The “Lipstick-on-a-Pig” Comment

You have, no doubt, by now heard the uproar over Obama’s comment yesterday about putting lipstick on a pig. Here’s my take on the incident.

First, Obama would not be so stupid as to deliberately equate Palin with a pig. That would have marked the end of his campaign. The expression “lipstick on a pig” is a figure of speech that’s as old as the hills, used to describe a cheap attempt to mask an ugly truth. I’m confident that’s all Obama had in mind when he used it.

However . . . .

Palin’s joke about the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull (lipstick) has become the defining metaphor of the McCain campaign in the last week. Obama should have known that ANY use of the word “lipstick” would instantly be attached to Palin’s joke, ergo, to Palin. Certainly the partisan audience who heard Obama’s remarks caught that connection.

No, Obama did not intentionally smear Palin by inferring that she is a pig. (And the McCain campaign should not try to force that message.) His only sin was to — once again — clumsily stumble into an embarassing verbal gaffe.

And once again I ask: Why isn’t the press using Obama’s malapropisms to impugn his competence, the same way they have been doing to Bush for the last eight years?

UPDATE: Althouse nails it perfectly:

The fact that there is an old expression isn’t enough. What if Obama opponents took to saying “pot calling the kettle black” or “call a spade a spade.” There would be no end to the outrage… and rightly so. I don’t what to hear the “old expression” argument from anyone who won’t say they’d make the same argument if the tables were turned.


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