Lame Duck Day, on February 6th, honors anyone who is on their way out of their jobs or their elected office.
Political lame ducks are in the enviable (?) position of not facing a future election so you may see them:
- Pardon friends
- Make cushy presidential appointments
- Veto bills
- Make executive orders
- Take long weekends
And, possibly, act on their crush on that cute intern or lobbyist.
But it’s not all favors for funsies.
Homeland Security is the result of a lame duck congress meeting. Wars have been started and a president impeached under the auspices of the feeble fowl.
This was recognized in the United States back in 1933 when the 20th amendment was ratified. This shortened the time that Presidents, Senators and Representatives spend in office after an election.
Judges signed in by John Adams on his way out were known as the Midnight Judges because Adams supposedly signed their appointments at midnight before President Thomas Jefferson‘s inauguration. He fit the bill with 16 new federal judges.
U.S. President Bill Clinton was widely criticized for issuing 140 pardons and other acts of executive clemency on his last day in office, including two former close colleagues, donors, fellow Democratic members and his own half-brother!
Russia’s UK embassy trolled President Obama on Twitter back in December 2016, calling him a Lame Duck. They totally quacked it.
President Obama expels 35 🇷🇺 diplomats in Cold War deja vu. As everybody, incl 🇺🇸 people, will be glad to see the last of this hapless Adm. pic.twitter.com/mleqA16H8D
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) December 29, 2016
Obama embraced his lame duckiness with a very funny video about navigating life after the presidency. It includes challenges like trying to get a driver’s license and celebrating his 347th round of golf (that year). It’ll quack you up, I promise.
Bulls, bears, lame ducks
In the 1700’s a Lame Duck was used to describe those stock brokers who failed to pay off their debts. Later, it was extended to include bankrupt businessmen who continued to do business, even though they had no money to pay employees or suppliers. The first known mention of the term in writing was made by Horace Walpole, in a letter of 1761 to Sir Horace Mann:
‘Do you know what a Bull and a Bear and Lame Duck are?’
In 1791 Mary Berry wrote of the Duchess of Devonshire’s loss of L50,000 in stocks, ‘the conversation of the town’ that her name was to be ‘posted up as a lame duck’.
Literally, it refers to a duck which can’t keep up with the flock, making it an easy for predators pekin the right one.
How to Celebrate
Support any lame ducks you may have around you. If you one personally, throw them a going away party.
If you ARE a duck with ambulatory issues, may I suggest these comfy shoes?
Or just wing it.
If you know of any unusual or interesting dates, do please quack on and let us know.
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.