being literal

A: Last night, B said that our candidate has been “seduced by the Calypso of the insurance industry.” We think that B should apologize for this ridiculous and unsubstantiated attack on our candidate.
B: What are you talking about?
A: We have never liked Calypso.
B: It’s a metaphor!
A: Sure doesn’t sound like plain English to me.
B: You’re kidding me. Didn’t you read The Odyssey? Calypso keeps Odysseus prisoner…
A: Are you saying we have imprisoned the insurance industry?
B: What? No! I mean, it’s a literary allusion.
A: My fellow Americans, it is clear that B’s “literary aspirations” are growing out of control and that he is out of touch with real Americans. We want straight talk, and that is what our candidate will bring to you.

The mendacity of politicians who willfully misconstrue and misquote others must appeal to some people. It kind of reminds me of those who walk around talking about how the Bible is the literal word of God. They think words should mean what they say, and there shouldn’t be any “interpreting” going on. Perhaps that’s why you get a lot of “person on the street” interviews in which someone says “I like candidate A, since they seem so straightforward.” Perhaps that’s why we have possibly the dumbest President in the history of the country. “Straight talk” can come from all sorts, but the smart ones still use subtext.

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