The rhetoric of Orrin Hatch, the Republican U.S. Senator from the great state of Mormon, is so utterly clueless that he could almost be a Democrat.
Here’s a picture of him on the Senate floor with a poster of Thurston Howell III, the “Gilligan’s Island” millionaire. Was Hatch thanking a fictional member of the Republican base? Warning that Mr. Howell will never get off the island until Congress increases private-jet subsidies?
No, Hatch was arguing that taxpayers making more than $200,000 a year should not be mistaken for fake TV millionaires.
Oh, when will they listen to Figaro? How many times have we warned against naming the thing you’re denying? “I am not a crook.” “Don’t think I’m helping this millionaire.”
What’s more, the Thurston Howell visual undercuts the Republicans’ best anti-tax trope: “job creators.” It’s a first-class metonymy.
Figure of Speech: metonymy (meh-TON-uh-mee), a belonging trope. From the Greek, meaning “name change.”
The metonymy takes a characteristic of something and makes it represent the whole thing. Some rich folk really do create jobs. Some inherit their dough and become Bertie Wooster. By applying the “job creator” label to every rich person, Republicans make the rich seem critical to economic recovery. Oh, thank you, Mr. Job-Creating Thurston Howell III, for allowing me to serve you this coconut!
Free enterprise, and tropical labeling, at their best.