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The PJ Tatler

by
Mike McNally

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July 10, 2012 - 6:44 am

Liberals may be dead set against torturing terror suspects, but they appear to have no such qualms about torturing metaphors. Just when you thought you’d heard the last of Obama’s ‘car in the ditch’ stump speech routine, his former press secretary turned campaign advisor Robert Gibbs dragged it out of its cell, waterboarded it and pulled out its fingernails.

“When Barack Obama got the keys to the bus it was trapped in the ditch with three flat tires. We’ve changed the tires, we’ve pulled the bus out of the ditch, and we’re starting up the road to strengthening the middle class,” Gibbs said this morning.

“There’s a different theory. Mitt Romney wants to take that bus — probably a bus made in Switzerland or Bermuda – and he wants to turn that bus around, he wants to pick up some millionaires and billionaires and shower them with cash,” he said.

The most obvious evolution from the Obama version to the Gibbs version, aside from the fact that Romney is mentioned by name (although interestingly he isn’t “sucking on a slurpee”), is that the car is now a bus, which is an unfortunate modification coming from an adviser to a president who’s famous for throwing former associates who’ve become a liability, from Jeremiah Wright to his own grandmother, under just such a vehicle (I was going to mention Van Jones, but I thought introducing a Van into a post already containing a car and a bus might seem flippant). Also, in the Obama telling, the car usually had “a few dinks and dents,” but there was no mention of one flat tire, let alone three.

Gibbs takes the metaphor in a new and wonderful direction, however, when he turns his attention to Romney’s diabolical plans for the recovered vehicle. Gibbs says it was “probably” made in “Switzerland or Bermuda,” two countries associated with rich people, secret banks accounts and tax avoidance.

But this was the same bus that, Gibbs tells us, Obama and the Democrats were about to drive off in, down the “road to strengthening the middle class.” Did they have no qualms about traveling in a vehicle that was presumably made out of melted-down Nazi gold, sitting on seats upholstered with the skin of Bermudan peasants?

And while we’re on the subject of where the bus was built, didn’t Gibbs’ former boss last year embark on his ‘economic recovery tour’ of struggling heartland states in a bus made in Canada? Granted, Canada isn’t the pariah state for liberals that Switzerland or Bermuda are, but when the conversation turns to creating American jobs, it’s probably wise to leave buses out of the discussion.

You have to hand it to Gibbs, though, when he introduces the “millionaires and billionaires” into the story. While this shorthand for evil rich people has become one of Obama’s stock phrases, not even the president in his pomp would have attempted to work it into the ‘car in the ditch’ story. It’s a rhetorical feat with an extraordinarily high degree of difficulty, akin to Tiger Woods sinking a 30-yard putt while simultaneously hitting on a cocktail waitress.

I can only assume that Gibbs – a man who, during his tenure as Obama’s spokesman, earned more laughs while trying to be serious than most comedians get in a lifetime – was aiming for parody. But while it’s a fine effort, it doesn’t come close to the gold standard of Obama metaphor mockery. Take it away, Iowahawk…

Mike McNally is a journalist based in Bath, England. He posts at PJ Tatler and at his own blog Monkey Tennis, and tweets at @notoserfdom. When he's not writing about politics he writes about Photoshop.
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