Recently, former United States Secretary of States Madeleine Albright said she felt like she was trapped inside an erupting volcano with a howling dog while watching the recent debate between President Trump and his Democratic challenger, Mr Joe Biden.
How appropriate is Madam Albright’s characterization of the two candidates and what kinds of imagery do they leave on the subconscious when the characters of these metaphors are scrutinized more intensely? If we choose to start with the latter and consider the dominant message conveyed by a howling dog metaphor made by Darwin following his discovery of the modulations in the bark of a dog, which by the way, is the cry of despair, then we may conclude that the characterization takes away rather than bolster Joe Biden. Does Joe Biden want to been seen as one in despair? Helpless? Or does he want to be seen as one who is confident, knows what he is doing and where he wants to take the United States if he wins this November? How much hope does an individual evidently in despair convey? How much hope does an individual perceived as helpless convey or communicate to others? Isn’t it a fact that an individual robed in despair seeking to give hope to others is told ‘Physician heal thyself?’
The imagery of an erupting volcano on the other hand is one of danger! An almost consuming danger. One that makes one shudder. In fright and, ironically, acquiescence after other options have been considered. How does the average individual choose if he has a choice between something that makes him shiver and something that makes him shudder? Between something that makes him feel very cold or something that makes him feel very hot.
And speaking of our fear of an erupting volcano, doesn’t our dread sit on the fact of the immense power embedded in the phenomenon? But how many have faulted the path-creating, path-finding and path-advancing abilities of erupting volcanoes over the course of time?
Herein lies the paradox in Madam Albright’s characterization. Evidently, she wished to drum up support for Mr. Biden and discourage voters from casting their votes for President Trump but by holding them up in the above metaphors, she inadvertently may have achieved the opposite of her goal.