In the excitement of yesterday’s big gay leap forward by President Obama, we appear to have missed mentioning Jonah Goldberg’s useful article where Jonah helpfully takes Joe Biden to task for abusing the words “literally” and “figuratively”.
The problem is that Biden insists that he does know what it means. One of his favorite ways to emphasize his seriousness is to say, “and I mean literally, not figuratively,” as if “literally” meant “I’m really serious” and “figuratively” connoted some effeminate lack of conviction. He says JFK’s “call to service literally, not figuratively, still resounds from generation to generation.” He told students in Africa, “You are the keystone to East Africa — literally, not figuratively, you are the keystone.” “The American people are looking for us as Democrats,” he has said. “They’re looking for someone literally, not figuratively, to restore America’s place in the world.”
I think Jonah is doing us all a service here because as we all know there’s literally nothing more annoying than some idiot saying something like “It literally blew my mind” or “He’s literally such a pain in my Oshkosh-Scranton corridor”.
I suspect we could all do with a quick refresher on the difference between “literal” and “figurative”. So here, if you will bear with me, are two illustrative examples.
“Jonah Goldberg was lying when he claimed, on the dustjacket of his latest book, “The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas”, and the NRO website, and his publisher’s website, that he had “twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize”, when in fact his name had merely been submitted twice by his publisher for consideration.”
“Jonah Goldberg is a lying douchebag with the morals of a badger on crystal meth.”
I suggest that you print this post out, so that if you ever get confused as to the difference you can refer to it and it should clear everything up.