Quote: “We didn’t think we were hiring Dag Hammarskjold.” Anonymous member of the Harvard Corporation in Slate.
Figure of Speech: litotes (lie TOE tees), the figure of ironic understatement.
Harvard’s president, the less than circumspect Larry Summers, was forced by to step down for doing exactly what the university’s board of directors hired him to do: stir the doddering old place up. Or perhaps he had to resign because he did it badly.
Either way, the anonymous director employs a litotes, which makes an understatement (usually negative) as a form of irony. Dag Hammarskjold was a secretary of the U.N. noted for his adroit diplomacy. Larry Summers was not.
Snappy Answer: “More like Donald Trump, we’d say.”