Health Care Reform Metaphor Watch: is the Republican Party “a broken wheel,” “facing its Waterloo,” “Wile E. Coyote”—or something else?

With regard to health care reform, I’m grappling with a lot of metaphors for describing where I think the Republicans are at, and those metaphors are not good, so I’ll just mix them all together below. See if you can count the number of metaphors I use in the paragraph (for both Republicans and Democrats):

  • I think that what we’re hearing among Republicans is the “broken wheel screeches loudest” phenomenon. Health care reform is where Republicans, not Democrats, are about to meet their Waterloo, and the hysterical noises that Republicans are making about health care reform are a symptom of their own fast approaching defeat and political marginalization. President Barack Obama is going to get a more than halfway decent health insurance reform bill to sign, and it’s going to be enough for him to declare victory in the health insurance reform battle, and after it passes it will (like Medicare) be generally popular, especially over time. And since we’re at the tail end of a recession, and not at its beginning, by November Americans are going to be feeling at least a bit better about the direction of the country, and are unlikely to reward Republicans at the polls to the degree that they might have if congressional elections were being held right now. In other words, Republicans have peaked early and Democrats are picking up steam, reasserting their ever-increasing demographic advantage. And remember the lather that Republicans had worked themselves into on the eve of Barack Obama’s election? A lot of noise and fist pounding and hysteria, but they lost didn’t they? That’s what I think we’re seeing today. The noise and anger is a symptom of Republican frustration, not immanent victory over the Democrats with regard to health insurance reform. Nor does all the seemingly populist shouting foreshadow an electoral takeover of Congress by Republicans in late 2010. It’s just the static of a very noisy and outraged minority. Like Wile E. Coyote, the devices set by Republicans for Barack Obama’s undoing will, in fact, be chief contributors to their own.

I notice that I unconsciously used the word “noise” quite a few times in the above paragraph, so I’ll add one more bit of figurative language to this post, and put it in the form of a rhetorical question: are the Republicans showing themselves to be, like diverse and contending forms of bad weather, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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