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Lap dog
What is a lap dog, as in "you're just his lap dog"?
[ 2008-10-14 11:38 ]

Lap dog

Reader question:

What is a lap dog, as in "you're just his lap dog"?

My comments:

A lap dog is a dog, a small pet dog, small enough to sit on its owner's lap.

And petted enough, of course, to be allowed to do so. The lap dog is docile and obedient. In other words it doesn't snarl at its master, let alone bite.

That's lap dog as a dog, and a good dog it is too.

Lap dog can be a person, someone who's totally subservient to his master. The lap dog as a person, however, carries derogative connotations. To label a person a lap dog is similar to calling them a poodle (another docile dog with curly hair – if you're somebody's poodle, you always do what the other person tells you to do), a lackey (a manservant who follows his master around, doing what he's told) or, in Mao's terminology, a running dog (The Great Chairman used to call his enemies "the running dog of imperialism").

Or a yes man (who answers "yes" to every command).

Or Sancho Panza, if you really want to sound hip and up to date. That's what commentators have been calling Sarah Palin, the running mate of John McCain for the White House. George Will first mocked Palin as McCain's "female Sancho Panza" (See example below). It stuck like a lipstick (see my previous column Lipstick on the Campaign Trail, September 23) and the term has since been picked up by commentators everywhere. Sancho Panza is Don Quixote's servant, body guard and apprentice.

Don Quixote?

Ah well, never mind. Here I'll give one recent media example of each and every term, except the running dog (no-one seems to be using the term any more - let's face it, nobody will put it better than The Great Helmsman did ^-^).

1. lap dog:

This week, the media continued to bend over backwards to repeat whatever narrative McCain wants them to. He even refurnished his airplane with a VIP section for the most obedient reporters.

Top McCain aide Mark Salter said "'only the good reporters' would get to sit in the specially-configured section for interviews. 'You'll have to earn it,' he said." So how can these reporters "earn" a seat? Never challenge the Senator.

- The Lap Dog Express, dailykos.com, July 05, 2008.

2. poodle:

To be or not to be a poodle. That was the question and U.S. President George W Bush answered that Britain's Tony Blair was a faithful friend, but nobody's pet.

"The prime minister is sometimes, perhaps unfairly, characterized in Britain as your poodle," began the questioner at a joint appearance by the two leaders Friday at the White House. "I was wondering if that's the way you may see your relationship?"

Blair broke in: "Don't answer 'yes' to that question," he mockingly admonished Bush, prompting laughter.

However, the U.S. leader was visibly not amused by the question.

Glowering, Bush responded that Blair was a strong, capable leader who "made a decision because he wanted to do a duty to secure the people of Great Britain."

- Bush says Blair isn't his poodle, Japantoday.com, November 13, 2004.

3. lackey:

If one looks in depth into McCain's statement on foreign affairs, they reveal how buffoonish he truly is. He has often confused Sunni Muslims with Shi'ite Muslims and has had to be reminded of the differences not once but several times by his lackey Joe Lieberman. He's had to be told that Iran is not training future members of Al Qaeda.

- John McCain: A Buffoon, elm.washcoll.edu, October 3, 2008.

4. yes man:

It might be easier to have a yes-man or -woman as vice president, but with so much at stake for the country and the world, such a person might allow a troublesome decision to go unchallenged.

- Picking vice president is a matter of ethics, StarTribune.com, August 1, 2008.

5. Sancho Panza:

In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency, McCain finds it galling that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican. Before Tuesday night's uneventful event, gall was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign's closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person.

This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. Many millions of American households are gingerly opening envelopes containing reports of the third-quarter losses in their 401(k) and other retirement accounts -- telling each household its portion of the nearly $2 trillion that Americans' accounts have recently shed. In this context, the McCain-Palin campaign's attempt to get Americans to focus on Obama's Chicago associations seem surreal -- or, as a British politician once said about criticism he was receiving, "like being savaged by a dead sheep."

- George F. Will: For McCain, what if this is as good as it gets? StarTribune.com, October 8, 2008.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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