Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't Be So Idiomatic

In 2005 and 2006 I put quite a bit of energy into slamming former White House press secretary Scottie-Scott McClellan. I saw him as a mushy marshmallow of a man whose career hinged on his ability to repeat whatever lies he was fed. And in regard to McClellan's capacity as the president's mouthpiece, I think that was an accurate assessment, "marshmallow" and all. Now, more than two years after his resignation from that post, McClellan has once again exploded onto the political scene with What Happened, his "oh no you di-int" account of the Bush Administration's misbehavior.

I'm not sure how interesting a book whose thesis is "Get this, the Iraq War is built on lies!" could possibly be, but I'm ready to read this book and let Scott McClellan redeem himself in full for all the times I cussed at his image on TV and drew goofy facial hair on his image in the newspaper.

Not everyone is as supportive, however, of McClellan's attempt to turn over a new leaf. Former White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy had this colorful comment about McClellan:

"Here's a guy who rode the president's coattails to the world stage and now is [urinating] on his political grave, all the way to the bank."

Now ignore, for a moment, the fact that the press secretary's job is to stand on the "world stage" in lieu of the president. Ignore the fact that riding the president's coattails is an inevitable side-effect of lying on his behalf. And ignore the fact that "deputy press secretary" sounds like a made-up title you'd bestow on a little girl on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Ignore all that and take a good look at Duffy's maelstrom of idioms. You've got coattails, a stage, a grave and a bank, all in the same sentence! How exactly does one [urinate] to the bank, anyway? If you're [micturating] on a grave (even if it's a political grave), while simultaneously going to the bank, doesn't that make it pretty tough to hit your target?

Maybe I've misunderstood. Maybe McClellan is laughing so hard all the way to the bank, that he's started [whizzing] involuntarily. That happens sometimes, even to grown men.

I hope Trent Duffy writes a book, too. And I hope the whole book reads like that quote.

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