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Labrador was alluding to the well-known story about bank robber Willie Sutton: When asked why he robbed banks, Sutton is supposed to have replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Labrador was suggesting Democrats will not be content to tax the richest 2 percent of Americans, because they do not have enough money to fund everything Democrats want — so Democrats will go where the money is, and tax everybody. Within a picosecond, this became “Labrador Compares Democrats to Bank Robbers!” which really meant: “Watch This Republican Jerk says Democrats Like You Are Criminals. Grrr!”
Politics, wrote Orwell in “Politics and the English Language,” is “a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia,” and the decline of language “must ultimately have political . . . causes.” It would be too much to say politics today is killing off the analogy. But the analogy lies bleeding on the ground, and politics is giving it another hard stomp.
Some day soon, an English professor will read an essay explaining that the Roman general Coriolanus must have been a farmer, because he is described as going forth to battle “like to a harvest-man that’s task’d to mow.” When the good professor flings himself out the window, as he almost surely will when that moment comes, he will know whom and what he has to thank.
This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.