Honeymoon, shmoneymoon

5 Feb

Enough already with the metaphor!

I know metaphors are handy shortcuts for writers and speakers — and readers and listeners. But we’ve pretty well worn out the notion of a presidential honeymoon.

images2Jon Stewart played clips of a vast array of TV reporters and commentators the other night. Over and over, they asked, “Is the honeymoon over for Barack Obama?” and variations on that theme.

As with most metaphors, this one has its basis in reality. The notion of a president’s first weeks or months in office being a time of sweetness and light and everyone giving everyone else the benefit of the doubt has some truth to it.

But the media have about worn the honeymoon comparison to a frazzle. It’s lost its effectiveness simply by being repeated and repeated and repeated until it means nothing and has actually become a real irritant.

It’s so tempting to keep using the familiar terminology, and it’s probably doubly tempting to apply it to this president for whom the nation seems to have such high hopes and high expectations. We want to swoon in the glow of his goodness and his intelligence and his concern for us. This is a time of good feeling.

But we need a new way to talk about it or, at the very least, a way that doesn’t make people’s hair stand up on end and raise their hackles each time it’s uttered.

The honeymoon with the honeymoon metaphor is definitely over.


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