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    And Look at the Mess the Elephants Are Making

    mp_878467_bCircus-Elephant-with-Clown-Sarasota-Florida-Posters.jpgQuote:  “All a big tent strategy seems to be doing is attracting a bunch of clowns.”  Tom McClusky, chief lobbyist for the Family Research Council, a Christianist group, in the L.A. Times.

    Figure of Speech:  literal cliché, a figure of thought that reduces an idiom to absurdity.

    The Christian right is talking about a “pink purge” of gay Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the White House.  (Pink purge, actually, is a synecdoche. Don’t we just love figurative politicians?)

    An evangelical lobbyist justifies this not-really-Stalinist policy with one of Figaro’s favorite rhetorical devices.  If you want to sound witty, do what Mr. McClusky does:  take a cliché literally.

    Opponent: Don’t pour the baby out with the bathwater.

    You: No, let’s just pull the plug.

    By responding literally to a cliche like that, you seem to agree with your opponent even while you contradict him.  It’s a kind of argument ju-jitsu.   In this case, the Christianists want to throw out grown Republicans, not babies.  But they’re still draining the tub.

    Snappy Answer:  “Maybe the problem is the ringmaster.”

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Actually Mr. Mcclusky is Catholic
    October 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTM
    An evangelical one at that (Catholics were the original evangelists). This from the group's website:

    "The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."
    October 19, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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