Kevin McCarthy Sings The Body Electric, Twirling, Twirling, Twirling Towards Freedom!
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave the GOP prebuttal to Joe Biden's speech Thursday night, and it was pretty much exactly the festival of grievance and performatively hurt feelings you'd expect in presponse to Joe Biden's speech explaining why MAGAtroids are dangerous to the USA. He demanded that Joe Biden take back his mean mean slur that Trumpy Republicans are acting like a bunch of "semi-fascists," because how dare Biden demean the loyalty of the third of Americans who voted for Donald Trump, although McCarthy claimed it was half the country. Pretending that his own Republican House colleagues hadn't overwhelmingly voted against certifying a legitimate election, McCarthy was very very How Dare You, insisting that Biden had "chosen to divide, demean, and disparage his fellow Americans – Why? simply because they disagree with his policies."
Actually, we watched Biden's speech, and no, he didn't say people who disagree with him are dangerous. He said people who reject democracy and refuse to accept the outcome of elections they don't win are dangerous. Different things!
But nobody's going to remember anything about McCarthy's speech anyway, apart from one extremely weird line that was apparently meant to be inspiring or something:
The American experiment and the good people who believe in it have not said their last word. The electric cord of liberty still sparks in our hearts. The spirit of the Pilgrims, the Patriots and the Pioneers still inspire our souls. Our best days are ahead of us, not behind us. Our nation can flourish again and under a new historic Republican majority, it will.
The what of what, now? The electric cord of liberty still sparks in our hearts? The smoke alarm of bad metaphor has gone off in my head, so let's run McCarthy's comment through the wood chipper of rhetorical analysis.
\u201cMcCarthy: The electric cord of liberty still sparks in our hearts\u201d— Acyn (@Acyn) 1662071496
Kevin, that makes no goddamn sense. For starters, multiple people who know electrical stuff pointed out that if an electric cord is sparking, you're in a heap of trouble and your house may just burn down around you, whether it's a house divided or not.
Speaking of, apparently McCarthy's speechwriter was trying to pull off an inspiring allusion to something Abraham Lincoln said — many people don't know he was a Republican! — about the Declaration of Independence, except for the vital difference that when Lincoln said it it didn't sound like a fucked up home improvement project on Reddit.
Lincoln spoke about how all Americans were united by the Declaration — it was 1858, so he was leaving rather a lot of Americans out, but he worked on part of that later — even decades after the Founding, "as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration." The Declaration's statement that all are created equal, Lincoln said,
That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.
Now, in 1858, electric home appliances were still a good 50 years in the future, so "electric cord" would have had a far different connotation for Lincoln's audience, more in the metaphorical sense of electrifying, just as cord would have emphasized the sense that people were bound together by an invisible thread. Lincoln wasn't at all talking about what a 2022 audience would think of when they hear "electric cord." McCarthy's attempt at sounding Lincolnesque was so jolting because you can't necessarily take a phrase from the mid-19th Century and plug it in to your 2022 politics. It's just not current, so it's little surprise it met so much resistance.
[Dok now preemptively fires himself, although Rebecca may also choose to do that as well]
It's as out of place, I'm saying, as Abraham Lincoln would be in today's Republican Party.
Reddy Kilowatt can't sleep 'cause his bed's on fire.
Let me tell you, I am feeling like a first class Doktor of Rhetoric for this explanation. McCarthy and/or his speechwriter aimed for a memorable phrase, and they absolutely achieved that. Just not in the way they wanted, because taking Lincoln too literally made it sound like they were trying to kill someone by throwing an electric mixer with a frayed wire into a bathtub.
At least people had fun with it on Twitter!
\u201c@MalloryMcMorrow If we unplug the electric cord of Liberty, we must have an adaptable charger to light the freedoms of tomorrow.\u201d— Mallory McMorrow (@Mallory McMorrow) 1662073717
\u201c@brhodes @MalloryMcMorrow Kevin McCarthy keeps trying to stick a fork in the wall plug of Democracy\u201d— Mallory McMorrow (@Mallory McMorrow) 1662073717
It was also good for a few interesting results from the very literal AI I've been playing around with.
That last one is quite simply gorgeous, a 19th Century political cartoon with no actual content. We also like the middle one's attempt to — maybe? — add Ben Franklin and his kite?
In conclusion, happy Labor Day, and don't go sticking the First Amendment into any light sockets, the end!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.