August 11, 2004

Highlights of Maureen Dowd's interview on "The Daily Show"

1. She compared President Bush to Luke Skywalker who has "the good light father" who is "his own father who believed in internationalism, getting along with the allies, and leaving the end of the Iraq war where it was" and Dick Cheney who is "the dark father, Darth Vader" (whoops of approval from the audience) "who believes in bullying and unilateralism and not leaving the Iraq war where it was." I haven't seen "Star Wars" in decades, but did Darth Vader believe in unilateralism? The Empire is the other side, so ... ack! I don't know. I'm not a "Star Wars" person, but if you are, feel free to quibble with Dowd on this. (Or go take Prof. Yin's "Star Wars" quiz.)

2. Alternate description of Dick Cheney: "He's barking mad."

3. The NYT columnists have offices next to each other, which they find amusing to call "Murderers Row."

4. William Safire has a private phone that doesn't go through the switchboard, for his secret sources. Jon Stewart says it's probably for phone sex and imitates Safire calling: "1-800-DANGLINGPARTICIPLE."

5. A prompt from Stewart about Safire and grammar gets Dowd to say that she once asked him if it's right to say "war on terror" when you can't really have a war against a tactic, which doesn't seem like a grammar question or a word usage question, per se. Safire said, "Yes, you can," which Dowd thinks is pretty funny because he answered not as "a word person" but as a "conservative." I think the better usage point here is that it should be "war on terrorism," because the war is on the activity, not the result of the activity. We're not fighting against fear. But I think "war on terror" has won out because it's shorter. And there's probaby a fancy name like "metonymy" for the rhetorical device. (What do you say, rhetoric fans? Is it metonymy?)

6. "Tom Friedman is a lovely guy and when he gets very frustrated about what's going on in the Middle East, he'll come into my office, and on a very rare occasion, and go 'Let's go get a daiquiri." Stewart finds this extremely funny and says, "Makes it sound like he's a temp." Does being a temp and getting a dacquiri have the same connotation that preferring daiquiris used to have in the 1970s when Johnny Carson made daiquiri jokes?

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