Alan Simpson on the Deficit: “Give Them the Green Weenie”

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Alan Simpson, who was a senator from Wyoming and more recently a co-chair of the president's deficit commission (don't remember that? Neither does anybody in Washington) is renowned for his "colorful language." He reinforced that reputation recently by saying this on CNN:

We're going to get rid of all earmarks, all waste, fraud and abuse, all foreign aid, Air Force One, all congressional pensions . . . . That's just sparrow belch in the midst of the typhoon. That's about six, eight, ten percent of where we are. So, I'm waiting for the politician to get up and say, there's only one way to do this: you dig into the big four, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense. And anybody giving you anything different than that, you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat, and give them the green weenie.

Give them the green weenie. I was unfamiliar with this term, and unlike "sparrow belch" the context didn't help much. Research reveals that it probably derives from "The Green Weenie," a feature of Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games in the 1960s that was similar to the Steelers' "Terrible Towel" (although apparently more effective). It was invented by Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince. According to Wikipedia, "[t]he Green Weenie was a green plastic rattle in the shape of a hot dog, which when waved at opposing players, purportedly put a jinx on them. Conversely, when waved at Pirate players it allegedly bestowed good luck."

The Wikipedia article cites a 1966 Time magazine report on the operation of the Weenie:

When the Pirates played the Giants two weeks ago, Prince pointed a Weenie at Juan Marichal. Marichal won the game, 2-1, but next day he caught the third finger of his pitching hand in a car door and missed two scheduled turns on the mound. In Pittsburgh, the Pirates were trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 in the seventh inning when Prince's fellow announcer Don Hoak begged Bob to use the Weenie. "Not yet," said Prince. In the eighth inning, with Pittsburgh still behind by two runs, Prince finally waved the Weenie. The Pirates scored four runs and won the game 5-3. "Remember," said Prince to Hoak. "Never waste the power of the Green Weenie."

"Giving the Green Weenie" also appears in the Urban Dictionary, but its meaning there suggests that it has now morphed into something more obscene, or at least more explicitly obscene. I'm guessing that Simpson was thinking of the older definition. He did, though, recently refer to entitlement programs as "a cow with 310 million tits," so it's hard to be sure.