As you may infer from the title, the latest pundit to engage in this appropriate and worn-out cliche is Andrew Sullivan, a writer whom I generally like but does punch out copy with such rapidity that a certain amount of cliche becomes, perhaps, inevitable.
In a recent post (fairly) criticizing Senator Harry Reid for spineless political triangulation and misdirection over the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Sullivan said:
If I lived in Arizona Nevada and had the vote, even though Sharron Angle is beyond nuts, I’d vote for her. Better nuts than this disgusting, cynical, partisan Washington kabuki dance, when people’s lives and dignity are at stake.
“Kabuki dance” is an old stand-by (Kabuki is of course a genre of drama, not a dance) and “Washington kabuki” with or without “dance” is also tried-and true, but Sullivan does stick more adjectives on the front than most. However, what he misses is the irony of insulting Harry Reid for his anti-gay political positions by calling him a performer in kabuki, a dramatic form in which transvestism is not just institutionalized, but considered a high art, and which for centuries had been strongly associated with homosexual prostitution.
I will reproduce the first paragraph of the relevant Wikipedia article here, followed by a very interesting video featuring Onnagata actor Bando Tamasaburo, which includes an interview and some actual kabuki footage. I recommend watching it twice, the second time imagining the part is being played by Harry Reid, and considering what that would mean for Andrew Sullivan’s clumsy metaphor.
Onnagata or oyama (Japanese: 女形・女方, “woman-role”), are male actors who impersonate women in Japanese kabuki theatre. The modern all-male kabuki was originally known as yarō kabuki (man kabuki) to distinguish it from earlier forms. In the early 17th century, shortly after the emergence of the genre, many kabuki theaters had an all-female cast (onna kabuki), with women playing men’s roles as necessary. Wakashū kabuki (adolescent-boy kabuki), with a cast composed entirely of attractive young men playing both male and female roles, and frequently dealing in erotic themes, originated circa 1612.(p90)