Formidable choppers

September 28, 2006

When William Murphy pulled a piranha out of Stans- bury Pond in Dundalk on Sunday, he was landing a fish that was apparently made famous in this country by none other than Teddy Roosevelt, who saw piranhas in action during a trip to the Amazon in 1914. Piranhas, in fact, normally don't go on the attack, but "normally don't" is not the same as "don't ever," and their ferocious reputation is well deserved.

The former president, who had prided himself on being a fighter in the public arena, couldn't help but be impressed by the way the relatively small piranha went after much bigger game, and almost always won. He went home and wrote a book about his adventure.

T.R. has been held up as a role model by the current occupant of the White House, but no, we're not going to try to link George W. Bush to a latter-day fish of prey in Dundalk. True, the word "piranha" shows up in print all the time in a metaphoric sense - because the teeth of this fish are so sharp, its jaws so strong, and its ability to sense blood in the water so acute - and it easily lends itself to political commentary. But Mr. Murphy didn't catch a metaphor; he caught a reality-based piranha, and somebody put it in that pond. That's not a good idea.

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