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I read this Politico article, and it has this quote:

Marcos reached Laxalt by phone on the Hill, proposing a power-sharing coalition with Aquino, and trying to suss out whether Reagan really wanted him to step down. Laxalt said he’d check with the president, and, when the Nevada senator phoned the presidential palace in Manila two hours later without a definitive answer, Marcos, exhausted and frail, asked Laxalt for his personal advice. “Cut and cut cleanly. The time has come,” Laxalt famously answered...

The word 'cut' has a lot of meanings, but none of them seems to fit. What does 'cut' mean in the sentence?

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Literally a "clean cut" is the type made with a sharp knife used quickly. The edges of the cut are smooth and flat.

This is metaphorical use. Metaphorically a clean cut is a complete and rapid separation. For example

I decided on a clean cut when I left my old company. I deleted all the old files from my computer and all my old colleague's email addresses. I walked out on a Friday and never went back.

In this particular context, it seems that the diplomat is recommending that Marcos should have a "clean cut" from Philippines politics. Marcos took the advice and left the next day on a plane to the USA.

It might also be influenced by the figure of speech "cut and run" meaning "grab what you can and get out".

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  • What's confusing is that he said it the way that suggests that one of the meanings of the word 'cut' is "leave" which is not the case, based on my dictionary look-through Mar 16, 2020 at 21:44
  • That is what I mean by "influence by "cut and run"".
    – James K
    Mar 16, 2020 at 21:47

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