Say what you will about Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf being a power-crazed autocrat, an undemocratic military authoritarian who rules by force alone, a swaggering and pompous man who thinks nothing of suspending a nation's rule of law in order to reassert his own tenuous hold on political control.
You can call him a transparent, corrupt double-dealer who uses America's desperation in the War on Terror to bolster his personal status as an undeserving player on the world stage. But there's no denying he can give a good speech.
And when you feel the need to torch your country's constitution and send out troops to shut down media outlets and menace the Supreme Court, communication is important. It lets the population at home and abroad know that you're not just a guy who will throw them in jail for dissent; you're also a guy who appreciates a good Abe Lincoln quote.
"Was it possible to lose the nation and yet preserve the Constitution?" Musharraf, in a speech to the world, quoted from Lincoln. The unspoken answer? Hell no! As dictator, it is Musharraf's responsibility to destroy the Constitution to save the nation, with "the nation" meaning "his job." Just like Honest Abe! Suck on that, Americans!
Sure, US diplomats can gripe about Musharraf being an obtuse crook who would be more comfortable as the nightmarish gun-toting head of some banana republic's puppet junta. But you can't disagree with Lincoln fighting slavery. Rhetoric wins!
3. On the right track