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‘Calibrate Me, Dick’

The Guardian notes the latest bizarre phraseology to emerge from the White House — Calibrate me, Dick:

From Donald Rumsfeld – the man who brought you known unknowns and unknown unknowns – comes a phrase so disorienting in its weirdness that even seasoned Rumsfeldologists have been taken aback by its increasingly frequent use at Pentagon briefings. Uttered one way, it sounds combative like Dirty Harry; uttered another, camp like Austin Powers.

In fact, it appears to be just a hi-tech, precision-guided version of ‘correct me if I’m wrong’, the Dick in question being General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Worryingly, ‘Calibrate me’ is also the name of a song by the scary indie rock group Atombombpocketknife: could Rumsfeld be a fan?

Typical recent usage: ‘The Republican Guard has – calibrate me, Dick – they pulled south in the north and they went north in the southern portion of the country.’

Context in which it almost certainly did not occur, circa 2002: ‘Calibrate me, Dick, but I really don’t think we’re going to need all that much heavy infantry to take Baghdad, are we?’