A bull who carries his own china shop around with him.

jiamajia

Senior Member
Mandarin
George Will, declaring that Gingrich and Mitt Romney are “too risky to anoint today,” wrote in the Washington Post that Gingrich is “a bull who carries his own china shop around with him.”

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What does the red quoted sentence mean? Thank you.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    If someone behaves like a bull in a china shop, they crash around wildly causing damage and chaos. The quoted sentence is an original variation on that.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I would assume it means the same as He is an accident waiting to happen, Jiamajia.
    Like a bull in a china shop = 'extremely clumsy', 'extremely accident-prone'. A (literal) bull who carried his own china shop around with him would be a 'walking disaster area'.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    A bull in a china shop breaks thing just by moving around - in a field, it is not destructive. I think a key point is that Newt is self-destructive no matter where he is - that is the variation on the old saying that Will is implying.
     

    jiamajia

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you everyone for the replies. But how do I interpret 'carries his own china shop around with him'? Does it mean he has a temperament of ruining his own china shop (Republican chance to win back the White House)?
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Does it mean he has a temperament of ruining his own china shop (Republican chance to win back the White House)?
    Yes, but it is even more general than that. It is a comment about the person. He is a disaster waiting to happen, and it will....

    GF..

    Try searching on "He is a disaster waiting to happen".
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you everyone for the replies. But how do I interpret 'carries his own china shop around with him'? Does it mean he has a temperament of ruining his own china shop (Republican chance to win back the White House)?
    I think Will means that it's not just Newt's own china shop that's in danger....
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    Mr. Gingrich is so habitually and consistently destructive that he can't avoid breaking things/causing problems by getting out of the metaphorical "china shop," and you can't prevent him from causing problems by taking him out of the metaphorical "china shop," because he "carries his own china shop around with him." He's going to break valuable china no matter what anyone else does to stop him.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    I love this phrase and am going to look our for opportunities to use it!

    I think it suits someone who cannot avoid causing big trouble, and maybe suggets that he actively seeks to create havoc.
     

    Pertinax

    Senior Member
    BrE->AuE
    I'm not sure that it originated with Churchill. Churchill is usually credited with saying it of John Foster Dulles, who was Eisenhower's Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959. But Newsweek for Apr 10, 1950 contained:
    British wits at The Hague last week characterized Defense Secretary Louis Johnson as "the only bull who carries his own china shop with him."

    William Sansom, writing around that time, wrote something similar which might have inspired it (but I'm not sure of the date he wrote the original short story):
    He was trapped, a monster wreathed in glass filament, a bull in his own china shop.
     
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