‘Gorilla Dust’ Joins White House Political Lexicon

Dec 2, 2011 5:08pm

Here’s a new one for Washington’s political lexicon:

“Pick your metaphor, window dressing, or gorilla dust …”

Gorilla dust is the image White House Press Secretary Jay Carney uses to disparage the political tussle between congressional Republicans and Democratic President Barack Obama over the payroll tax cut and his American Jobs Act.

Carney, a wordsmith trained in the colorful style of magazine writing during his formative years with Time, threw out the descriptive phrase during a Thursday briefing, and 24 hours later, Carney was called to account for the phrase.

“Gorilla dust is, as I understand it, a diversionary tactic that gorillas use when they are doing combat,” he explained to amused reporters. “They throw up dust. It’s a defensive measure to get people to be distracted or get their potential opponents to be distracted. ”

A Republican alternative to the president’s payroll tax legislation is what Carney derides as gorilla dust – a distraction.

A quick Google search turns up this on the website dougletongued.org, suggesting the imagery may be a perfect political fit:

“When two male gorillas confront each other, they’re too canny most of the time to actually fight, so they resort to the tried-and-true political tactic of intimidation. Both scurry about in a frenzy, grimacing menacingly, beating their chests and tossing clouds of dirt into the air. It’s a serious encounter, full of powerful and primitive energies, a test of testosterone. Soon one becomes convinced that the other could win the threatened physical engagement, and retreats. It’s called gorilla dust, and nations stir it up all the time.”

Unlike the current tussle in Washington, at least with  gorillas, one eventually backs down.

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