08 December 2010

Worst Metaphor Ever

Does this make sense?

More than ever, America today reminds me of a working couple where the husband
has just lost his job, they have two kids in junior high school, a mortgage and
they’re maxed out on their credit cards. On top of it all, they recently agreed
to take in their troubled cousin, Kabul, who just can’t get his act together and
keeps bouncing from relative to relative. Meanwhile, their Indian nanny, who
traded room and board for baby-sitting, just got accepted to M.I.T. on a full
scholarship and will be leaving them in a few months. What to do?

Does it make sense when a robotic voice reads it?

No, of course it doesn't.

And from what fountain of crapulence did this odious (and just terribly constructed) metaphor crawl? Thomas Friedman's, of course. The same guy who gave us:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a
reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have
great advantages.

I really appreciate Jonah Goldberg's analysis:

Great stuff. But I wonder: What about the maladjusted Saudi exchange student who seems to be stalking your daughter when he’s not hanging out at Hooters reading the Anarchist’s Cookbook? And did you forget the Mexican guy who works twice as hard as the husband for half the pay? And what about the old Japanese lady who rents the garage apartment who hoards her cash? And shouldn’t the wife be worried about the Polish applicant for the nanny job who looks like she could be an underwear model in search of a husband/green card?

What I really like about this, however, is that absolutely ludicrous intro to the paragraph:

More than ever, America today reminds me of a working couple…

Really? More than ever? So America today reminds you of this couple with their Indian nanny and Afghani cousin more than it did in the Spring of ‘06? Good Lord we do have problems!

By the way, you’ve been carrying this metaphor in your head for how long now, exactly? Has it been driving your understanding of geo-politics for years? Decades? Talk more about that.

Anyway, he then goes on to make the usual point: Rah-rah China. Investment, education, whaoo. Politics bad. Problem solving good.

I know there are lots of people who really think Friedman’s a genius. That’s a debate for another day. What I don’t understand, purely as a matter of column-writing, is how he can get away saying the same thing over and over again and over again. Even if you agree with everything he’s got to say, I don’t understand how he doesn’t bore his fans to death. At least his critics can have fun whacking away at him.

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