The President calls the ball

This delightful malaphor was uttered by Secretary of State Pompeo during a Senate hearing.  He was responding to a number of comments regarding the President’s rhetoric being inconsistent with what his subordinates are actually doing.  Here is the context:
“You basically have two different foreign policies in the United States, you have the foreign policy of the Trump administration and you have the foreign policy of President Trump himself,” historian Max Boot told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday.
“What the President says and does is ultimately more important that what people underneath him are doing,” he continued. “They are not getting a unity of purpose and they are not getting a consistent message out because the President is completely at odds with his own government.”
Administration officials dismiss such commentary, either denying there is a gap between the President and his subordinates or insisting that he alone sets administration policy.
Pompeo faced repeated variations of this question during a fiery Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month.
The President calls the ball. His statements are in fact policy,” Pompeo said. “This President runs this government. His statements are in fact US policy.”
This is a congruent conflation of “calls the shots” and “has the ball”, both meaning to be in command to make decisions.  “Calls the play” might also be in the mix.  My guess is that the speaker was also thinking of the idiom “calls the strikes and balls”, again meaning to make the decisions (like an umpire in baseball).  A shout out to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one on MSNBC and sharing it.

I’m just waiting for the next ball to drop

This was uttered in an interview.  It is a mash up of “wait for the other shoe to drop” (wait for the next seemingly unavoidable thing to happen” and “drop the ball” (make a mistake).  The speaker may have been thinking of the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square, and waiting for it to drop to usher in the new year.  Or perhaps the Road Runner cartoon where the anvil eventually drop on his head.  “Drop” is the culprit here, appearing in both idioms.  This malaphor seems very appropriate these days in the U.S.  A big thanks to Sam Edelmann who heard this one and dropped it on me.

Now we get into the heat of the meat

Stephen Colbert, in his 7/25/18 monologue, uttered this one when discussing the Cohen tape on the Trump payoff of the McDougall matter.  Here’s the link to the video:

It is a mashup of “in the heat of the moment” (doing something without thinking) and “the meat of the matter” (the most important or essential element of an issue or problem).  “Heart of the matter” (same definition as “meat of the matter”) might also be in play, as “heart” and “heat” are similar in sound and looks.  A big thanks to Sam Edelmann for hearing this one and sending it in.

I set the die that day

Sean Spicer​, during an interview with the BBC, regretted his poor performance in discussing the size of the Trump inauguration crowd ​on his first day as Press Secretary.  he then uttered this classic.  It is a mashup of “set the tone” (establish the manner in which something will be conducted) and “the die is cast” (a course of action is finalized).  My guess is that the speaker was thinking of die casting, the process used to produce metal parts.  Given the amount of lies from Mr. Spicer’s boss’s lips in the past two years, I think he definitely set the die.

“My Ol’ Pal” has a slightly different take.  She says: “When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he was said to have stated “The die is cast,” meaning that he had decided the fate of Rome. Perhaps Sean Spicer was thinking that he had determined the future of the administration’s falsifications with his pronouncement about the size of the crowd at the inauguration.”  Indeed.  For the quote, see 3:55 mark at:

A big thanks to David Barnes for hearing this one and sending it in.

Trump continues to play straight out of Putin’s pocket

This terrific mashup was spoken by Joe Scarborough on his show, “Morning Joe”, on July 17, 2018.  It is a conflation of “a page out of (someone’s) playbook” (to behave or act like someone else) and “in (someone’s) pocket” (under someone’s direct control or influence).  This mix up has its own unique connotation: someone who is directed by someone else and is following that person’s command or orders.  A big thanks to James Kozlowski for hearing this one and sending it in.

Everyone runs for the fences

Martha MacCallum on Fox News said this nicely formed malaphor.  It is a mashup of “run (or head) for the hills” (depart quickly) and “swing for the fences” (to act or perform with maximum intensity).  In baseball, you swing and then run, and that is possibly the mental image the speaker had when she uttered this one.  Also, the word “for” is common in both phrases.  A big thanks to Ralph Aikman for hearing this one and sending it in.

I’m trying to keep an open book

A physician asked someone about doing a fellowship.  The response was this nice malaphor.  It is a mashup of “keep an open mind” (to avoid making a judgment about something before considering it) and “I’m an open book” (a person’s life with no secrets).  “Open” is the source of the mix up here.  A big thanks to Jesse Garwood for sharing this one and admitting saying it!