I Agree With the Underlying Political Point, But....

... maybe another way to illustrate it? Mike Luckovich's cartoon for today:


In Luckovich's defense, most of the time political cartoonists, like political speakers, are working with the stock array of images/concepts already in people's minds. Only the best -- cartoonists or speakers -- in their best moments introduce new images that really stick. You can't expect that from anyone, in any field, on a daily basis.

On how Paul Krugman might have altered this cartoon, here; for the special circumstance in which the boiled-frog metaphor is true, here; for why boiled frogs are like WWE-style pro wrestlers, here; from Wikipedia, here. Complete boiled-frog collection here.

CNN/Fortune lapsing in the same way, here. Interesting discussions of how and whether to use an image you know is not literally true -- like "ostrich with its head in the sand" or "camel's nose under the tent" -- but that gets a point across, here (from Mark Liberman of Language Log) and here (from Kevin Drum of Mother Jones) and here (from Joe Romm of Climate Progress).

A reader in England writes with a suggestion for a substitute image that is more factually defensible. (Hint: based on the unforgettable opening scene of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love. If you've read the book, you know the image.) More on that soon -- plus! a reader's nominee for the next most inaccurate and overused rhetorical image.  Coming soon. For now, the main point of Luckovich's cartoon is right. Thanks to reader J.S.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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