July 22, 2004

Bear-knuckled politics

Jacob Sullum at reason online asks "Do Bears Have Knuckles?"

"From a story by Jonathan Chait in the July 26 New Republic: 'Bush and his allies have been described as partisan or bear-knuckled...' If you've ever seen Yogi and Boo-Boo fight, you know what he means."

In the comments, Phil asks "Are we witnessing the birth of an eggcorn?"

Probably not the birth, exactly:

(link) "Thank goodness actually they're wearing gloves, because I've witnessed bear knuckled boxing in a barn in Somerset, about 3 years ago..."
(link) While is generally recognized that this issue is one of many which underlies the Act 60 debate, the degree of rhetoric, finger pointing and name calling has escalated to a level one would expect in big-city, bear knuckled politics.
(link) Huber and his supporters were somewhat less comfortable engaging in a bear-knuckled internal political struggle for power than Peters' adherents.
(link) In fact, we often disagree on many subjects, leading to a full on, stripped to the waist, bear-knuckled, single-takedown grudge match.
(link) I've always found that part of the NASA Uber Alles crowd to be very troublesome, thinking that, gosh, it is all sweetness and light down there at JSC, when it's a bear-knuckled bureaucracy like anything else.

By the way, Andrew Sullivan quoted the same New Republic passage on July 17 without noticing (or at least without mentioning) the substitution.

Here's what bears really do with their knuckles in political encounters, apparently:

A bear may 'pop' its jaws or swat the ground while blowing or snorting. It may lunge toward you or 'bluff' charge in an attempt to motivate you to leave - usually stopping well short of contact. These are defensive behaviours, signalling you are too close. Remain calm and increase your distance from the bear.

I find that this is good advice in most bureaucracies as well.

Back at reason online, there are some pretty good jokes in the comments on Sullum's post.


Posted by Mark Liberman at July 22, 2004 02:25 PM