Nominees for the Fascist Octopus Award

by Henry Farrell on December 20, 2007

Via “Duncan Black”:, Mark Halperin comes up with a “doozy of a metaphor”:

Why is Drudge highlighting the McCain story, but has not touched other political hot potatoes that are swirling in the ether?

Those potatoes, turning this way and that as eddies and currents in the aether pull at them, heated to the boiling point by its luminiferous qualities. It’s almost as good as David Brooks’ famous “depiction”: of the Kossacks as squadrons of rabid, venom-unleashing command-lambs. Any other nominations for the most hilariously mangled metaphors and bad political writing of 2007? Halperin sets a high standard, but there must be other competitors out there …



Bloix 12.20.07 at 10:08 pm

Potatoes in ether is the traditional Polish preparation.


Grand Moff Texan 12.20.07 at 10:50 pm

Well, Drudge accidentally put up a blowjob pic on his site instead of an advertisement, but I don’t think that’s a metaphor.


elbujo 12.20.07 at 10:57 pm

Wait. This isn’t Mark Halperin who wrote A Solider of the Great War? That was actually a very good book. His later books were entirely ruined by crazy insertions of right wing politics into the story in ways that absolutely destroyed the narrative. His stories suddenly became illustrations for right wing polemics. Which was too bad, since he had the makings of a great writer.

Anyway, maybe it is another Mark Halperin and this is just an absurd digression. Sad thing about the other Mark Halperin, though.

OK, what the hell I’ll degress more and ask a question I constantly wonder about–How can so many smart people be so stupid? I mean, you have to admit that some of these people are intelligent in certain ways. What are they lacking? It’s not intelligence, per se. A certain kind of intelligence?


elbujo 12.20.07 at 10:57 pm

Um, that’s digress. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn about typos but CT brings out that kind of thing in people.


JakeB 12.20.07 at 11:15 pm

You’re referring to Mark Helprin.
What’s funny is that Helprin might actually write about hot potatoes swirling in the ether, but he’d be pretty clearly playing with the metaphor to see just how weird and absurd he could make it.


jim 12.20.07 at 11:52 pm

Actually, I like the idea of highlighting hot potatoes (as they swirl past). I’m not sure whether one would use a yellow marker or hairdye, though.


john in california 12.21.07 at 12:55 am

He was only mixaphoricly speaking!


Hattie 12.21.07 at 1:08 am

These are virtual potatoes. Pundits eat them.


lemuel pitkin 12.21.07 at 1:16 am

I like the idea of highlighting hot potatoes (as they swirl past). I’m not sure whether one would use a yellow marker or hairdye, though.

Someone should come with a Flash game based on this. It would surely amuse Eszter.


Down and Out of Sài Gòn 12.21.07 at 2:01 am

I don’t know if you would want really hot potatoes swirling in the ether. Ether’s pretty flammable.


Delicious Pundit 12.21.07 at 2:02 am

Why hasn’t he touched the hot potatoes? Because once burned, cut twice. Obviously.


JP Stormcrow 12.21.07 at 3:34 am

Michelson and Morley wept.


JP Stormcrow 12.21.07 at 6:00 am

I thought it would be easy to come up with competition, but am striking out. Closest I have is another one by Halperin on Hillary Clinton at her “bad” debate.

“She fell off the tough-shrill balance beam onto the ‘shrill’ side — with a THUD,”

Maybe he should have had her fall off with a screech (or a cackle at least). It succinctly encapsulates the kind of lame-ass narrative associated with Halperinian Horseracism.


Dan Kervick 12.21.07 at 1:01 pm

Following up on JP Stormcrow, maybe the negative results from attempts to detect the aether wind experimentally all come down to the failure to use measuring devices made out of spuds.


nnyhav 12.21.07 at 1:17 pm

Probably has something to do with whirled peas.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The whisker cannot hear the whiskerer;
Things mash together; the starches cannot hold;
More brown gravy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The vegetables of innocence are drowned;
The best lack all nutrition, while the worst
Are full of flatulent intensity.


rea 12.21.07 at 2:13 pm

Any other nominations for the most hilariously mangled metaphors and bad political writing of 2007?

Mitt Romney, tying to explain his claim that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King:

You know, I’m an English literature major as well. When we say, ‘I saw the Patriots win the World Series,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean you were there


Steve Kyle 12.21.07 at 6:49 pm

Well this may be a bit off the topic but not entirely – My favorite question of the year was in response to news that Britney Spears’ 16 year old sister is pregnant:

“How could this have happened?”

Anyone care to hazard a guess?


Shelby 12.22.07 at 10:01 pm

“How could this have happened?”

The power of ethereal hot potatoes passeth all understanding.


Misternicguy1960 12.23.07 at 5:11 am

Oh, Shelby, that’s just nasty. The image of that poor girl sufering the acute discomfort of inserting a large, rough, lumpy potato — a hot one, no less — into precincts where no vegetable has any business being (or if you must, surely a zucchini would be better), is quite distressing. Shame on you for conjuring it. I may have developed a new fetish, and if I have, I’ll be billing you for the psychiatrist and call girl expenses.

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