Updated at 3:07 p.m.: Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn said on MSNBC Tuesday he had a problem with Mitt Romney and Bain Capital "raping companies and leaving them in debt," a poorly selected metaphor that even his friends (including the Obama campaign itself) don't much like. In context his quote read (via Talking Points Memo):
"This is not an attack on free enterprise. I want say to you, I don’t take contributions from payday lenders. I refuse to do that. That’s free enterprise. But there’s something about that enterprise that I have a problem with. And there’s something about raping companies and leaving them in debt and setting up Swiss bank accounts and corporate businesses in the Grand Caymans. I have a serious problem with that.
It seems like he could have been going for the archaic but still occasionally used definition of rape that means "pillaging" -- this is how its meant when one "rapes" the countryside. (Update: His spokesperson's follow-up statement suggests just that.) But context isn't really so valued in the current Twitter-ized news cycle, so everyone's going to assume he meant the definition listed first in the dictionary.
Feminist organizer Shelby Knox has already directed a Tweet at Clyburn to say, "Stop saying Bain 'rapes' companies. Rape is rape [and] applying it to situations outside sexual assault demeans the seriousness." And the Obama campaign's statement reads, "We strongly disagree with Congressman Clyburn’s choice of words- they have no place in this conversation." We assume the debate will shortly return to the actual business practices Bain engaged in and whether they're grounds for political attack -- it's one that's been raging since Obama's latest ad made it an issue -- but not before Rep. Clyburn learns a little lesson in the terribly chosen metaphor. Stick to the "vampire" line Obama gave you.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.