This well-crafted mixed idiom appeared in the Washington Post. The author, Callum Borchers, was discussing the issue of where Republicans who are seeking office stand on supporting Donald Trump. “In future elections, Republicans seeking office will have to answer an important question: Where did you stand on Donald Trump? Some seem acutely aware of this looming litmus test and are riding the fence.”
This is a mash up of “sitting on the fence” (not taking sides in a dispute) and “riding it out” (continue working through something unpleasant or dangerous). The author might also have been thinking of “riding the pine” (in sports, to remain sitting on the bench), as it involves sitting. In researching this curious malaphor, I found that the idiom actually is used in St. Maarten. On that beautiful island, the airport is situated right off the beach. Tourists hold onto a fence as the planes take off and land just feet above them, hence the expression “riding the fence.”
A tip of the hat to frequent malaphor contributor John Costello for spotting this one and sending it on!
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