In 1930 William Empson elaborated Seven Types of Ambiguity for the literary crowd. The Biden administration is adapting the concept to give us Seven Types of Confusion. We can itemize the confusion that derives from gratuitous fabrication. We also have the confusion related to the persistent assertion of the thing which is not so, as Swift puts it in Book IV of Gulliver’s Travels. We continue with the confusion that descends with advanced age.

President Biden has rendered the official American policy of strategic ambiguity regarding Taiwan into another type of confusion. Following up on the confusion we documented in “Walk right back” yesterday morning, Biden reiterated our continuing commitment to the official policy even though he himself had contradicted it in his Tokyo press conference. The White House has posted the transcript here. Unlike Professor Empson, he could not explain — deepening the confusion.

In “I Can’t Explain” the Who put it this way: “Dizzy in the head and I’m feeling bad / The things you’ve said have got me real mad.”

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