CHARLIE ROSE: Fair enough.


CHARLIE ROSE: Fair enough. How about hanging? How about hanging?

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: Anything. We don’t like to see these things happen. I don’t even want to see an ant killed let alone human beings.

So to avoid coming out against stoning, he instead came out against all forms of execution and all forms of killing, of people and all living creatures, including insects.

This is the same tactic Bush used during the 2004 election to avoid condemning the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry.  There was a big quesiton about whether Bush would condemn the ads.  But instead of doing so, Bush condemned all 527 ads:

Q. But why won’t you denounce the charges that your supporters are making against Kerry?

The President. I’m denouncing all the stuff being on TV of the 527s. That’s what I’ve said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process.


Q. Do you—when you say that you want to stop all——

The President. All of them.

Q. Does that mean——

The President. That means that ad, every other ad.

So I say we call this “Getting 527-ed.”  Swift Boating has made its way into the modern-day lexicon.  Why not this?  In 2004, the Democrats got 527-ed.  Last month, Charlie Rose got 527-ed by Ahmadinejad.  Go forth and spread the term like wildfire…

UPDATE: Charlie Rose was also 527-ed by Turkey’s President, Abdullah Gul, on Iran sanctions (video and transcript here):

CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe sanctions will have an impact on Iran?

ABDULLAH GUL: In general, not just related to Iran, my view is this – sanctions are not working well, you see, because then you imply sanctions, to whom you are going to punish? The government or the people or what section of the people? And also the people they get hostile to those using sanctions, you see. So it’s not very much workable, you see. So therefore that is not very useful.