I assume that you have already seen this wonderful video, in which Chris Matthews interviews Rick “Gather Your Armies” Barber on Hardball. Not surprisingly, Matthews was concerned with some of the content in Barber’s recent campaign advertisements, particularly his claim that the IRS can raise taxes “without representation” and the exhortation, delivered by an actor playing George Washington, to “gather your armies.” To deflect this line of questioning, Barber deployed the classic defense of the person caught saying absurd things for attention: I was speaking metaphorically. To which Matthews replies, “Are you a metaphor? Are you a metaphor [for] a guy running for office, or are you a real candidate?” It’s not called Funball, pussies. Matthews makes a point as salient as it is rare: words mean something, and while their figurative meaning is important, their literal meaning counts, too. This Friday’s link roundup features a lot of people saying a lot of absurd and/or false things in the name of some larger, vaguer meaning. It’s the shield of metaphor, less politely known as lying, and it’s as beaten and bright-shining as ever.
It’s been a bonanza week for news commentators, with earthquakes, tell-all books, people saying “negro” two years ago—everything that makes a vibrant political discourse thrive. The big news, though, was that a certain someone jumped from national electoral politics to the big show: cable news commentating. When Bill O’Reilly welcomed Sarah Palin to Fox News, he told her that she had acquired a powerful tool, a bigger megaphone that she could at last use to shout back at her critics. The implication was that being a Fox commentator was a position of greater power than being governor of Alaska. And was he wrong? Sarah Palin is more popular now than she was when she had the full might of the Republican Party behind her. Rush Limbaugh has outlasted the Contract With America, three Presidents and presumably dozens of minor coronaries. And Glenn Beck can’t think. Powerful men all, and it’s hard to argue that they wield less influence over the American people than do Pelosi, Boehner and Reid. Perhaps that is as it should be. I, for one, welcome our new and increasingly bloated masters, and urge them to form a new government of Real Americans and questionable analogies to Hitler just as soon as they can. Won’t you join me in considering the beautiful world they’re creating? No? Okay, back to cat videos, then. I’ll see the rest of you after the jump.