Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Congressman Cohen's Classic Blunder

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 11:29 AM

As the debt deal was going down, Congressman Steve Cohen, as reported by Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, stated that "It's a Trojan Horse with Scylla and Charybdis inside!"

Exclamation mark is right! Sarah Palin (Paul Revere's Ride) and Michelle Bachmann (Pilgrim's Landing) aren't the only ones who need a history lesson. This metaphor is as hopelessly fouled up as the debt deal itself. As us Americans who studied the works of Cream ("Tales of Brave Ulysses") and Homer (CliffsNotes) know, this is not at all how it went down on the Plains of Troy in 1200 B.C., just five millennia after the world was invented by God.

Steve Cohen may be, along with George Will, Washington's foremost authority on Minnie Minoso and ballplayers of the Fifties. Steve is the guy I'd bet on in Jeopardy if the category was "Tennessee Politics For $1,000" or "Songs of the Sixties for Final Jeopardy."

But when it comes to the Trojans, he has made a classic (get it?) goof, or gaffe as we reporters say. Better that he should have said the debt deal was "a Liberty Bowl Stadium with Vanderbilt and University of Memphis inside!" or "a voting booth with Ford and Herenton inside!"

The Trojan Horse, said by Homer to be "impregnable" and hence the trade name of the popular prophylactic, was filled not with Scylla and Charybdis but with scores of sweaty, foul-smelling, heavily armed, and bad-tempered Greeks — sort of like some members of Congress. The unsuspecting Trojans pulled the thing into their walled city, and the rest is history.

The godly Athena hatched the plan, along with Odysseus, setting up the famous battle between the Trojans and their star quarterback Hector (Kirk Douglass) and the Greeks and their talented but injury-prone quarterback Achilles (Brad Pitt).

To make a long story short, the Greeks carried the day and, following a period of rape and pillage, boarded their boats to sail home. It was on this voyage, or "Odyssey" as the ancients called it, that Odysseus encountered Scylla and Charybdis, six-headed monsters who were nowhere near the Plains of Troy during the big game and were much too water-loving, large, and cranky to fit inside a wooden horse.

So there, congressman. For further information, see Barbara Tuchman's "The March of Folly" or James Joyce's "Ulysses" or Steely Dan's "Home At Last."


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