Words and metaphors have become the weapon of choice in the debt ceiling/Obamacare debate — well, second to shutting down the government. For example, during a recent press conference President Obama said the shutdown is kind of like if you worked in a plant and said "if I don't get a raise and more vacation time I'm going to shut this place down." Jon Stewart replied, "I'm pretty sure you just described a union strike." The basic gist of it was clear though — you can't punish everyone when you don't get what you want.
Not to be left out, Republican Senator Tom Coburn compared the country's debt to a credit card. He then asked the floor for unanimous consent to use scissors to cut the card up. "That is the best evidence yet that our Congress functions at a kindergarten level," Stewart said. "Also I'm pretty sure cutting up the country's credit card doesn't make the debt go away."
But the real winner the metaphor battle is Republican Senator Mike Lee, who compared spending in Congress to going to the grocery store. But in this case, Lee only wants to buy bread, milk and eggs, but is being forced to buy/vote for a book about cowboy poetry, Barry Manilow albums, and a half ton of iron ore. "Oh, I get it. You're saying some people in Congress are being forced to pay for some stuff they don't want, and that's not fair. But unfortunately that's called being in a country with some people who aren't exactly you," Stewart explained. Then he gave his own interpretation of the grocery store metaphor:
So let's talk about what's really happening at that store. Everybody chipped in and gave you money to go to the store to buy milk, bread and eggs. And then you decided on your own, 'You know what? I don't even like fucking eggs. Eggs are a communist menace turning our country Muslim, so I'm just going to buy milk and bread.' And everybody else is like 'We passed a law that said you'd buy milk, bread and eggs. And the Supreme Court upheld that shopping list.' And that's when you burned the fucking store down.
This is, of course, just a metaphor. No one has actually set D.C. on fire, yet.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.