02/01/2006: Thought for the Day:
Nevertheless, I've been impressed all over again the past couple weeks with the Republicans' skill at political stone soup—making something out of nothing. In this case it's a remark by Hillary Clinton comparing Congress to a plantation. Near as I can tell, the alleged objection to "plantation" is—by analogy to the Holocaust—that any metaphorical use of the word is an insult to the real slaves and their descendants. This particular stone soup would be overheated even if the ingredients were fresh and sincere. But the fuss is obviously cynical, coming as it does from people (talk-radio jockeys, the editors of the Wall Street Journal—you know the type) who usually stalk the microphones in order to denounce excessive sensitivity and its smothering effect on political debate.
What's especially impressive is how the get-Hillary campaign was not even slowed by the discovery that Newt Gingrich had used the same metaphor back when he was somebody. A hilarious op-ed this week in the Wall Street Journal explained that while Hillary's remark was "pandering" and patronizing ("Must blacks have their slave past rubbed in their face … ?"), Gingrich "had the good taste to cast himself as a slave who would 'lead the slave rebellion.'" Well, each to his own good taste, I suppose.
But that metaphor of a corrupt plantation seemed more familiar than just one of Newt's old ravings. And indeed the Wall Street Journal editorial page has used it more than once. In 2001, for example, the man who now runs that page, Paul Gigot, wrote (in reference to Sen. Joe Lieberman) about "how…the black liberal establishment can punish a Democrat who strays from their plantation." The previous year, an editorial about the Massachusetts congressional delegation actually carried the headline "The Liberal Plantation."
And then (just to show what a little Googling can do), there was a small 2001 item in the Wall Street Journal's news section about Vice President Cheney spending the weekend shooting quails at the "plantation" of a rich Republican contributor. Hillary Clinton uses the word "plantation" while Dick Cheney actually goes to one. But that's the Democrats for you: all talk and no action.
Len on 02.01.06 @ 06:59 AM CST