When a Nation Forgets Its Own Clichés (‘Uphill Lift’ Edition)

From our annual That’s Just Sad desk

As the hardworking staff wends its way through this veil – sorry, vale – of tears, we’ve felt obliged to keep track of the mangled phrases employed by our differently worded brethren, who go forth and multiply at an alarming rate.

At any rate, here’s the latest batch, in reverse chronological order.

• In mid-November 2017, one of the chin strokers on the ABC News podcast Powerhouse Politics said that Republicans in Congress voting on tax reform were “putting all their marbles in the basket.”

Actually . . . no.

You either put all your eggs in one basket or you play for all the marbles. Unless, of course, you’ve lost yours.

• That same day, Poynter’s Morning MediaWire, in a Donald Trump compare ‘n’ contrast segment, noted Dwight Eisenhower’s “ability to take orders, turn a chin and assemble giant military operations.”

In reality, you either take it on the chin or turn the other cheek. Of which Trump has quite a bit, no?

• In an early January 2018 New York Times interview with Maggie Haberman and Nick Corasaniti, Trump gofer Chris Christie “defended Mr. Trump as well as his own role in the transition, which he said went off the wheels after his departure.”

Not to get technical about it, but either the wheels went off the transition, or it went off the rails. And, yes, it definitely did.

• During NBC’s broadcast of the 2018 Winter Olympics in February, Adam Rippon said of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s short program in ice dancing, “Watching them . . . I could feel my hair grow.”

The hardguessing staff believes that’s a variation on the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, but it’s inspired enough to stand up on its own.

• Around the middle of March, Mike Allen’s Axios AM newsletter featured an item headlined Why China may not catch up to U.S. on AI. The reason? “The U.S.-Canadian side moves on a dime.”

Yeah . . . the headscratching staff is guessing he meant turns on a dime. We’re not sure what the two countries would move in this situation – maybe someone’s cheese? Then again, with Canada involved, there’s probably a tariff on that.

• In early April, New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi reported that David Smith, executive chairman of the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group, said he “dislikes and fundamentally distrusts the print media,” adding that “[t]he print media is so left wing as to be meaningless dribble.”

Oddly enough, just weeks before that Fox News roboblonde Laura Ingraham had “rebuked  the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James for ‘talking politics’ during a recent interview — something the Fox News host believes is out of bounds for an athlete,” according to NPR’s Emily Sullivan.

“Shut up and dribble,” Ingraham told James.

Memo to Smith and Ingraham: Seriously mixed messages, you zany right wingers.

• Also in April, Politico’s Playbook noted a Washington Post piece by Joshua Partlow, who reported that “President Trump recently blasted Mexico as doing ‘very little, if not nothing’ to stop the flow of people across Mexican territory en route to the United States.”

Please, someone tell the Cheeto-in-Chief that the proper phrase is little or nothing. Thank you very little, if not nothing.

• Later that month, when  South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Panmunjom in advance of the Trump-Kim Singapore summit, Axios’s Jonathan Swan wrote, “This is South Korea working overdrive to save the summit.”

Not to be undiplomatic about it, but South Korea was either working overtime or shifting into overdrive. Hold the nukes, please.

• In the middle of May, one of the chin strokers on Politico’s Nerdcast said of a candidate in a Pennsylvania primary race, “it was an uphill lift all along.” More likely it was an uphill battle or a heavy lift, but we don’t want to fight about it.

• In a July piece whose source we failed to note in our notes, the topic was apps collecting and circulating information off smartphones without the user’s knowledge. “We just scratched the tip of the iceberg,” someone said to someone else.

Not to be cold about it, but you either scratch the surface of something or just see the tip of the iceberg.

Then again, we just scratched the tip of the story.

• An August item in Politico Playbook asserted that “As of today, almost every Republican worth their weight in salt believes Democrats will win the House.”

Memo to Playbookniks: Things are either worth their weight in gold, or people are worth their salt – that is, good or competent at their job or profession.

Which GOP lawmakers these days are decidedly not.

More grains of salt next year . . .

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2 Responses to When a Nation Forgets Its Own Clichés (‘Uphill Lift’ Edition)

  1. Curmudgeon. says:

    Goodness, John, a gratuitous remark aimed solely at the Republicans in Congress.

    Do you really believe that the Democrats’ have a more sterling record?

    Let me put it to you as a simple question:. Do you really think that Senator Fienstien (D-CA and Senator for Life and for as long as she can be propped up in her chair without people guessing that she has passed, has read the Bill of Richtsor, if she has, still has the capacity to understand what they mean???

    And maybe a quote from Nancy Pelosi Will help you consider you remark again. For her it’s the great policy of ” faster the money” for solving Puerto Rico’s painful recovery from?on their hurricane disaster!

    What say you, sir, on these weigty matters, or are you doing your seveth-inning warmup out there in the bull ring?

    • Campaign Outsider says:

      C’mon, Mudge – you’re better than this cheap What Aboutism.

      Let’s stipulate (as they say on Law and Order) that all your points are valid. Does that cancel out the craven Republican response to Trump’s shredding of virtually every conservative principle (fiscal responsibility,deficit reduction, free trade, support for our allies, rule of law, respect for the Constitution) that GOP lawmakers – and presumably, you – have long stood for?

      The flaws of Democrats don’t justify the flaws of Republicans.

      Or do they?

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