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Carry water? 俯首听命

中国日报网 2022-07-05 11:05


Reader question:

Please explain “carry water” in this sentence: “I don’t carry water for Trump or any other politician.”

My comments:

Donald Trump, obviously, former President of the United States.

The speaker means to say that he or she is no lackey of Trump. They don’t do Trump’s bidding – without questioning.

According to The Word Detective website, “carry water” is American in origin:

“To carry someone’s water” seems to have appeared in the late 1970s in the figurative sense in which it is now most often used, and almost certainly sprang from sports, where the position of “water boy,” charged with catering to the players’ comfort (including supplying them with water and the like), is the lowest rung in the team hierarchy.

Being a member “in the lowest rung in the team hierarchy”, the water boy understandably does his job obediently and without objection.

The business of the water boy, of course, is more or less innocent. In politics, however, the phrase “carry water for someone” is not so innocuous. Instead, it has bad or negative social connotations. If one carries water for a politician, it means they’re subservient to that politician and are uncritical of his actions. They just carry out orders without questioning whether those orders are wrong or unjust. Moreover, they do it willingly as they’re probably in cohorts with the master anyway, know what they’re doing is immoral, wrong or downright illegal.

Politics being politics, i.e. not the cleanest of all trades, it is perhaps just as well. I mean, it’s not surprising.

A lot of people, for example, helped Donald Trump before, during and after the January 6 insurrection, even though they all know that it is unconstitutional and illegal to try to retain the presidency by a violent coup or by overturning the results of an election.

In this case, they all carried or continue to carry water for Trump.

All right, here are media examples of people carrying water for someone else (almost always in political circles):

1. Bashing “liberal Hollywood” and out-of-touch celebrities has become a favorite sport among conservatives. But those seeking to defend the Bush administration in light of the recent Torture Report – and that’s mostly conservatives – could hardly have had a better ally than the images of torture in TV and movies, particularly in the face of “ticking-bomb scenarios.”

Fox’s “24,” naturally comes to mind, and the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which was criticized for its depiction of torture as a likely asset in locating Osama Bin Laden. Surprisingly, director Kathryn Bigelow seemed tongue-tied when Jon Stewart benignly asked her about the film during a recent appearance promoting another project in the wake of the Torture Report’s conclusions.

The practice has been employed in other series as well – such as “Sons of Anarchy,” “Scandal” and “Homeland” – and countless movies, with the bad guys using it (see various Quentin Tarantino films) as well as the ostensible good guys.

Indeed, torture is used by both fictional heroes and villains, the main difference being that the former do so grudgingly, instead of sadistically, and, when the tables are turned, usually don’t give up information. “24’s” Jack Bauer, for example, took it as well as he dished it out, and James Bond was still cracking jokes while enduring a brutal beating in the most recent “Casino Royale.”

While the latest report called into question the efficacy of torture, as the Washington Post’s Terrence McCoy put it, “That’s not how it looks on TV. Harsh interrogation, as an effective means of eliciting crucial information, has become firmly entrenched in popular culture.”

Not only has torture become more frequent since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but the acceptance of those depictions in entertainment has been cited as a point of reference – and even an endorsement of the tactics.

A lengthy 2007 New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer about the politics of “24” emphasized a declaration by conservative talkradio host Laura Ingraham that its hero’s popularity was “as close to a national referendum that it’s O.K. to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we’re going to get.”

Mayer also noted that an advisory panel to the U.S. intelligence community studied the issue and concluded “most observers, even those within professional circles, have unfortunately been influenced by the media’s colorful (and artificial) view of interrogation as almost always involving hostility.”

Given all of that, it seems reasonable to ask whether pop culture – along with news operations whose “News Alert” headlines stoked post-Sept. 11 fears – has been partially complicit in cultivating the conditions that allowed torture to be deemed a viable option.

Since one of the more discussed enhanced interrogation techniques involved waterboarding, Hollywood was at least one of the constituencies that, wittingly or not, helped carry the CIA’s water.

- The ‘24’ Effect: How ‘Liberal Hollywood’ Carried Water For Torture, Variety.com, December 14, 2014.

2. Former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday defended the Republican National Committee’s resolution describing the events of Jan. 6, 2021 as “legitimate political discourse,” despite the attack resulting in five deaths, dozens of injured police officers, and some rioters calling for Pence himself to be hanged or otherwise executed.

The resolution was not “talking about people that engaged in violence against persons or property that day,” Pence told a group of Republicans at Stanford University, according to The Washington Post. Instead, he claimed, it was referring to “a whole range of people that have been set upon” by the House Jan. 6 committee. The resolution censured Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), both of whom serve on the committee, for “persecuting” those the resolution dubbed “ordinary citizens.”

Pence’s comments echoed RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s attempt to justify the resolution’s wording. McDaniel claimed it referred to nonviolent GOP activists in several states, such as those who are now under investigation for sending forged election certificates to the government in an effort to overturn Joe Biden’s win. Very legitimate!

Pence’s willingness to give his party bosses cover despite their fealty to former President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked Pence since the insurrection, may have something to do with the fact that he hasn’t ruled out a 2024 presidential run. He’s going to need the RNC’s help to win the party’s nomination, and he made sure to show his appreciation on Thursday.

“I just don’t know too many people around the country, including my friends at the RNC, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, who have any different view than it was a tragic day, that the people that ransacked the Capitol were wrong and should be held to account in the law,” he added. “And I think they made a very clear statement, after the fact, that said, ‘We were talking about what’s happening in Washington today, with the Jan. 6 committee’ … and I believe them. They’re good people, and I believe that’s what they meant.”

If that’s what the RNC really meant, it’s what they would have written. Instead, they carried Trump’s water by portraying what happened on Jan. 6 as legitimate and the work of the Jan. 6 committee, with which Pence’s staff has been cooperating, as an illegitimate “persecution.”

- Mike Pence, Who Was Targeted by Capitol Rioters, Defends Resolution Calling Jan. 6 ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’, RollingStone.com, February 18, 2022.

3. Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau urged the removal of Scott Kaspar, one of his rivals in the June 28 Republican Primary election for nomination in the 6th District Congressional district race, from a position on the Village Pension Fund Board at Monday’s (April 4, 2022) village board meeting,

Kaspar was appointed to the board by Pekau back when Pekau backed him in the race for Orland Township Supervisor, but Kaspar has since had a falling out with Pekau recognizing that the mayor is a backstabber whose word is unreliable and political actions are extremely self-serving.

Pekau has the sole power to appoint and remove individuals from the village’s various commissions but pretended to not want to be dragged into a political fight by claiming he wanted his trustees to decide if Kaspar should be removed.

Pekau’s action is another example of how the mayor is using his office, which is funded by the taxpayers of Orland Park, to benefit his sluggish candidacy in the 6th District race for Congress. Kaspar has mounted a formidable campaign that could easily eclipse Pekau, who is one of the most disliked mayors Orland Park has ever had.


See for yourself that Pekau is lying and that his minions, who carry his water like Cindy Katsenes, is doing this purely for political reasons, for their candidacies, putting “Politics Over People,” and making a mockery of Pekau’s empty political party slogan, “People Over Politics.”

Kaspar wrote on his website: “We just released a video where I am putting a focus on the real problem of crime in Illinois’ 6th Congressional district and indeed all the Chicago Suburbs. The failures of Chicago and the negligence of Cook County Prosecutor Kim Foxx and some of our local officials are creating a crisis we must address now.”

- Pekau uses position on Village board to undermine political rival Kaspar, SuburbanChicagoLand.com, April 5, 2022.


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.

(作者:张欣   编辑:丹妮)


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