U.S. Health Bill in the Red Zone

New York Times, February 3, 2010, by Peter Baker

“Stumping for Jobs Plan, Obama Pushes Health Bill”, Nashua, New Hampshire”:

President Obama on a road trip ( he”hit the road” ) early in February promoting “his new job-creation program, described as his No. 1 priority, but refused to abandon his embattled health care legislation, vowing to ‘punch it through’ resistance in Congress….

‘We had to go into overtime’, Mr. Obama said.  ‘But we are now in the red zone.  That’s exactly right  We’re in the red zone. We’ve got to punch it through.”

The correspondent, Peter Baker, used one metaphor, “hit the road” which is in such common usage that it is almost standard American English, but not quite.  However, in Mr. Baker’s article, President Obama has used several metaphors : ” overtime“, a metaphor used in many sports when at the end of regulation time the score is tied;  “punch it through“,  a fighting/boxing term used in football in conjunction with an American football term: the red zone.  The red zone identifies the area on a football field close to the defendant’s goal line which the team carrying the ball must reach to score a goal.

The red zone, a rather new metaphor, is now commonly used.   Although perhaps used by coaches and players to determine plays on a shortened field, its usage has increased since TV coverage superimposed a red color from the 20 yard line to the goal.  There is even a “Red Zone” deodorant.  In this case, health care legislation has been studied by the U.S. Congress for months in both the House and the Senate.  It is now considered overtime by President Obama. Though considered flawed by many, the Democratic Party, President Obama’s party, would like to pass (“punch through”) the legislation.

President Obama, a sports fan, has used metaphors, as have many, to emphasize his concerns in concrete, every day terms.


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