Frontier Former Editor

October 1, 2008

A depression is like a . . . . .

I’ve just about had it with analogies today.

For the last 24 hours, it seems that damn near every congressman and senator who can walk and chew gum at the same time, every pundit, and half the people I spend time with at work have uttered most possible variations of the phrase, “The financial crisis is like a . . . .” Just before I started typing this, I heard former Tennessee Governor and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander enlighten me by saying “The financial crisis is like a car wreck.”

Lamar, pal. The financial crisis is not like a car wreck. A car wreck involves state police, ambulances, tow trucks, body bags . . . wait, if you’re on sidewalk level in the New York financial district, maybe it is like a car wreck, but not in the way Lamar meant.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post (thanks, Sledpress!) still has my eternal admiration for dressing up like Elmer Fudd when he appeared on MSNBC’s ‘Countdown’ after the Cheney lawyer-shootin’ scandal broke. And, like me, Milbank also seems bemused if not addled at the range of analogy and metaphor emanating from Congressional mouths (or sphincters – it’s really hard to tell even on HD TV).

“The verbal misfires ricocheted across the chamber: Asleep at the switch!. . . The worm turns! . . . Russian roulette . . A financial gun to the head. . . Pull the trigger!. . .Take the bullets! . . Jumping off this precipice. . . Get our house in order.”

Not to mention the fecal sandwich analogies I’ve heard ad nauseum.

Someone at work said, “This is just like the Great Depression!”

She was 19. What the f**k does she know about the Great Depression? I’m 46, a history major and have read about the Great Depression in historical and economic contexts and I don’t know what the f**k it was like during the Great Depression. I’ve got a fair idea what it might have been like, based on stories from my grandparents, but I know some ways in which it wasn’t like the Great Depression.

  • A. Herbert Hoover was smart and had experience in humanitarian disaster and food relief after World War One.
  • B. You can’t hardly buy stocks on margin anymore, unlike 1929.
  • C. A dumbass of the astrophysical magnitude of George W. Bush hadn’t been created yet, although a megalomaniacal putz exceeding Dick Cheney’s mathematical quantification was on work release in Munich.
  • D. Al Jolson a fraction less repulsive in blackface than was Ted Danson.

Being a fundamentally mean person at heart, I joined the “It’s like a . . .” bandwagon when prompted, merrily spouting, “No, it’s like the South Sea Bubble or the Dutch tulip depression!”

There’s nothing I enjoy more than an uncomprehending look from someone half my age.

Anyway, if you have to listen to every Tom, Dick and hairless tell you what the current financial crisis is like, at least relieve yourself by this bit of creative analogy:


  1. Did I bring up Milbank first?

    I note that the Post is calling planned action on the financial meshugges “two-pronged.” and can we please throw that expression into the great Porta-Potty of weary govspeak metaphor, too? I swear to bejeezus, everything someone tries to tell me what any government agency or contractor proposes to do about something, I know I’m going to get pronged.

    Comment by sledpress — October 1, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

  2. Senor FFE

    … and what about an uncomprehending look from someone 135% of your age (certain Aquilan envious-snarling, off=stage)

    Ex America semper aliquid novi
    [From the USA, always everything bizarre]

    US revered Legislators reject Initial Shrub Package, because it’s too expensive at cost of US $700 Billion Cost

    Humbled Shrub presents Revised Package

    … accepted by US revered Legislators at cost of US $800+ Billion

    Does this reflect a US Suggestion that :

    “More is Less”

    This seems rather like the British Government’s Organization of the London Olympics

    Does anyone really kNow or Care about what the London Olympics or the Shrub Rescue Package will actually cost

    Yr obedient Servant etc

    G E

    Comment by G Eagle Esq — October 2, 2008 @ 8:04 am

  3. M. Eagle,

    All I know is that it’s a great time to start buying tulip bulbs here . . .

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — October 2, 2008 @ 8:35 am

  4. What is eerie to me is the ads on television all still running for allegedly crashed out companies. On one hand the news is screaming the company names and disaster, on the other, bright shiny ads keep playing non-stop for AIG. Kind of creepy.

