If you don’t know what a kerfuffle is, or what some call a karfuffle, you’ll have to ask Boris Johnson or Merriam-Webster.
Frankly, I never heard the word until Boris, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, used it in describing Donald Trump’s recent impeachment.
In an interview with a U.S. television reporter, Johnson used the word to characterize Trump’s impeachment and acquittal on a charge of inciting insurrection against his own government calling it the “toings and froings and all the kerfuffle.”
The latest kerfuffle or karfuffle or scarfuffle just occurred after Senator Ted Cruz admitted he made a mistake about leaving his frigid home without electricity last week amid the state’s power crisis.
According to Merriam-Webster, kerfuffle is defined as “a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict.”
At the very beginning of the 20th century the word was used on a handful of occasions by Alice Perrin, a British novelist. Her novel The Stronger Claim (published in 1908) used a common variant of the word, kafuffle:
“Suppose we had been two young bachelors from the regiment”—he winked at Selma—“and you had come home too soon! My!—what a kafuffle there would have been!”
And two years later Perrin again used the word in her book The Charm: “Oh! What a kafuffle!” she said wearily, and left her chair to approach Irene’s bed.”
Back to Cruz.
Cruz thought twice about fleeing Houston and hopping on a flight to Cancún with his family for a respite at a luxury resort while millions of his fellow Texans were still in the grips of the freeze paralyzing his state.
And now this latest news report roused hornets out of their Internet nests all buzzing that he left the family poodle Snowflake behind, but this is now being challenged by fact checkers who say the dog was being well taken care of and was never in any peril.
Well, let’s hope the next wave of kerfuffles will be more evenly distributed among liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and hopefully no one will utter an arrogant variant of the infamous quote attributed, probably erroneously, to Marie-Antoinette, the queen of France during the French Revolution:
“Let them eat kerfuffle cake.”
Just before blogging this, I ran it by a friend who lives in Texas who told me what it was like freezing as if to justify what Cruz did, and below his response, I sent him mine.
Tom, the smart Texans shut the water off at the street, let the pipes drain, locked up the house & got out of Dodge. No electricity, no water, no heat and it was 10 degrees the first night. Kathy & I bolted to warmer weather in Florida!
Yes, that was smart, but leaders need to stick around and do what they’re elected to do—lead, less they become only fair-weather senators. Their families can flee, but they’re like a ship captain who must stay with passengers and crew in a storm.