As any pamphlet will tell you, Halloween is an evil holiday. It’s probably the most evil holiday, with the possible exception of Secretary’s Day, and that’s why it’s so fun. For one day a year, American society permits you to gorge on sugar, trick people, and pretend to be someone you’re not. Then we return to our lives of circumspect eating and honesty. Today is Friday, and it’s almost time to pretend the monsters only come out on Halloween. Won’t you festoon yourself in gore with me?
Newt Gingrich is a hyperbolist. When he says that child labor laws are “stupid” and articulates a plan for poor children to work half the day as janitors in their own schools, it’s not the right direction for America’s future—it’s “exactly the right direction for America’s future.” Mitt Romney changing his support for individual mandates isn’t just flip-flopping; he’s adopting “radically different positions.” Radically different! Remember when Rom-bot was like, “our plans to reduce the deficit should not rest on increasing revenues” and then, six months later, he was like “abolish the money system! kill all humans!” Neither do I. As an ironist, I consider the hyperbolist a dangerous jerk, for much the same reason that certain science fiction fans will get really angry when you ask them about Star Wars. Hyperbole is irony with no referent in truth. A man who thinks everything is “profoundly” or “truly” or “actually” what it is prefers the feeling of ideas to their content. You can learn a lot about such a man from which intensifier he likes best, and for Newt Gingrich, that intensifier is “fundamentally.” Props to John for the link.