Thursday, September 13, 2007

The metaphor will not hold

Bob Sommerby puts his keyboarding finger on why Maureen Dowd belongs in just about any section of the New York Times other than the op/ed page.
Is Maureen Dowd a “progressive” columnist? We can’t imagine why we’d say that. We’ve read her carefully over the years, and it seems to us that she rarely expresses an actual view on any political or policy matter. Instead, she dithers and dallies on matters of trivia, voicing a range of utterly pointless and utterly predictable observations. And she’s largely an equal opportunity fool; she has criticized Gore’s bald spot and Giuliani’s comb-over alike. In short, Dowd isn’t progressive, or centrist, or conservative. More than anything, Dowd is a non-political throwback. She captures the fatuous world of the 50’s “women’s page,” in which the writer was allowed to opine about the hats at the recent parade. She rages out from this small, stupid world, but it’s the world she’s selected. [emph added]
And to Gore’s bald spot and Giuliani’s comb-over, we can now add the Petraeus girdle.
It’s obvious that the Surge is like those girdles the secretaries wear on the vintage advertising show, “Mad Men.” It just pushes the fat around, giving a momentary illusion of flatness. But once Peaches Petraeus, as he was known growing up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, takes the girdle off, the center will not hold.
What the hell? No, it is not obvious that the Surge is like those girdles. The metaphor does not work in so many different ways one could draw up a Top Ten list. My first entry: girdles are about compression, surges are about expansion.

Obviously, the hip MoDo was laboring mightily to work in a current pop culture reference (“Mad Men”) while the educated MoDo was falling back on a classic but overused literary allusion (Yeats’ Slouching Towards Bethlehem). As usual, it was at the expense of her column’s coherence and what little is left of my sanity.

Once Dowd opted for “Mad Men,” she was stuck with the girdle imagery, and apparently no editor dare touches MoDo copy. But the rest of us know which garment is most appropriate for a surge metaphor. Okay, if I have to spell it out: c-o-d-p-i-e-c-e.

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