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"It was February 2006 in Munich, and John McCain's eyes were flashing with the mischievous spark that comes when he's about to fire a verbal rocket. 'I've got a zinger coming,' he told me, referring to a speech on Russia he would give a few hours later at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy." Wow! What sort of zinger did McCain have planned for the Munich Conference on Security Policy? Did Gunther Beckstein, Minister-President of Bavaria, look like a painted trollop? Or was it the one where a gorilla rapes Richard Holbrooke? Tell us, David Ignatius, what was this zinger you've set up so thrillingly?

And McCain did indeed deliver a zinger. He blasted Vladimir Putin for "the pursuit of autocracy at home and abroad" — and then urged that Russia be excluded from the G-8 summit of industrialized nations. For good measure, he included a call for Georgia, already a thorn in Russia's side, to join NATO.

Wait, what? We realize both McCain and Ignatius are very, very old, but "zinger" is a very old word too, and one that back in 1910 surely still meant "a cutting wisecrack" and not "irresponsible posturing." That, Mr. McCain, is not a "zinger." For shame.