Measuring the Drapes

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Oct 23 14:17:51 UTC 2008

On Thu, Oct 23, 2008 at 9:30 AM, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:
>        The Washington Post today has an article on political references
> to presidential candidates measuring the drapes for the White House as a
> way to criticize overconfidence,
> 2203446.html.  The Post takes it back to 1980.  Can we do better?

Shows up earlier with "curtains".

Chicago Tribune, Jan. 4, 1976, p.I12/3 [profile of Donald Rumsfeld]
Kissinger had quipped that he found it necessary to announce that he was signing
on with Ford through '76 because "Something had to be done. Mrs. (Elliott)
Richardson and Mrs. Laird were running in and out of my office measuring it for
curtains, and Rumsfeld too was coming in to measure."
Hartford Courant, Dec. 22, 1978, p. C27/1
[UPI story, describing Canadian political cartoon]
Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau sits scowling in an armchair at home as
Conservative Party leader Joe Clark -- his wife Maureen busying herself in the
background -- leans over and says, "We have come to measure the curtains."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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