Painting themselves into a corner?

中国日报网 2017-08-11 11:13



Painting themselves into a corner?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: Republicans have painted themselves into a corner on social issues that makes them look less compassionate to voters.

My comments:

In America, the Republicans are known to be more conservative than the Democrats, who are generally perceived to be more liberal in their views, i.e. more tolerant and, generally speaking, progressive.

For example, many Republicans are against abortion, gay marriage and transgender equality, etc. etc. Yet all these social issues are emotional issues. That is, they evoke strong personal emotions. Imagine yourself to be a woman wanting an abortion, or a homosexual wanting to get married, or a transgender man who wants to join the army…

Yes, put yourself in their shoes and you get the point.

Anyways, because Republicans are conservative and inflexible (which is why they’re conservative), they may find themselves isolated and helpless when it comes to voter relations. I mean, voters who are pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-transgender equality will likely find the Republican Party to be less compassionate than expected.

And due to the fact that they’re conservative and inflexible, there’s no way out.

This, I think, is why Republicans are said to have painted themselves into a corner.

Painting oneself into a corner, you see, is a colorful American expression. It originates from people who do carelessly paint themselves into a corner – a corner of the room in which they are painting the floor. They bow down and walk backwards when they do this, smearing paint of a particular color onto the floor and before they know, they have backed their way into a corner, the last corner of the room.

There, the careless floor painters find themselves marooned and unable to make a move – unable to make a move, that is, without walking back onto – and damage – the freshly painted floor.

Hence, metaphorically speaking, he or she who paints themselves into a corner puts themselves into an isolated and helpless position, causing themselves unnecessary problems.

Unnecessary problems, mind you, for the injury is self-inflicted. Had they been just a little more careful and attentive, the trouble could’ve been easily avoided.

All right, here are a few media examples of people who have, over the years, found themselves in such a predicament:

1. Autumn Jackson was raised on the notion that her father was Bill Cosby, her grandmother testified today in Jackson’s trial for extortion in federal court in New York.

Lois Maxfield testified for the defense that she first told Jackson about Cosby when she was five or six years old, and also warned the girl that, “As long as she didn’t tell anyone about it, he would take care of her mother. He would take care of his responsibilities.”

Cosby testified last week that he paid Shawn Thompson (or Upshaw, as he knew her) $100,000 over the years to keep her quiet about their affair.

Judge Barbara Jones ruled at the onset of the trial that whether or not Cosby is Jackson’s father is not relevant to determining whether Jackson tried to extort money from the entertainer.

Nonetheless, her defense is hitting hard on the notion that she believed Cosby was her father, and her intention was to negotiate a settlement of her “moral and legal” rights as a daughter.

The grandmother testified that Cosby took an interest in Jackson from an early age. He wanted to move the child away from Thompson when she had drug problems, Maxfield said, and more recently paid for Maxfield and Jackson to come to New York for a taping of his television show, then go to Florida to attend college.

“She was very excited to see him,” Maxfield said of the New York trip. “It was the first time she had seen her fahter in person. The jury watched a video of the meeting with Jackson holding a toy teddy bear a smiling Cosby had seemingly just given her. “This is the lucky bear,” he says.

Earlier Monday, the government presented its final piece of evidence in the trial--a tape of Thompson, urging Jackson’s accused partner in crime, Jose Medina, to lay off their “blackmail” of the entertainer.

Thompson called Medina on January 17, after Cosby's attorney told her that Jackson had threatened the entertainer. A tape of the call was found in Medina’s safe-deposit box and, in it, Thompson can be heard saying, “Autumn has painted herself into a corner...She has tried to blackmail him.” Referring to Jackson's threat in a letter to Cosby to sell her story to the Globe tabloid, Thompson said, “That’s extortion when you do it like that.” Medina and Jackson were arrested the next day.

- Cosby Is Your Dad, Grandmother Told Jackson,, July 22, 1997.

2. Clive James has confessed feeling embarrassment over being alive one year after predicting his imminent death from terminal leukaemia.

In a piece published in The Guardian, James reflects on a poem he wrote for the New Yorker last year titled Japanese Maple, in which he stated, confidently, that he would be dead before the maple tree in his garden lost its leaves in autumn.

But now he says he fears he has “written himself into a corner”.

“Winter arrived, there has been a whole other summer, and now the maple is just starting to do its flaming thing all over again, with me shyly watching,” he writes.

The 76-year-old author is writing a weekly column for the newspaper on living with leukaemia.

- Clive James says being alive is ‘embarrassing’ one year after predicting his death from leukaemia,, October 10, 2015.

3. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric who has President Donald Trump’s ear, told CNBC on Wednesday that an impeachment would crush the stock market.

“An impeachment proceeding would blow the market away,” Welch said on “Squawk Box.”

Welch also said Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director was a “rookie mistake.” He added, “You don’t make any friends doing it the way [Trump] did it.”

“I think without question we have a guy that’s on the right agenda with crappy management practices,” Welch said, giving the president a “D minus” on his management skills.

Trump needs to unite all the different factions in the White House, get to the bottom of the media leaks, and get back to his message of “Make America Great Again,” he added.

While no fan Barack Obama’s policies, Welch said the former president ran a tight ship. “They spoke with one voice.”

The botched Comey firing is an example of Trump’s inexperience in running a bureaucracy, the executive chairman of Jack Welch Management Institute said.

Welch said Trump painted himself into a corner on Comey because he praised the former FBI director when he kept Comey over from the Obama administration.

The president should have loved Comey “on the way out” as much as “he loved him on the way in,” Welch said, instead of calling the former FBI director incompetent.

Welch declined to comment directly on reports late Tuesday that Trump allegedly asked former Comey to “let go” of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

- Jack Welch: Impeachment of Trump would ‘blow the market away’,, May 17, 2017.


About the author:

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

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)



















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