The best politicians — or worst, depending on your politics on politics — are the ones who can successfully work semantics and ambiguity to their benefit. Cantinfleando or cantinflear, is what we colloquially call it in Mexico, and the term takes after the popular actor Cantinflas — specifically for his tendency to speak in puzzling and vague dialogue. The technique needs to be mastered and constantly practiced because otherwise a politician can end up like Bolivian President Evo Morales: shamed for saying dumb, homophobic remarks:
Morales has had to apologize for scolding his health minister, Ariana Campero, for not paying close attention to his speech on Monday at a ceremony to hand over some new ambulances. ‘I hate to think you are a lesbian,’ he told Campero.
This isn’t the first time Evo makes outlandish and homophobic proclamations. Back in 2010 he said dudes go bald and gay because they eat chicken — which is actually a hilariously terrible theory.
Anyway. Understandably, lots of people got pissed at Evo for hating to think that his own Health Minister may be a lesbian. But did Morales really say what he came out of his mouth? Not according to his apology:
‘To say, or to ask, or to think whether someone is lesbian or gay is not an insult or an offensive remark,’ read Morales’ statement, posted on the Communications Ministry’s website. ‘I and my government have nothing against anyone’s sexual preferences […] I humbly and sincerely apologize. It wasn’t my intention to offend anyone.’
You see, Evo meant to ask Ariana Campero if she is a lesbian, and not that he “hates to think” she’s a lesbian. Or something. I don’t know.
Vague insinuations, nebulous and equivocal meanings — if you ever want to try your hand at politics and government, kids, remember: talk a lot, say nothing.