Froggy went a-marchin’, uh huh:
“The president’s commutation of an old and loyal aide’s severe sentence will doubtless be severely criticized itself. And not just by those who’ve always wanted Scooter Libby, and his old boss, Dick Cheney, frog-marched out of the White House.”
Hardly noticed before, frog-march has become fashionable, for reasons unknown. What is known is that it dates from the 1930s, and it means “to seize from behind roughly and forcefully propel forward.”
When Bill Clinton scolded President Bush for commuting Libby’s sentence, presidential press secretary Tony Snow recalled pardons that Clinton had issued, and said the criticism from the former president was an example of chutzpah or the Arkansas equivalent thereof.
Chutzpah comes from Yiddish, little spoken around here, and I don’t know that there is an Arkansas equivalent, other than the words used in the dictionary definition of chutzpah — “unmitigated effrontery or impudence; gall.”
It’s a flexible word, sometimes used unfavorably, sometimes not. Winifred Baker passes along a quotation from Richard Lederer that may explain why Snow chose it. Chutzpah, Lederer says, is “a quality we admire in ourselves, but never in others.”
When they wring those golden bells:
“Williams riffs his way around a script that has him playing a control-freak preacher who puts a betrothed couple through the ringer before he’ll preside over their nuptials at his gorgeous pseudo-traditional, pseudo-hip church.” …
“For those who often can only bear the news of the day by seeing it put through the comedy wringer of a Jon Stewart, the evening was grim.” …
The second writer is correct. The first is probably young, and never saw an old-fashioned washing machine with a wringer. Wet laundry was put through the wringer to squeeze out water. It was a helpful device, but dangerous. Washerwomen were warned to take extreme care when using it.
The real wringer gave birth to the figurative — “a painful, difficult, or tiring experience; ordeal (usually preceded by through the).”