    Comment by max — October 2, 2008 @ 4:33 pm

  5. Yeah, that Wachovia seems like such a nice community-friendly bank . . . .

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — October 2, 2008 @ 10:11 pm

  6. I wish I had written that!

    Comment by Donn — October 3, 2008 @ 10:58 am

  7. @FFE
    Bows head in awe at Dutch Tulip reference. I’ve been making stuff up. Every time I hear the term “Great Depression” I counter with stuff like “The Entirely Unsuitable Worsted Glut of 1912” (which was the real cause of the Great War, y’know).

    Eerie isn’t it? The brain dies, the corpse twitches merrily away …

    What I find really interesting is that the $700 billion figure is apparently drawn from Paulson’s bowels. It’s an estimate, a speculation … dare we say it, a guess, at what it’ll take to make things right and get the Bush Pioneers lining their pockets again.

    I mean, why not two hundred and forty-six googadjillion dollars? I bet that’d fix everything!

    No, I mean everything–global warming would stop dead, cars would run on used tissues, models and superstars would have reasoned personas and tempraments, and swoon over average-looking people of modest means; and you could always find the end of the sellotape.

    Cheap at the price, yeah?

    Comment by Metro — October 3, 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  8. You did, Sled, you did . . .

    You will, Donn, you will . . .

    Metro: One of the advantages of a history degree is being able to toss out relevant obscurities. You should have heard me railing on about the War of Jenkins’ Ear back in 2003 . . .

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — October 3, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  9. Oh! Florence King always dragged in the War of Jenkins’ Ear!

    She regularly pisses me off with her “too refined for everyone” posture, but to paraphrase what Auden said of Yeats, I always pardon her for writing well.

    Comment by sledpress — October 3, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  10. The way I saw the dog & pony show last night
    (you know the so-called debate)

    DEMOCRATS Joe Biden
    Grade B-
    The ‘Human Gaffe Machine’ managed to somehow control his piehole and not orate ad infinitum and put us all into a somnambulistic stupor.. Joe was very poised and statesmanly.

    He did not mention his remark that FDR went on TV back in ’29 to calm the Nation’s nerves…
    which is fortunate since FDR hadn’t been elected yet and TV wasn’t invented.

    REPUBLICANS Tina Fey..I mean Palin
    Grade C+
    Caribou Barbie brought her colloquiallistic charm offensive and didn’t mention being able to see Russia from her house but she still comes across like your Grade One Teacher…
    and she probably was your favorite.

    She had way more at stake and proved that she would make a fine Minister of the Interior once they killed off all of those pesky wolves so that the Oil Workers could start drilling.
    But President, Hell, oops I mean Heck NO!

    Comment by Donn — October 3, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  11. Qvestions, Qvestions

    Interesting Scores – do they reveal that Donn is a Democrat ?

    AND what about the Polar Bears under a Lapin Presidency ???

    Comment by G Eagle Esq — October 3, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  12. Hey! My grade one teacher was mean as sin and not much to look at but she could complete a sentence.

    Comment by max — October 3, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  13. Max… speaking of complete sentences:
    “Diagramming Sarah: Can Palin’s sentences stand up to a grammarian?”
    The diagrams remind me of those stories about the webs of drugged spiders…

    Comment by sledpress — October 3, 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  14. My fifth grade teacher was related distantly by marriage to Count von Stauffenberg, the man who failed to kill Hitler.

    She was meaner than an outhouse rat, and I should have punched her in that doughy face for her relative’s incompetence.

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — October 3, 2008 @ 11:22 pm

  15. Sled I am laughing way harder than I should be. Thank you for that.

    [Also I am praying hard I fall into the “the mind that created the sentence is a richly educated one — with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression” camp.]

    Comment by max — October 4, 2008 @ 12:08 am

  16. What’s really eerie is the movie Wall Street came on last night after I’d been trying to catch it forever. Apropos.

    Comment by Stiletto — October 5, 2008 @ 9:59 pm

  17. Like Mike D. said, “Greed is good . . .”

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — October 5, 2008 @ 10:02 pm

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