A modest proposal that children work as janitors
December 14, 2011 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Newt Gingrich's suggestion that poor children work as janitors reminds me an awful lot of Swift's "A Modest Proposal." Can you think of anything in the 2004 presidential race that was similarly Swiftian?

That's about it, really. This is for a story set in 2004.
posted by Ollie to Law & Government (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have to think you could mine the decades of ramblings by Ron Paul and find something every bit as nutty as Newt's "kids as janitors" idea. Especially when it comes to economics, social safety nets, etc.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:18 AM on December 14, 2011

It's not Swiftian if you mean it sincerely, which Gingrich apparently does. [On preview, ditto Ron Paul. They're not engaged in satire. They actually believe what they're saying.]

I would be extremely surprised if any presidential candidate since the invention of the sound bite has intentionally used Swiftian satire: it would be far too easy for the opposition to strip away the indicators of satire and turn it into an attack ad: "Candidate X supports eating babies!"
posted by ook at 7:21 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks, Ook, but I do mean things sincerely said that bring Swift to the listener's mind...the kind of thing where you think "Is he kidding?" and then you realize he isn't.
posted by Ollie at 7:41 AM on December 14, 2011

Tea Partiers in certain quarters have been arguing that suffrage should be restricted to landowners who can pass a civics test.
posted by Gilbert at 8:36 AM on December 14, 2011

Michelle Bachmann said something about how if we got rid of the minimum wage, we'd have full employment.

Ron and Rand Paul have let loose with lots of jaw-droppers: stores should be able to discriminate based on race if they want to, etc.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:00 AM on December 14, 2011

Thanks all--just to clarify, I'm talking about the 2004 presidential race.
posted by Ollie at 9:07 AM on December 14, 2011

You could poke around partisan blogs from 2004 like this:

1 2 3

If a candidate of either party says something of the sort you're looking for, the blogs from the opposite party are likely the ones to point it out.
posted by flug at 9:15 AM on December 14, 2011

Michelle Bachman's argument that marriage laws do not discriminate against gay people, since gay people have exactly the same rights to marry opposite-sex partners that straight people do.

It called to mind Anatole France's statement that "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." Not Swift, but Swiftian.
posted by Clambone at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2011

OK, people, two-thousand-four. Kerry v. Bush. And a D primary with Clark, Dean, Edwards, Gephardt, Graham, Kerry, Kucinich, Lieberman, Moseley Braun, and Sharpton.

Personally, it was an election year that came across more as Orwellian than Swiftian, but I'm sure somebody said something -- especially, perhaps, Al.
posted by dhartung at 2:22 PM on December 14, 2011

Not a direct answer to your question, but Rachel Maddow recently had the same reaction you did, which you may find of interest. (transcript form). In regards to Newt's sincerity vs Swift's, she sums it up: "The difference is that Jonathan Swift was a satirist. Jonathan Swift was kidding."
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:35 PM on December 14, 2011

A good place to start looking for all the crazy antics of the 2004 election cycle is Matt Taibbi's hilarious book Spanking the Donkey.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 3:21 AM on December 15, 2011

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