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    Johnny, McCain, Please Report to the Principal

    mccain-principal.jpgQuote:  “I will always believe that there is a Mr. Ravenel somewhere for every child who needs him.” John McCain, speaking to his alma mater, the Episcopal School in Alexandria, Virginia

    Figure of Speech: antonomasia (an-to-no-MAY-sia), the namer. From the Greek, meaning “other name.”

    While Obama’s minister continues to haunt him, and Clinton channels Rocky, Senator McCain does an early victory lap around his angry boyhood.  In a speech to his old high school, McCain recalls his English teacher, a WWII war vet and football coach.

    Offer merit increases, McCain implies, and Mr. Ravenels will be springing up all over the place — a fine antonomasia that makes his personal story universal and politically relevant. The antonomasia uses a person’s name to describe a set of traits, and it serves as a rhetorical incubator for eponyms.

    “He helped teach me to be a man,” McCain says. You rarely hear that phrase from a Democrat — either because it’s sexist or because no Democratic male was ever initiated into the manly mysteries.

    Figaro is an independent, but he counts himself among the machismoally agnostic. Then again, you’ll never find him running for president. Even as a woman.

    Snappy Answer: “Please don’t propose a No Mr. Ravenel Left Behind Act.”

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    Reader Comments (2)

    What if Hillary had paid tribute to a High School instructor who had "helped teach her to be a woman"?

    It shows you that indeed our language still exhibits a bias, so to speak, as "manhood" generally equates with maturity or inner strength while "womanhood" generally equates with sexual maturity or maternal traits (again - in the sense of cultural verbal associations, not as a reflection of mental of biological reality).

    April 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHoward
    Yes, the connotation of "teaching me to be a woman" would be far different. And a lot more fun.

    April 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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