In a surprise move certain to galvanize pro-Qaddafi forces and quell the recent rebel uprisings throughout Libya, embattled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has begun a campaign of changing the subject as often as possible to anything other than Libya.
"It began a couple of weeks ago," said Reuters journalist Everett Jameson, stationed in Tripoli. "After I asked Mr. Qaddafi how his regime could justify violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters, he thought for a long moment and explained that the widespread adoption of nuclear power needs to be rethought in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis."
According to Mr. Jameson, the ensuing confusion among members of the press corps created a split among them with some suddenly wishing to move on to the discussion of the Japanese crisis.
Several other sources report that since then, Mr. Qaddafi has been able to skillfully and successfully leverage the age-old tactic of changing the subject as a means of silencing the critical voice of the international community.
"Frankly, I don't know why I didn't try it sooner," explained Mr. Qaddafi through his translator. "Everyone changes the subject when confronted with an awkward moment. Why not use it to help crush a rebellion?" to which he added "By the way, are you a Pisces or a Virgo?"
U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton confessed that she was flummoxed when, in response to her demand that Qaddafi immediately cease the bombing of rebel forces, Mr. Qaddafi simply replied by congratulating her on her daughter Chelsea’s recent wedding and remarking on Chelsea’s brilliant choice of the Vera Wang strapless wedding gown. "I have to admit, I was stuck," Secretary Clinton said. "His change of subject was so smooth, I didn't even notice it until hours after the conversation was over. And by that time, how was I going to sound, calling him back -- to change the subject back -- without sounding discourteous?"
Libyan rebel forces, who were reportedly deeply shaken by the extent to which Mr. Qaddafi's tactics had met with success, were scrambling to find their own rhetorical devices with which to combat pro-Qaddafi forces.
"We've tried innuendo, loaded questions, dysphemisms -- you name it, but nothing can match Qaddafi's flawless transitions into more comfortable topics of conversation," said the local head of the rebel forces.
While there has been no official word from NATO on these events, sources report that NATO is considering the deployment of language scholars to the area to strengthen the rebel alliance.