The Office of William Jefferson Clinton recently sent a letter to a New York restaurant owner, demanding that a photograph of Chelsea Clinton, being displayed in the restaurant, be removed. The antepenultimate sentence in the letter has caused an uproar, at least at Althouse. The offending sentence reads as follows:
We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us if you refuse to comply.
Parse the sentence: “We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us.” What sense does it make? Whatever “options” are “available,” if they are available, they are available. What “right” are you “reserv[ing]”? If it’s an option it can be “exercise[d].” So, “We reserve the right to exercise any and all options available to us” means absolutely nothing more than “we might have some options.” Which means nothing. And doesn’t sound threatening at all. Obviously, you want the reader to think you’re saying we have options and we intend to exercise them if you don’t comply. But you haven’t said that.
The professor continued her harangue,
I question Clinton’s use of the seal — or what seems to be the seal — for private interests of this kind.
Both posts are well worth the read.