Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Did He Really Say That?

A word to the wise: A World War II era poster
provides a history lesson for today's candidates.

Wait a minute.

Did Sen. Barack Obama really say that? As they say in TV sports...Let's go to the tape!

From Ben Smith's blog over at POLITICO.COM:

Obama: 'Lipstick on a pig'

Amie Parnes reports from Lebanon, VA:

Obama poked fun of McCain and Palin's new "change" mantra.

"You can put lipstick on a pig," he said as the crowd cheered. "It's still a pig."

"You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still gonna stink."

"We've had enough of the same old thing."

The crowd apparently took the "lipstick" line as a reference to Palin, who described the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull in a single word: "lipstick."

UPDATE: The McCain campaign is now saying Obama called Palin a pig, which he didn't. The Obama campaign notes that "lipstick on a pig" is a fairly common idiom Obama often uses, as in a recent Washington Post interview. McCain has also used the phrase.

Though on a day when Obama's surrogates were joking that Palin's record can't be concealed with lipstick, it was hard for those following the campaign not to hear the echo.

UPDATE: Obama aide Anita Dunn responds to the McCain campaign's claim that Obama compared Palin to a pig:

Enough is enough. The McCain campaign’s attack tonight is a pathetic attempt to play the gender card about the use of a common analogy – the same analogy that Senator McCain himself used about Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care plan just last year. This phony lecture on gender sensitivity is the height of cynicism and lays bare the increasingly dishonorable campaign John McCain has chosen to run.

Well, it's all there for you to judge.

Victor Davis Hanson over at National Review Online's "The Corner" took this view of it:

Was McCain the stinky old fish?

In all the furor over the Obama "pig" quote, commentators forgot to examine his entire attack:

"You can put lipstick on a pig. "It's still a pig."

"You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still gonna stink."

When read in the entire context you can see what he seems to mean with his dual animate male/female references and why he probably evoked two metaphors: most would think that Obama is talking about both on the ticket and his anger how each has expropriated his change motif.

So in that sense he appears both to insult the 72-year old McCain as the "old fish" that is still going to "stink", and to refer to Palin, who had famously evoked the metaphor of lipstick in a nationally televised address, as still the pig despite the lipstick.

The fact that he used two metaphors to attack the two, and used expressions referring both to age and Palin's recent use of "lipstick" don't seem to be accidents and that's why the cooing crowd got the old fish=McCain;lipsticked pig=Palin immediately.

I'll leave it to others to deconstruct the historical use of pig as a sexist term in the recent climate of generic attacks on Sarah Palin.

PS. The VP nominee was just announced and already Biden has called her "good looking" and now “a step back for women”; most know what he intended, but like most Bidenisms they come out wrongly and confirm a popular perception that he suffers from logorhhea and that there is a different standard of reference applied to Palin due to her sex.

Someone in the campaign has got to manage the ex tempore carelessness.

These are the days when you have to watch what you say.

Extra: Tomorrow I'll run a poll asking how long it will be before we're already tired of the campaigns...

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