Is that a cucumber in your underwear or are you just happy to be pickled?

Glenn Reynolds has a very amusing editorial comparing Barack Obama to Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, who has cranked up the knobs to 11.

The more I watch this administration at work, the more I think we're seeing the first Nigel Tufnel presidency.

Nigel Tufnel, many will remember, was the fictitious heavy metal guitarist in the fictional "rockumentary" "This Is Spinal Tap." In a classic scene, he displays his guitar collection and his special amplifier that -- unlike all other amplifiers in existence -- has knobs that go all the way up to 11, instead of just 10.

And that's what Obama has done: In his first two years as president, he's taken us to 11 in so many ways.

Normally, we are conditioned to see 10 as the scale number that cannot be exceeded. But that's only because we've been stuck in our backward decimalistic thinking which sees things on a scale of 1 through 10. By taking us to 11, Obama has either defied the laws of math or else he has elevated us to elevenism -- a system newer than the newest new new math.

What he did not realize is that the setting of 11 would make the frogs jump:

For Nigel Tufnel, turning the knobs to 11 was a way to excite the crowd, and Obama's approach has certainly done that, if not quite in the way that Obama intended. While many Americans were uneasy about big government before, Obama's shock-and-awe approach got them downright upset.

Al Gore used to tell the story of a frog in a pot of slowly heating water, left insensible to the fact that it was being boiled by slow degrees. Obama turned the knob on the stove to 11, and now the frog has decided to jump.

Hmmm... And if we consider the Gore frog hypothesis in light of the latest scientific evidence (that if you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly heat it up, the frog will freeze to death before it realizes it's actually boiling), then the rapid turning up of the knob has obviously caused a concomitant rapid freeze in the economy -- precisely in accord with the new counterintuitive law of physics we now know to be true! So it doesn't matter whether the frogs are avoiding the sudden freezing or the rapid boiling; the point is that they are jumping out of the pot.

Glenn continues:

Obama's advisers thought that the sudden introduction of numerous big-government programs would produce a sort of shock-and-awe effect, paralyzing opposition and getting the public used to the idea of European style government involvement in American life. But instead of shock and awe, Obama's approach has produced shock and action, with the Tea Party movement and other anti-big-government protests sweeping the nation like wildfire, and producing the biggest Democratic midterm defeat in generations.

And, like the beleaguered band Spinal Tap, Obama is seeing his appeal shrink rapidly despite the increased volume -- though his advisers, like Spinal Tap's manager Ian Faith, protest that his appeal isn't shrinking, just becoming "more selective." In fact, as it flounders before the Wikileaks scandal and the TSA brouhaha, the entire Obama presidency seems to be shrinking, much like the 18-foot model of Stonehenge that, through a slip of Tufnel's pen, became an 18-inch model of Stonehenge that left audiences unimpressed.

The Spinal Tap analogy is so rich that I think the film may be truly prophetic.

I mean, consider the cucumber scene -- which so eerily anticipates the TSA brouhaha that I am flabbergasted.

Glenn concludes by asking whether there will be a Spinal Tap-style "happy ending to a humorous story of ineptitude and decline."

Well, I think we are in a pickle.

I'd call it the final "solution" for cucumbers and frogs, but this is getting sick.

(Plus, I don't like violating Godwin's Law on Sundays....)

UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

(And I don't know what I would do if someone limited me to 800 words!)

posted by Eric on 12.05.10 at 12:05 PM


Although that was one of the funniest bits in the movie, I never quite understood why he had it wrapped in tinfoil... surely that would have been a bit uncomfortable.

I mean, the one and only time I ever did that (yes, I did - it was a very subtle Halloween costume, I went out as a man.) I didn't use any tinfoil.

I might add that I caused quite a bit of consternation when I "unmasked" - most people had thought I was not in costume. And it was a GOOD fake moustache. And a lot of padding in odd places to make me look chubby rather than curved. Probably the best Halloween costume I ever did. The cucumber was what made them roll on the floor though. Long before Spinal Tap.

Kathy Kinsley   ·  December 5, 2010 5:40 PM

Too bad there are not more hexadecimal fans. Then you could turn it up to 17 which is 11h (the "h" of course is hexadecimal with "o" for octal and "b" for binary should you need it). I guess you can't get away from 11.

M. Simon   ·  December 6, 2010 7:04 AM

Spinal Tap was really funny. Obama, not so much.

Diggs   ·  December 6, 2010 9:29 AM

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