Politics Science fiction/fantasy

Colbert demolishes Rick Santorum’s Lord of the Rings analogy

Die-hard Tolkien fan that I am, I was struck at how breath-takingly stupid an analogy this was, even for Rick Santorum. For one thing, as Lance Manion points out, the forces of good didn’t start the war. For another thing, Frodo in essence failed. He succumbed to the temptation of the One Ring at the last minute and claimed it for himself. Only the greedy intervention of Gollum, still lusting for the Ring, saved the day. (Of course, if Frodo hadn’t shown mercy to Gollum earlier in the story, Gollum wouldn’t have been alive to unwittingly save the day, but that’s another matter.) The most obvious problem with such an analogy, however, is that Aragorn and Gandalf knew that their mission to attack Mordor at the Black Gate (which is what Santorum is comparing to our invasion of Iraq) was very likely a suicide mission. If Frodo didn’t succeed and the Ring fell into Sauron’s hands, rather than being destroyed at Mount Doom, Mordor’s forces, with overwhelming numerical superiority, would have easily wiped the armies of Gondor and Rohan off the face of Middle Earth. (In fact, Sauron’s armies were in the middle of doing exactly that when Gollum fell into the fire at Mount Doom with the Ring, leading to the destruction of Sauron’s fortress Barad-Dûr.) Aragorn knew from the beginning that his armies had no hope of defeating Sauron by force of arms alone and that he was walking right into the meat grinder. But he did it anyway to give Frodo and Sam a chance, however small, of destroying the Ring.

What Santorum seems to be implying by his analogy is that our soldiers in Iraq are on a similarly doomed mission and that they can’t possibly succeed by force of arms alone. If we follow the analogy, they will be destroyed unless something very unlikely happens. The only question is: What is going to save the soldiers in Iraq? There is no One Ring to be destroyed and thus destroy the power of the enemy.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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