Red meat speech?

中国日报网 2018-01-26 11:48



Red meat speech?Reader question:

Please explain “red meat” in this headline: Trump focuses on taxes in red meat speech before conservatives.

My comments:

Red meat refers to meat that is raw and red in color. Beef, for example, is a typical red meat, as in contrast to white meat, such as chicken meat which is lighter in hue.

Beef is considered a stronger meat than chicken meat. That’s why some devout vegetarians can eat a little chicken meat or even pork but cannot tolerate beef at all.

But among meat eaters, red meat is sometimes treasured as it seems more substantial. A full belly of red meat, for example, will take one farther afield than a belly full of bread and cabbages.

Or so it seems – as more and more people realize that in the long run vegetable-heavy diets are actually better in helping them build stamina. Vegetable-heavy diets are much healthier as well.

But anyways, returning to our main talking point, red meat represents raw, basic food that serves our basic appetite. Our basic appetite represents our basic needs, and metaphorically speaking our lowest needs.

Imagine feeding red meat to a hungry dog, and you get the picture.

So, therefore, in our example, in modifying “speech”, “red meat” means this: (Donald) Trump’s words may be raw, crude and unrefined, but they are exactly what the conservatives want to hear.

No doubt, Trump tells them he will cut taxes.

All right, here are more examples of red meat in political speech or rhetoric:

1. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) received a lukewarm reception from conservatives gathered for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, despite delivering a speech full of conservative red meat.

The Senate minority leader’s address came as he faces a fierce primary challenge from his right flank and frustration from conservatives with his role in a number of contentious policy debates this year, most recently his vote to raise the debt limit.

He arrived on stage accompanied by retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), whom he thanked for his service to the movement with the gift of a rifle — and framed the rest of his speech as an homage to the “truths” Coburn has told during his time in office, and pledged to make the Senate a place Coburn would “be proud of” if he’s the Senate majority leader next year.

But despite frequent attacks on Democrats, his address received only scattered, polite applause.

- McConnell gets lukewarm CPAC reception,, March 6, 2014.

2. Red meat is newer than one might suppose; our earliest known citation comes from 1792, found in George Colman’s play The Surrender of Calais: “Here’s meat, neighbours; fine raw red meat, to turn the tide of tears from your eyes, and make your mouths water.” Red meat has since taken on the figurative sense of “something substantial that can satisfy a basic need or appetite.”

Although it had long been thought that the newer sense of red meat entered our parlance in the 1960s, recent research has found that the use is older than that, dating back to the early 20th century. It originated (or at least achieved widespread use) in the motion picture industry:

An exchange manager recently complained to me if the lack of sensational subjects. His actual words were “They [the public] want red meat and they want it raw.”
—The Nickelodeon, 7 Jan. 1911

He told how ministers, representative citizens, had condemned the motion picture shows, and when he investigated it—the real red meat of the situation—the principal objection seemed to be because the price of admission was cheap.
—The Moving Picture News, 17 February 1912

By the 1920s, the term started to appear in advertising copy for films. An ad in 1928 for the movie Greased Lightning described it as “The Red Meat sort of Picture that You’ll Remember for Weeks,” and a 1926 newspaper ad for The Rainmaker called it “A strong red-meat love drama.”

In the 1940s red meat entered the political lexicon, with its meaning taking on some additional shades of “inflammatory.”

He added the reminder that the leaders of the other Great Powers—Churchill, Stalin and Chiang Kai-Shek—are all older than Roosevelt, as are most of our own warrior chieftains, whom the Republican candidates nevertheless has promised to retain in command. It was a plate of red meat the temporary chairman served as a foretaste of the campaign to come.
—Daily Boston Globe, 20 July 1944

Most of the audiences—that at Salt Lake City was an exception—were looking for red meat in Dewey’s carefully reasoned discussions of world affairs. Since he disdained mudslinging they seized upon his withering treatment of bureaucracy and governmental incompetence as a satisfactory substitute.
—The Sun [Baltimore, MD], 4 October 1948

His success, making even Ted Cruz look mainstream, baffles many in the United States and abroad, who are used to seeing American politicians walk a careful line between red-meat populism and mainstream respectability.
—The New York Times, 14 April 2016

The announcement last week that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill was, of course, red meat to those who see political correctness lurking in every corner of the land.
—Florida Times Union, 24 April 2016

This political sense appears to be gaining steam, although it is as yet unclear whether or not the inflammatory political sense will be strong enough to demand a separate entry in the dictionary. Some lexicographers will probably say that “inflammatory political speech” should be split from “something substantial that can satisfy a basic need,” while other will argue that all general figurative uses should be lumped together. For those who work on dictionaries, such quibbles are our red meat.

- The Politics of Red Meat,, April 14, 2016.

3. Donald Trump delivered Iowans a plate of red meat policy talk Tuesday, highlighting threats to family farms, the Second Amendment and national security while avoiding the issue of his Democratic rival's health.

“Prosperity will rise, poverty will recede and wages will finally begin to grow and they will grow rapidly,” he told a crowd of about 1,600 at a rally in Clive. “If they don’t, I’ll be very disappointed in myself.”

The rally marked Trump’s fourth trip to Iowa since securing the Republican nomination in July as he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vie for the state’s six electoral votes. He was last in the state Aug. 27 attending U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride fundraiser and echoed many of the same sentiments Tuesday. Clinton has campaigned once in Iowa since earning the nomination, but has seen Iowans at campaign stops on the Illinois side of the Quad Cities and in Omaha.

- Trump delivers red meat rally in Clive,, September 13, 2016.


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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