There was the following passage in New York Times’s (March 25) article that came under the headline, “Donald, This I will tell you,” written by Maureen Dowd:

“As The Times’s chief Washington correspondent Carl Hulse put it, the G.O.P. falls into clover with a lock on the White House and both houses of Congress, and what’s the first thing it does? Slip on a banana peel. Incompetence Inc.”


What does "fall into clover with a lock" mean? Is it a well-received turn of phrase? I googled for a definition of the phrase with no avail.

  • 5
    They are two entirely different phrases. Look up the idiom "in clover" and figurative meanings of "lock".
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 26 '17 at 1:58
  • "GOP falls into clover" sounds as if GOP is very lucky with the Bill's trainwreck, which I cannot still make out. Why "with lock," is GOP in "prosperous circumstances" as Q23us explains?.
    – Yoichi Oishi
    Mar 26 '17 at 8:24
  • 2
    The "fall into clover" refers to the "lock on the White House and both houses of Congress" -- in other words, they have complete control of the government. The only problem is that they don't know what to do with it, leading to the problem with the TrumpCare bill.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 26 '17 at 12:02
  • @Hot Licks. I think I could make out finally.thank to your last comment. Thanks.
    – Yoichi Oishi
    Mar 26 '17 at 12:13

To be in clover is to enjoy prosperous circumstances, through effort and/or luck. (I believe the writer's use of "fall" in this case emphasizes luck over effort.)

To have a lock on something is to own or control it completely. Part of the connotation is to deny (lock out) someone else's efforts to control the thing.

Here, "with a lock" is not part of the idiom "falls into clover." Rephrased: "With a lock on the White House and both houses of Congress, the G.O.P. falls into clover ..."

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Mar 26 '17 at 17:41

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