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Not holding your breath?没抱希望

中国日报网 2021-01-26 11:28


Reader question:

Please explain “holding my breath” in this sentence: “I hope they win the title this year, but I’m not holding my breath.”

My comments:

This means the speaker doesn’t expect it to happen. He or she doesn’t expect them to win.

This could be someone talking about their favorite sports team, for example. For example, they could be talking about a team that’s been pretty good and competitive but have come up short year after year. Here, what the speaker tries to convey is that they hope their team wins the title this year, but they’re not holding their breath, i.e. they are not waiting anxiously for this to happen.

They won’t hold their breath because of past disappointments, obviously.

Holding their breath?

This expression derives from the fact that when we’re anxious, worried or under pressure, we tend to hold our breath, often unconsciously.

Hence, by extension and as a metaphor, when people say they’re not holding their breath that something will happen, they mean to say that they’re not going to suffer any pains to wait for it to happen.

In other words, they’re not waiting with bated breath for it to happen.

What they’re really saying is, of course, that it’s unlikely to happen.

All right?

All right. Here are recent media examples of holding or not holding your breath, figuratively speaking:

1. It’s another historic hump day in 2021.

After the riots at the U.S. Capitol exactly one week ago, House Democrats wasted no time in impeaching President Donald Trump. The vote to impeach Trump was 232 to 197. Trump makes history for being the first president to be impeached for a second time.

And in one more week, Trump will no longer be president. What a legacy.

The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach Trump for the second time, a move that drew support from 10 Republicans who agreed that Trump incited violence at the Capitol last week.

The article of impeachment charges the president with “incitement of insurrection” for “spreading false statements” about the election and challenging the Electoral College results. Trump will leave power as the first president in the nation’s 245-year history to be impeached twice.

Now what?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide when to transmit the article to the Senate, which must either dismiss the charge or hold a trial. At least 67 of the 100 senators are needed for conviction which would require Trump’s removal from office.

But don’t hold your breath on a speedy Senate trial. It likely won’t start until after Trump leaves office. The Senate is currently on a recess break and is set to reconvene Tuesday – one day before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

- OnPolitics: Trump’s ‘Twinpeachment’, USAToday.com, January 13, 2021.

2. The popular 1990s sitcom “Seinfeld” was often described as a television show “about nothing” -- a characterization that could easily apply to the Republican Party today.

The party of Ronald Reagan -- once a stalwart of fiscal conservatism, free trade and hawkish foreign policy -- is now lost in a wilderness of its own making.

Over the past four years, Republicans who have supported and enabled President Donald Trump have been more interested in retaining their hold on power than standing up for any principles or coherent policies. With no one to stop him, Trump, the only US president who has been impeached twice, has completely remade the GOP in his own disgraceful and pathetic image.

After Trump supporters broke into the US Capitol last week in a desperate attempt to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory, 10 House Republicans, including Rep. Liz Cheney, broke ranks Wednesday to impeach Trump.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who whipped Senate Republicans into line and enabled Trump's wild behavior, has indicated that he, too, has had enough. While it remains to be seen whether he will vote to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection, he believes impeachment might make it easier to get rid of Trump and oust Trumpism from the party, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Some Republicans have shown a willingness to press the reset button in attempt to remove the stain of Trump from their party, but there is no going back. For every Liz Cheney, there are more than a dozen elected GOP officials who are still committed to Trump.


Consider the following: While the public’s opinion of Trump has been remarkably consistent over the past four years, the political insurrectionists who invaded the US Capitol last week succeeded in dragging Trump's standing to a staggering low. A recent Quinnipiac poll conducted after the attack shows that just 33% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as President. Nevertheless, 71% of Republican voters say they still approve of Trump, according to Quinnipiac.

This presents an interesting conundrum for McConnell -- how will he get a popular but toxic ex-President out of national politics and away from the Republican Party? One might expect McConnell to use the guise of an impeachment trial to force Trump out of politics and remove the threat of a 2024 presidential run. But we’re not holding our breath.

- The GOP has become the party that stands for nothing, CNN.com, January 15, 2021.

3. Shepard Smith has opened up about why he decided to leave Fox News in 2019 after 23 years at the network.

The former Shepard Smith Reporting anchor and current CNBC host got candid about his tenure at the cable news network in an interview with journalist Christiane Amanpour that will air Tuesday night on PBS. “If you feel like the Fox viewers were getting mis- or disinformation, I was there to make sure that they got it straight,” Smith said in the clip, which Amanpour tweeted on Tuesday. “I stuck with it for as long as I could. And at some point I realized I’ve reached a point of diminishing returns and I left.”

When Amanpour pressed Smith as to whether he “accept[s]” that Fox News “perpetuated so many of the divisions, the lies, the conspiracies” of the Trump presidency, Smith spoke abstractly about journalists who “lead people astray” and expressed his distaste for them.

“I feel the same way about that now that I did then. My goal was to just keep the blinders on and to do my job to the best of my ability,” he said. “Opine all you like, but if you're going to opine, begin with the truth and go from there. It’s that deviation from that that has caused me the greatest concern. And I believe that when people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society, and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing.”

He added, “I slept very well. I don’t know how some people sleep at night because I know there are a lot of people who have propagated the lies and pushed them forward over and over again who are smart enough and educated enough to know better. And I hope that at some point, those who have done us harm as a nation — and, I might add, as a world — will look around and realize what they’ve done. But I’m not holding my breath.”

Smith left his position as chief news anchor and managing editor of breaking news at Fox in 2019, a personal decision that surprised many in the media world and even Fox colleagues. During his time at Fox, Smith frequently was targeted by President Trump, who called him “low ratings Shep Smith.”

Shepard Smith Opens Up About Leaving Fox News After 23 Years: “I Stuck With It for as Long as I Could”, HollywoodReporter.com, January 19, 2021.



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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