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  • Richard Farr

Metaphors be with you

Today, in an opinion-piece that cooks up a whole laundry-list of complaints about the festering train crash that is the feral GOP...

Let me start again.

Michelle Cottle is a member of the NYT Editorial Board. In "The Nation Needs a Reality-Based G.O.P. Only the Kook Caucus Is Stepping Up," she makes the worthwhile if no longer quite original point that the Republican Party is now essentially a cult - a little piece of North Korea, complete with a Daddy-substitute so painfully ludicrous that one of the great fears must be thinking of his hair at the wrong moment and letting out the giggle that will be your death-sentence.

But what I'm interested in, here, is the death of style. The piece offers several decisions about usage that will make your hair ache and your teeth stand on edge, but surely none better than this:

Elections tend to reflect the political zeitgeist. Some coalesce around a hot policy topic: health care, immigration, jobs, crime. Others are fueled by bigger, broader themes: reforming democracy, reining in Big Government, healing partisan divisions, reviving the American dream.

Metaphors are supposed to provide us with a vivid picture by comparing one thing with another. But here we have three metaphors for the same thing, in three sentences - or six, depending on how you count them. The image this produces, in my mind anyway, is as colorful and vivid as a Jackson Pollock.

According to Sy Necdoche, a recently-retired NYT copy editor,

I was glad to leave all that behind, frankly. Working at the cutting edge of modern journalism has persuaded me that expecting writers to make sense is as old-fashioned and overrated as putting all your cats in one molehill.

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