I was listening to a very serious commentary on the Fiscal Cliff issue on television when I heard the commentator say that he had been talking with a prominent member of the House of Representatives who said that there were “50 people in the House he believed God gave a goose for.” (paraphrased from an elderly memory) I employed my recently-acquired technology skills in replaying it and, sure enough, it was something like that. He clearly used the term God gave a goose.
I have never heard that idiom before. It amused me, so I looked it up and found that the actual reference is to an idiom that says “He ain’t got the brains that God gave a goose.”
The interesting thing I found in researching this “redneck” comment is that commentators online are more concerned about protecting the reputation of geese than they are in repeating the idiom. There are those who point out the wisdom geese have in the way they create their “v” shaped formation to fly South in the winter and back in the Spring. They seem to know about wind patterns and aerodynamics which help them in their flight.
And then there was the person who wrote a blog about the way geese preen themselves and remove the clutter that has gathered inside their feathers so that they are less burdened by unwanted weight and irritating pests. She writes:
“When I was a kid a favorite saying was “He/she doesn’t have the sense that God gave the goose.” Well, the new year is coming and my 2008 resolution is to keep birdyboo’s geese in mind. I plan to spend more time preening my mind. In other words, I plan to start having the sense that God gave the goose.”*
I like geese. They have good qualities, including beauty, about them. But they also leave a horrible mess wherever they choose to spend a few hours on their snow bird trips. Dock owners, for instance, do everything they can to get rid of them. But I have to agree that they may be the victims of unwarranted harassment by this idiom.
When applied to the intransigent members of the House of Representatives, however, I welcome the idiom’s use. The 50ish members who refuse to budge from their ultra-conservative perspectives seem to be incapable of thinking intelligently about what is important for the nation. They are so caught up in their own ideological issues that they are blind to the need for compromise and collaboration. In doing so, they may just drive this nation over the proverbial cliff, the results of which are not pretty.
Indeed, they may not have the sense that God gave the goose.
Photo Credit: Jim Nelson