a game of musical chairs

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Senior Member

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., slammed the move and called the State Department's decision not to pursue disciplinary action "a game of musical chairs."
"Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll," said Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "It is now clear that the personnel actions taken by the [State] Department in response to the Benghazi terrorist attacks was more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a failure in leadership.

(This comes from Issa Blasts State Department 'Charade' After Benghazi Suspensions Lifted by By Melanie Batley in NEWSMAX on 20 Aug 2013.)

I don't understand the meaning of the bold part. Because there being one fewer chair than players in the game of muscial chairs, one person should miss a day on the payroll. Why does no one miss a single day on the payroll?

Thanks in advance!
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    Rep. Darrell Issa is not happy. He is very critical. His remarks are ironic.

    a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll,"= a game of musical chairs, that is corruptly designed so that nobody actually misses a single day on the State Department payroll," i.e. people have just been moved from one seat to another and nobody has been fired -> Nobody has been left without a seat.


    Senior Member
    American English
    When used as a metaphor, "musical chairs" refers to moving around and sitting in different places, not the elimination part of the game.

    It's saying that people were shifted around often, to avoid anyone noticing that no one was fired.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I think he's just talking about the part of the game where people go round and round and end up in different chairs. He's ignoring the detail that, in the real game, there's one too few chairs for all the people. It's a visual image of people changing jobs, and making a bit of a 'game' of it.

    edit: as pob14 says too
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