Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 11:23:01 -0500
Subject: Re: bean bag

Since beanbag seemed to be a political term, I checked Safire's Political
Dictionary, and came up with what might be the origin of the term. The
following is on page 46-47:

"His early experience,' wrote Finley Peter Dunne of his creation,
saloon-keeping philosopher Mr. Dooley, "gave him wisdom in discussing public
affairs. 'Politics,' he says, 'ain't beanbag. 'Tis a man's game; an' women,
childher, an' pro-hybitionists'd do well to keep out iv it."
The above quotation is taken from the preface to "Mr. Dooley in
Peace and War," published in 1898; it had been used earlier by Dunne, on
October 5, 1895, in an essay in the Chicago Evening Post.
A beanbag is a cloth bag partly filled with beans (or, more
recently, plastic beads), easily catchable, used in a children's game of the
same name. In Mr. Dooley's use, the child's play made a dramatic comparison
with a man's game, and has been used for that purpose ever since (though the
"man's game" has recently been replaced by HARDBALL).
"Carter's flaw as a political leader," wrote Jack Germond and Jules
Witcover in a column that appeared in the Washington Starr on September 14,
1977, "has always been his massive self-assurance, his total confidence that
no one would believe him capable of political knavery or personal weakness.
But in the Bert Lance case, what was in question was his sophistication.
And, as Mr. Dooley told us long ago, politics ain't beanbag."

At 04:18 PM 2/17/98 -0500, you wrote:
Wonderful cites, Mr. Kane! It may be, in fact, that I misheard
"beanbag" as "beanbaggin'"--the gerund form wouldn't be used, right?
I assume the original ref. is to a simple kids' game, kind of like
hacky-sack (ever heard of that one?).

(Hmmm, I read _The Nation_; wonder how I missed "beanbag"?!)

Karen Lubell
William Safire's "On Language"
The New York Times