Warren Buffett is America's billionaire because he is the quintessential grandpa. Like grandpa, he enjoys the simple things: Coca-Cola, ice cream sundaes, potato chips. Like grandpa, he speaks in a steady patter of cracker-barrel profundities and mild ribaldry. And, like grandpa, he's prone to blurt out jokes that betray a sexual politics about half a century behind their time.
In a discussion over the recent Kraft-Heinz-Unilever takeover on CNBC's Squawk Box Monday morning – as Business Insider reporter Portia Crowe first flagged on Twitter – Buffett dropped this little gem:
BUFFETT: Now I might mention you know, it reminds me of that old story about the difference between a diplomat and a lady. I don't know whether you've ever heard that or not.
BECKY QUICK: No.
BUFFETT: Well, if a diplomat says yes, he means maybe. If he says maybe, he means no. And if he says no, he's no diplomat. And if a lady says no, she means maybe. And if she says maybe, she means yes. And if she says yes, she's no lady.
As anyone who has been conscious in the last 30 years knows, the only acceptable interpretation of a sexual partner saying “no” is, in fact, no. That's not to mention the more recent advent of affirmative consent – “yes means yes” – which in Buffett's formulation become a thoroughly unladylike practice. One can only imagine the aneurysms Buffett's PR staff suffered as he plowed ahead with what amounts to a frat-boy meme out of the early 2000s on national TV.
But considering the fact that Buffett proposed to his first wife all the way back in the sexual dark ages of 1951, he might be a bit behind on the mechanics of consent. Should he get a pass? If we're being diplomatic, let's go with “maybe.”