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Careful With That Simile:

From Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC (irrelevant factoid: daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski):

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Well, but you can't argue that the Clinton campaign didn't do some serious damage in light of the Wright stuff and the bitter comments--

[Joe] SCARBOROUGH: That wasn't the Clinton campaign.

BRZEZINSKI: They pounced on it like lemmings.

Whoops. These sorts of slips are inevitable in unedited conversation, but still, whoops. Thanks to Mark Finkelstein (Newsbusters) and Matthew Sheffield for the pointer.

EIDE_Interface (mail):
Now if Ms. Breziniski isn't "fair and balanced"!
4.22.2008 2:41pm
ed in texas (mail):
Yes! Lemmings! With huge fangs and great sharp claws! They swooped down of a cliff and attacked!

If Obama can say Bill Ayers and Tom Coburn are the same then I can say lemmings swoop.
4.22.2008 3:17pm
Thoughtful (mail):
And the voters responded like rats fleeing a sinking ship...
4.22.2008 3:23pm
ifoughtthelaw (mail) (www):
I think you mean like jackals fleeing a sinking ship.
4.22.2008 3:46pm
Libertarian1 (mail):
And once the story surfaced the rest of the MSM blindly pursued it and followed it off the cliff just like vultures.
4.22.2008 3:47pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Hey, waitaminute! Does anyone here know for a fact that lemmings don't pounce?
4.22.2008 4:03pm
Bored Lawyer:
Animal metaphors.

So easy to screw up.

What's wrong with "Like a duck on a June bug?"
4.22.2008 4:06pm
Bruce:
As it turns out, lemmings don't actually behave like lemmings.
4.22.2008 4:07pm
Skyler (mail) (www):
It's not that bad a simile. They acted just like all the others, like lemmings, just pouncing instead of jumping.

I took the time to look up lemming in wikipedia and was shocked to learn that Walt Disney show faked a lemming drive off a cliff by forcing a bunch of them to run off of a table and then filming a bunch of lemmings that they threw off a cliff. The whole lemming shtick is a myth. Even if they don't pounce. Shocking that this myth was perpetuated by Disney.
4.22.2008 4:09pm
hawkins:
I dont have a horse in this fight
4.22.2008 4:22pm
Federal Dog:
Whatever misgivings you might rightly have about this exchange, you must admire the idea of "pouncing" lemmings.
4.22.2008 5:02pm
Freddy Hill:
"The Pouncing Lemmings" would be an ok name for a rock band.
4.22.2008 5:20pm
Houston Lawyer:
What, she couldn't work flying cockroaches into that?
4.22.2008 5:21pm
James Ellis (mail):
I like the geographer Ziegler of Strasbourg's theory from 1530 (on Wikipedia)...what Brzezinski meant to say was "they rained down on it like lemmings."
4.22.2008 5:43pm
LM (mail):

Shocking that this myth was perpetuated by Disney.

... the owner of ABC, who employs George Stephanopolous, the former Clinton adviser who pounced on it like....
4.22.2008 6:49pm
schlueky:
Eugene, isn't that a simile, rather than a metaphor?
4.22.2008 7:13pm
LM (mail):
schlueky,

Are you sure he doesn't agree with you?
4.22.2008 8:11pm
PersonFromPorlock:

Eugene, isn't that a simile, rather than a metaphor?

"The lemmings of the media pounced on it like a wolfpack of chihuahuas."

There, you can have it both ways. ;^)
4.22.2008 9:23pm
FantasiaWHT:
Better source

Snopes Link
4.22.2008 9:43pm
gwinje:
Lemmings do, in fact, jump off cliffs and swim to their deaths. Not all of them and not on purpose, but they do. And if they want to 'pounce' on the off chance that they're on one of the doomed migrations, I say more power to 'em.
4.22.2008 9:50pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
LM, schlueky: I caught myself just as I hit the post button on a post that called it a "metaphor"; I therefore immediately changed it to "simile," but people who get the post by e-mail (or people who caught the post on the page in the brief moment before the change) saw "metaphor."
4.22.2008 10:40pm
LM (mail):
EV,

Thanks for clearing that up.
4.23.2008 12:10am
neurodoc:
...people who get the post by e-mail
Is that an option? How does it work? (I don't find the answer clicking on "E-mail Policy" above, nor on "Subscribe.") If there is away to "subscribe" to a thread to see new postings to it, I'd like to know about it.
4.23.2008 1:18am
neurodoc:
Bruce: As it turns out, lemmings don't actually behave like lemmings."
But it works so well as metaphor, simile, synecdoche, litotes, or whatever the hell it is/does. If we were to acknowledge the whole thing as myth and give it up, do you have anything else to replace it? I suppose "herd behavior" might do, but it is nearly so vivid an image as that of thousands of these little creatures going over a cliff together. (Would the opposite of lemming-like be cat-like, since it is famously impossible to herd cats?)
4.23.2008 1:25am
HenryH:
Isn't it true that lemmings are the only animal besides man to hunt in packs like wolves?

Oh, and by the way, if we're picking nits, you might check this out: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/factoid.html
4.23.2008 3:43pm
HenryH:
...people who get the post by e-mail

Is that an option? How does it work? (I don't find the answer clicking on "E-mail Policy" above, nor on "Subscribe.") If there is away to "subscribe" to a thread to see new postings to it, I'd like to know about it.

neurodoc,
Scroll down a little on the site and you'll see a section titled "Contact". Under that is another called "Subscribe". You can set up your mail client to get RSS feeds, or there are links for "Email Notification" and "Get Posts by Email". Check it out.
4.25.2008 4:45pm