Saturday, March 7, 2009

Metaphor doesn't get better than this

"Gordon Brown was hoping for a little more than: “I feel your pain. And have you ever seen The Wizard of Oz? It’s about this sweet little nobody who gets to pay a brief visit to the glittering Emerald City before being swept back to the reassuring familiarity of the poor thing’s broken-down windswept economically devastated monochrome dustbowl. You’ll love it!”

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”? Oh, perish the thought. The prime minister flew 8,000 miles for dinner and a movie. But the president says he’ll call. Next week. Next month. Whatever."

You'll never see a more bitingly true metaphor than the one in the first paragraph above. It's Mark Steyn's imagining of the way President Barack Obama presented his recent gift to Gordon Brown when the British Prime Minister visited our national valley boy, the great Oz himself, behind the curtain down at the White House last week. On a whole lot of levels Steyn has it exactly right.

The second paragraph is a bit more abstruse. Steyn is again at his very best there, putting Rhett Butler's words in Barry's mind as he sees the Prime Minister off. Perhaps you can figure it out if you read the whole of Steyn's latest and perhaps greatest piece here:

Read the whole thing. Percy Bysshe Shelley himself couldn't have done better even though he did provide a metaphor for the eventual world reaction to Barry and the works of his Mighty Hand in his poem Ozymandias, written almost two hundred years ago, the work that inspired Frank Baum to conceive of The Emerald City, The Curtain, Dorothy, Toto and all the rest.

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

All of us over forty or so years old remember those boring classes where English teachers made a big thing about the similes and metaphors in the poems and novels written by all those dead old white guys like Shelley. Some of that stayed with me, so I always like to come across a good metaphor, just as I love the current smell of our European allies being napalmed in the morning by The One down in Washington who they thought was the answer to all their prayers, back before he was elected and consecrated as the anointed one and maximum leader of the free world.

Few things in life are quite so satisfying as seeing people get exactly what they ask for and thus richly deserve. It's one of the consolations of growing old.

For, as the old proverb goes. "If you sit by the river long enough you will see the bodies of all your enemies float past."

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