Mark Terry

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick On A Pig


September 10, 2008
Okay, today's ridiculous political mini-furor is Barack Obama commenting (not for the first time, actually, he likes the phrase and has used it quite a few times prior to the nom of Sarah Palin) that McCain's policies are "like putting lipstick on a pig."

I want to take a second to try and figure out the thought processes.

In her acceptance speech Sarah Palin tells us that "the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull is lipstick." (Are we insulting hockey moms or pitbulls here? And really, which particular image of a pitbull are we taking here? The adorable pets when raised by responsible pet owners? The murderous, vicious animals that are regularly reported in the news for mauling and maiming small children? Or, perhaps, given that this is apparently a metaphor, someone who is tenacious and won't let go, particularly, if, you know, it's your throat they happen to have hold of. Or perhaps, given the McCain advisors' unique ability to willfully misinterpret everything spoken in the English language, perhaps they are saying that hockey moms have chains around their necks, need to be licensed by the county, are useful attack dogs and can lick their balls. But no, even those of us who are liberal (liberty, liberated, tolerant and a lot of other good things, thank you, I'll define it myself) did not need to misinterpret Palin's weak joke that got really too much airtime. We GOT IT, okay?

So a week or two later, Senator Obama says McCain's policies are like "putting lipstick on a pig."

People,  usually conservatives, freaked out.

The Obama folks say, "It's a turn of phrase, there's no connection to Governor Palin."

Uh-huh. Look, Obama's a smart guy and when someone suggested it was a slip of the tongue, I thought, "Obama sure as hell doesn't make slips of the tongue." So yes, I think he intended to make the connection between Palin's really lame old joke and and an attack on how really unoriginal and pointless McCain's policies are. As a matter of fact, I think Obama, if he hadn't been using a METAPHOR (or simile or...) might have said, "McCain's policies look like George W. Bush's policies, only with make-up them so they look different. And Palin is just like him." But instead, he was trying to be colorful and folksy. (Rather than, say eloquent and articulate, or depending on which tribe you align yourself with, glib and elitist).

The McCain folks say, "That bastard, he's calling Governor Palin a pig."

Uh-huh. Perhaps they would be happier if he called her a pitbull. Or, perhaps, a bitch (ie., female pitbull).

To which I have several responses. One is: "Oh, bullshit. He wasn't calling her a pig. He was using a METAPHOR (simile, etc) to connect her joke with McCain's wishy-washy policies that resembles 8 years of George W. Bush incompetencies.

This has got to be one of the silliest things to come up in this campaign so far.

Really, okay, Governor Palin, feel free to call Obama a pitbull. Then everybody can try to parse what you meant by it.

I mean, okay, it's not just a political rant. It's really a perfect example of how politicians manipulate the English language (spin) and if you want to be a writer, it's a good idea to have some idea how your words will be interpreted by different people. Precision is good. But for God sakes...

Cheers,
Mark Terry

3 Comments:

Blogger Leigh Russell said...

Yes, politicians manipulate language. Sometimes it's just a smokescreen to conceal their paucity of ideas. There's nothing behind the words, no opinions, values or ideas, just 'clever' sounding (or not) words. I'm not sure that any one side is better/worse in this respect than the other. Same here, in the UK. We should ban 'persuasive' language by politicians. Just tell us, in plain English, what you think, guys. Fat chance!

12:33 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I find politics interesting, even fascinating, but the thing that annoys me most about it is this language spin. Sometimes it's quite subtle--which I suppose it would have been if Obama was really trying to make a connection with the lipstick comment--but most of the times it's like getting smacked in the face, like this "he called her a pig" nonsense.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

The politicians, and particularly Republicans lately, do everything possible to draw attention away from their policies.

What I find most "amusing" about the whole Palin thing is that the so-called war hero McCain started doing a lot better when he decided to start hiding behind his Veep pick's skirts.

4:02 PM  

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