Why politicians and academics don’t just say what they mean

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media last week in Geneva about the Ukraine crisis. “I want to make this crystal clear.”

John Kerry, America’s ever-more-pontifical secretary of state, recently began an answer about Middle East peace negotiations by declaring, as he often does: “I want to make this crystal clear.”

He then went on to do the opposite, blathering on about “facilitation,” building eventually to this howler: “The president is desirous of trying to see how we can make our best efforts in order to find a way to facilitate.”

Listening, I marvelled. Why would such an accomplished, educated man gum up an answer so thoroughly?

Surely it would have been simpler to say the president wants to help.

I covered Kerry’s presidential run in 2004, and while he’s always liked pompous language, his rhetoric since becoming Obama’s top diplomat has become positively constipated…