What do Alan Greenspan and Fidel Castro Have in Common?

Both recanted – Greenspan partially, Castro ambiguously. However, both surprised the world by expressions of misgivings unimaginable when they had power.

In hearings in the House of Representatives during the second month of the market meltdown of 2008, Greenspan testified that he had “found a flaw” in his market ideology, and conceded that he had been “partially” wrong in opposing regulation of derivatives.

Castro was asked last week whether Cuba’s model of Soviet-style communism was still worth exporting. “The Cuban model doesn’t work even for us any more,” he told Geoffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic (pictured here with Castro) Later, when Castro was asked whether he meant that the state played too big a role in the Cuban economy, he replied, “Just the opposite.”

He also said he regretted asking Khrushchev during the Missile Crisis to nuke the U.S.

That, at any rate, was clear.

There was a time when Alan Greenspan’s self-confidence was unshakeable. That was when he said that if people thought they understood what he said they must have misunderstood him.

In his three-hour speeches, Castro, in his day, was never cryptic. Nor was he cryptic last week when he accused President Sarkozy of carrying out a “racial holocaust” by deporting a thousand Roma from France.

Sarkozy indignantly rejected the remark as unacceptable and showing ignorance of history.

Unacceptable? Castro never meant for a second that Sarkozy would accept what he was offering.

It seems that in French, English and German the word is now generally used as an expression of extreme outrage – not mere misgivings – without reference to its literal meaning. That would have meant that the charge would be sent back because it could not be accepted.

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2 responses to “What do Alan Greenspan and Fidel Castro Have in Common?

  1. Hmm… so we can add add the Sarkozy “unacceptable” to the current lexicon along side “mis-understood” as in the wonderful Greenspan quote.

  2. ‘uacceptable’ was (as I dimly recall) the Canadian government’s response to General de Gaulle’s ‘vive le Québec libre’ cry in Montreal in 1967. The General then went home – though the prospect of continuing his tour on to Ottawa may have discouraged him anyway (Ottawa in 1967 not being the attractive place it has since become).