And, you know, we’ve seen some indications from the Russians as well as the Syrians today, uh, that they may be willing to look at the prospect of getting those weapons under control, perhaps even, uh, international control, and getting them out of there, where they could be vulnerable to use by anybody. And that’s something that we’re going to run to ground over the next couple of days.
(By the way, I assume the Fox intern who transcribed the interview got extra brownie points for ever “uh” he or she could stick in.)According to the OED, “run to ground” is a variant of “go to ground,” both meaning (literally) to burrow into a hole in the earth, or, figuratively, to withdraw from public view or lie low. Something or someone can also be run to the ground, meaning worn out through overuse. Obama seems to have meant something different, more like “explore in every possible way.”
As I noted last week in a post on the Chronicle of Higher Education blog Lingua Franca, one of the distressing aspects the current debate over intervention in Syria is the way it’s led metaphors to run amok, including “red line,” “boots on the ground,” and “shot across the bow.” Now we seem to have come to the stage where metaphors are given new meaning, just because they, uh, sound good.