Deliver us from political hyperbole

11 Jan

Is it just me, or does the hyperbole of political campaign reportage get to you? Anyone reading journalistic coverage of Hillary Clinton’s win in the New Hampshire primary would swear that something truly extraordinary had happened if they didn’t know otherwise. Here in Oz, the Sydney Morning Herald hailed the win as a resurrection, no less, and peppered its columns with talk of her near-death and coming back to life. “This is a tidal wave” for Obama, Al Gore’s former campaign-manager apparently claimed.

steel-barack-obama-support-hampshire.jpg

Now please. Is this a way for political commentators to give themselves a misplaced machismo, posturing as men of steel in the only way they know how? Do we have to keep hearing talk of massacres and deaths and tsunamis every time someone gets a few more votes than someone else in the early stages of a political campaign?

Even more than the historical accounts I was talking about last post, this kind of hackneyed exaggeration degrades the language. It isn’t possible to talk about real deaths and catastrophes, and to capture something of their horror and significance, when the vocabulary to describe them is constantly reduced by cheap metaphor.

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