The obituary of former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger is a stupendous exercise in passive-aggressive backhanded compliments. Take it away, New York Times!
A brilliant, often abrasive Harvard-educated economist, Mr. Schlesinger went to Washington in 1969 as an obscure White House budget official. Over the next decade he became chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, director of Central Intelligence, a cabinet officer for three presidents (two of whom fired him), a thorn to congressional leaders and a controversial national public figure.
Lovely, isn't it? "Brilliant, often abrasive". "Obscure". "A thorn". "Controversial"! And that terrific parenthetical aside... Oh, that obituary writer is worth every penny!
And then there is this:
He was raised in a Jewish household but became a Lutheran as an adult.
We liked it better when he was called abrasive...