Thursday, July 16, 2009

Miller’s gorilla

The Gorilla Glue Company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio; among its growing line of adhesives is its flagship product, an “incredibly strong” household liquid polyurethane glue that bonds to and repairs breaks in dissimilar surfaces including wood, stone, metal, ceramics, foam, glass “& more.” The product, which is actually produced in Denmark, contains prepolymized MDI, diphenylmethane-4,4 diisocyanate in a thick, tea-colored, relentlessly effective concoction that’ll firmly bond your fingers to anything they touch. Trust me on that.

Zell Miller may learn just how sticky Gorilla Glue can be, in a figurative sense. The former Democratic senator from Georgia made comments today as the keynote speaker at the annual gathering of the American Legislative Exchange Council. He was quoted in a story in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution. What he said may have been innocent enough, but given the context and Miller’s proven talent for going off the rails … well, you just never know.

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Speaking to more than 1,000 conservative and Republican lawmakers, Miller said, “Today, we’re spending like we’re Paris Hilton, regulating like we’re Ralph Nader, nationalizing like we’re Hugo Chavez, printing money like we’re the Weimar Republic and taxing like we’re, well, the Democratic Congress. …”

“Our globe-trotting president needs to stop and take a break and quit gallivanting all around. I think Rahm Emanuel ought to get some Gorilla Glue and put it in that chair in the Oval Office and say, ‘sit here awhile.’”

Zell Miller’s choice of brands was, ah, curious. Apparently no other name glue would do. Not Elmer’s Glue, not Krazy Glue, not Super Glue, not 3M or Loctite or the names of any other brand-name companies making the same or similar products. Nope, Miller went straight for the Gorilla. Why were masking tape and duct tape kicked to the curb? Why no consideration of construction-grade staples?

Miller will mount a seemingly ironclad defense; he merely used a real brand name to make an admittedly inelegant but perfectly legitimate point. In so doing, whether he meant to or not, he became another white Southern male invoking one of the oldest, dumbest and most persistent racist symbols used to impugn African American manhood for generations.

We sigh astonished at just how badly a former Democratic senator (one now ardently embraced by the GOP) can go wrong. But hey, it’s no big deal. We’ve always known Zell was still crazy after all these years. We’ve known it since at least 2004, when this fulminating whackjob challenged MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to a duel. Now this. And any man who'll say the word "gallivanting" with a straight face this far into the 21st century ... well, it's anybody's guess what he’ll say next.

So maybe Zell Miller will go back under the cone of silence from which he emerged today. Rights organizations like the NAACP needn’t waste their time on protests against this. There’re more important things going on. A new American president still has a strong bond with the American people. And those same American people are restoring an old bond, the one they had with possibilities and the sense of an upbeat future. No glue better than that.
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Image credits: Gorilla Glue: The Gorilla Glue Company. Miller: U.S. Senate photograph (Public domain).

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