Please explain this headline: Trump is Putin’s ‘free chicken’. Free chicken?
This is still in the news.
Retired US Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman used “free chicken” to describe Donald Trump’s relationship to Russia, reports the Atlantic. Lieutenant Colonel is an officer in the army ranking above a major and below a colonel. Putin, of course, refers to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In fact, Vindman not only used “free chicken”, he explained it. I could not find the Atlantic story on my computer, but instead found a report on the Atlantic story via Yahoo.com. And here’s the “free chicken” nugget (Vindman: Trump is Putin’s ‘free chicken’, Yahoo.com, September 14, 2020):
“In the Army,” Vindman notes, “we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don't have to work for — it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”
See, it’s well explained. I have nothing more to add than pointing out this. Next time you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and see that they offer you two chicken wings for free, as part of a sales promotion, or equally likely likewise if you go to the McDonald’s and they offer you a bag of chicken nuggets for free, you’ll understand that “free chicken” is something that’s pretty real.
Metaphorically speaking, “free chicken” is similar to another expression, “free lunch”, a lunch that is free. You can have it without paying for it.
“Free lunch”, of course, is often used in the negative, in the form of: There’s no free lunch in this world.
If you don’t take it too literally, that is a true statement. There really is no free lunch in this world. Somehow, somebody somewhere is paying for it, one way or another.
In Trump’s case, the American people will be paying for Trump’s actions, in one form or another. And Trump probably knows this better than anyone, as he’s wont to boast that he knows it better than anyone on a variety of subjects, especially subjects he knows awfully little about.
Anyway, here’s the Yahoo.com report in full, plus two literal “free chicken” examples, as the proverbial “free chicken” is not a very popular expression (except, that is, in the American army):
1. In his first interview since testifying against President Trump during the impeachment trial earlier this year and subsequently leaving the U.S. Army after what he described as “a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation,” retired Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman used some colorful, poultry-based imagery to describe how he views Trump’s relationship to Russia.
The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg asked Vindman if he considers Trump a Russian intelligence asset. Vindman hedged a bit, instead labeling Trump as a “useful idiot” — which Goldberg notes is not a blunt insult, but a term commonly used to describe “dupes of authoritarian regimes” — and a “fellow traveler” of Putin, meaning he shares his Russian counterpart’s “loathing for Democratic norms.” That, Vindman said, “makes him an unwitting agent of Putin.”
He also said that if Russia does have “dirt” on Trump, as some of his critics have theorized, the Kremlin probably isn’t actively blackmailing him. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him,” Vindman said, adding that Trump looks up to Putin and wants to emulate him. Therefore, Moscow doesn’t actually have to exert much energy to get what they want out of the American president. “In the Army,” Vindman notes, “we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don't have to work for — it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.” And not many people are going to pass up free chicken.
- Vindman: Trump is Putin’s ‘free chicken’, Yahoo.com, September 14, 2020.
2. Tyson Fresh Meats, in association with Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities campus, WQPT and the Moline Rotary Club, is giving away 1,800 boxes of frozen chicken to the community, beginning at noon, Friday, Sept. 18.
According to a press release, volunteers will be handing out one free 20-pound box of uncooked, breaded chicken tenders per vehicle in the west parking lot of the WIU-QC campus. There will be signs showing entrances and procedures to pick up the free chicken.
Boxes will be given away until all 1,800 are gone. The press release says the volunteers will be in masks and gloves when placing the boxes in vehicles.
“It’s important to Tyson to be a part of building a great community,” said Tyson representative Kimberly Crane. “We live here, our kids go to school here and we know where the needs are. Each time we get a donation, we share it with our workers and the community.”
- Tyson to host chicken giveaway on WIU’s Quad Cities Campus, KWQC.com, September 11, 2020.
3. Everyone may not be fortunate enough to earn yummy free chicken sandwiches for life just with a tweet. A woman in the US has just done that after her tweet praising the delicacies of the restaurant in the District of Columbia went viral.
The tweet from 24-year-old musician Bri Hall, who uses the stage name “La Hara”, boosted the business of Roaming Rooster as people started lining up to get a taste of the fried chicken sandwich. Roaming Rooster has made a mark for the use of grain-fed antibiotic free chicken.
“While Popeyes is cool and all if you live in the DMV area you should check out Roaming Rooster in DC. It’s Black owned, and the founder Mike is Ethiopian born. He grew the family business from a food truck and has always been kind,” Hall said in the tweet.
Michael Habtemariam, one of the restaurant’s owners, promised Hall that she would never have to pay again.
“Mike called us tonight completely speechless and said, “thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Y’all really are amazing for making this tweet blow up,” Hall said in a tweet on August 31.
“We made it! Big hello from Mike, his brother, and whole family! We stopped in for an hour to catch up and of course get some dinner,” Hall announced in a tweet on September 1.
- Woman gets free chicken for life after praising restaurant, KhaleejTimes.com, September 11, 2019.
About the author:
Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: email@example.com, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.