Rumsfeld wins bafflement prize

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

LONDON -- He may not know it -- or know that he knows it -- but Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has won this year's "Foot in Mouth" award for the most baffling statement by a public figure.

Britain's Plain English Campaign, scourge of jargon, cliches and legalese, announced the honors Tuesday. The winning entry:

"As we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

"We think we know what he means," said Plain English Campaign spokesman John Lister. "But we don't know if we really know."

The runner-up was a statement made by Arnold Schwarzenegger to a radio interviewer: "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

British politician Chris Patten was singled out for his assessment of Britain's main opposition party: "Having committed political suicide, the Conservative Party is now living to regret it."

On the Net

Plain English Campaign: www.plainenglish.co.uk

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