Quote: “It’s not in every political campaign that you get to watch the wife of the vice president of the United States slug it out about lesbian sex while promoting a children’s book titled “Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America.” Frank Rich, in the New York Times.
Figure of Speech: litotes (lie-TOE-tees), the figure of ironic understatement. From the Greek, meaning “meager.”
Macaca-cawing Senator George Allen of Virginia finally has a handle on Jim Webb: Allen’s Democratic opponent wrote a few great novels about the Vietnam War, with some pretty graphic scenes involving soldiers and prostitutes. For shame!
Oh, yeah? says Webb. Lynne Cheney, the vice president’s wife and a prominent Republican, wrote a lesbian scene into one of her novels. The fact that Webb isn’t running against Ms. Cheney, and that dirty books have nothing to do with the real issues, bothers these politicians not a bit.
Frank Rich sums up this literary catfight in a litotes, an ironic figure that amplifies a point by understating it. A litotes makes you look cool and sophisticated, even if you’re a nerdy Times columnist. Ms. Cheney’s appearance on CNN, defending the lez scene (actually, denying it) will certainly not be repeated in future elections. The veep isn’t running again, after all.
But Figaro certainly hopes that dirty books will become an election issue in the future. Arguing about pornography is old hat. When a campaign becomes pornography — well, now you have our attention.
Snappy Answer: “’The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve… Uh, what were we talking about?”