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He’s running the shots

This excellent malaphor was uttered by a CNN reporter on the program New Day on 8/9/18.  The reporter was referring to Mueller, and his ongoing negotiations with Trump’s legal team with respect to an interview with Trump.  It’s a congruent conflation of “running the show” and “calling the shots”, both referring to someone who is in control of the situation.  “Show” and “shot” are both four letter words that have similar sounds, and I suspect the reason for the mental mix up.  A big thank you to Mike Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in.  

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Transparency is a two way sword

This gem was uttered by James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, on CNN’s The Axe Files with David Axelrod.  It is a mashup of “double-edged sword” (something that can be both beneficial and problematic) and “two-way street” (a situation where both sides must put forth an equal amount of effort to get a desired result).  The reason for the mixup is obvious:  “double” means “two”.  Also, the two expressions are close in meaning.  A big thanks to James Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in.

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Lay down the gauntlet

This was spoken on June 6 by New York Times’ reporter Maggie Haberman, appearing on CNN’s Inside Politics.  It is a subtle mashup of “throw down the gauntlet” (to issue a challenge) and “lay down the law” (to give a directive or order sternly).  I suppose one could lay down the gauntlet but throwing it seems much more appropriate. This expression alludes to the medieval practice of a knight throwing down his gauntlet, or metal glove, as a challenge to combat. Its figurative use dates from the second half of the 1700s.  A big thanks once again to Frank King for hearing this one and throwing it my way. @MaggieNYT


They are kicking the can down the table

Similar to the last post, this is another “kick the can down the road” malaphor.  Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, said this one on CNN.  He was explaining why he did not want to pass a CR.  This is a mashup of “kick the can down the road” (to postpone or defer an action) and I think “come to the table”(to meet to negotiate a particular issue or situation).  My guess is that Schumer combined these two thoughts as he is currently negotiating a deal to stop the government shutdown.  New Yorkers talk faster than their thoughts.  A big thanks to Beatrice Zablocki for hearing this one.


It popped eyebrows

Chris Cuomo on CNN made this comment regarding a controversial statement.  It is a nice mash up of “raised eyebrows”  (something causing concern or surprise) and “eye-popping” (something astonishing).   Perhaps Groucho Marx was on the speaker’s mind at the time.  A tip of the hat to Ron MacDonald for hearing this one and sending it along.


Trump is not going to throw Paul Ryan over the bus

Over/under is the culprit here.  This was heard by a Republican pundit speaking on CNN.  It is a nice mashup of “go over the cliff” (taking a drastic step) and “throw (someone) under the bus” (exploit someone’s trust for one’s own gain or purpose).  “Throw (someone) overboard” (get rid of excess baggage) might also be in the mix, as well as “over the edge” (excessive or out of control).  Given the statures of the persons named, it might be possible.  A big thanks to Ron McDonald for hearing this one and sending it in!


Reading between the tea leaves

This one is straight out of the mouth of senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju on CNN’s Inside Politics, discussing who knew what about connections between Russia and the Trump campaign:

And then I asked Schiff the same question. He said he’s not willing to go there. So the question is perhaps is there any intelligence in that regard that they’re not sharing with the committee. With that — we don’t know that yet but reading between the tea leaves that suggests that. The question is the independent prosecutor, that’s something that Schiff called for yesterday.   http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1703/03/ip.02.html

This is a nice subtle mashup of “reading the tea leaves” (predicting on little bits of information) and “reading between the lines” ((perceiving an obscure or unexpressed meaning).  Both idioms pertain to perceiving or predicting, and both contain the word “reading”.   “Lines” and “leaves” are also similar sounding words.  A shout out to Barbara Artuso for hearing this one and sending it in!