Lame duck
Posted: 02 November 2010 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I always thought that the term “lame duck” could apply to a head of government who is opposed by the legislature and hence has reduced effectiveness. e.g. Clinton after the mid-terms.

The internet is telling me I’m wrong: “lame duck” is one who has already been voted out or “timed out” by term limits and is just holding the place until the President elect steps in (e.g. Bush after Nov 2008).

Was I imagining it? Is lame duck never used in the first sense?

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Posted: 02 November 2010 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve only heard it in the sense of elected officials who are serving out a term after the election that replaced them.  I don’t think that it is even used for an official serving a term that is the last term by term limits.

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Posted: 02 November 2010 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Well there you go.

Is there a term for Presidents with hostile Houses?

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Posted: 02 November 2010 10:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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OP Tipping - 02 November 2010 06:03 PM


Is there a term for Presidents with hostile Houses?

Nothing comes to mind, perhaps because it’s pretty much the norm.  Every U.S. president from Reagan thru Obama will have faced a House controlled by the other party for between two and eight years.

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Posted: 02 November 2010 10:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Faldage - 02 November 2010 05:33 PM

I’ve only heard it in the sense of elected officials who are serving out a term after the election that replaced them.  I don’t think that it is even used for an official serving a term that is the last term by term limits.

Actually, the term “lame duck” is often applied to such officials.  Lame duck status for Reagan after the 1986 mid-terms

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Posted: 03 November 2010 03:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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These financial senses predate the political ones (from the OED):

1761 H. WALPOLE Lett. H. Mann 28 Dec. (1843) I. 60 Do you know what a Bull, and a Bear, and a Lame Duck are? 1771 GARRICK Prol. to Foote’s Maid of B., Change-Alley bankrupts waddle out lame ducks!

There is this nautical sense from about the time the political term came into vogue:

1876 C. CHAPMAN First Ten Yrs. Sailor’s Life at Sea x. 411 A lame duck on the sea means a ship which has been more or less damaged while crossing the perilous ocean.

And there is this, the first cite in a political sense, which doesn’t sound as if it refers specifically to politicians who have lost an election, although I’d have to find the source and read the context to be sure:

1863 Congress. Globe 14 Jan. 307/1 In no event..could it [sc. the Court of Claims] be justly obnoxious to the charge of being a receptacle of ‘lame ducks’ or broken down politicians.

So the primary sense has always been “damaged,” with a secondary, more specialized sense of “serving out the remainder of a term after having lost an election.”

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Posted: 03 November 2010 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Huh. I would not have guessed Carter was the last to have it all his own way…
Thanks.

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