I was reading an excerpt from an article in The Hindu, and came across some constructions which threw me:

Clearly, in the post-Greenspan age, a central banker does not have the defences available to the brainy professor to blink his way out of misconstrued, if not misconstructed, sentences. In fact, no one within coughing distance of a political stage does. Ask Gloria Steinem, who worried that young American women were missing the feminist logic of supporting Hillary Clinton in her quest for the Democratic nomination, as the “boys” were with rival Bernie Sanders.

Please explain to me what the underlined parts mean. In particular, please explain the meaning of these three phrases:

  1. to blink his way out of misconstrued sentences
  2. no one within coughing distance of political stage
  3. feminist logic of supporting Hillary Clinton in her quest for the Democratic nomination, as the “boys” were with rival Bernie Sanders

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This is Indian English, in all its glory, and so cannot be properly discussed in an Anglo forum such as this. Indian English is to US/UK English as biryani is to meat and 2 veg - there's no comparing them!


I can only guess, for the most part, since these phrases are not common in Canadian English, which is what I've been speaking for 60 years, nor is it common in American TV, which I've been watching most of my life. (I don't remember hearing any of them in British TV either, although I haven't seen as much of them.) I wonder if these might be English translations of phrases/expressions common in Hindi or one of the other Indian languages?

In any case, I feel sure that the "blinking" phrase refers to the common situation where someone "blindsides" a speaker - says something he/she isn't expecting - and then the speaker is taken aback. He/she may just blink as they think of an answer. They might even just think for a moment, and then move on as if the interruption/question hadn't happened, if they can't think of a suitable answer or are afraid to state that answer for fear of upsetting the questioner or the audience.

The "coughing distance" phrase clearly just means that no one who might be a candidate for political office should do whatever the writer is condemning. (I have heard the expression "spitting distance" used in a similar context; perhaps "coughing distance" is an attempt to update that.)

The "feminist logic" phrase clearly operates on the assumption that any feminist would vote for the female candidate rather than the male one to show solidarity with the idea of feminism. (I'm not sure if the writer seriously means to say that a woman will always be a better standard-bearer for feminism than a man or is just characterizing feminists over-simplistically.)

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