by Karl Kurtz
During the last few weeks of Texas' legislative session, minority Democrats in the House of Representatives engaged in a practice known in Austin as "chubbing"—a delay tactic, similar to a filibuster, in which legislators talk at length on every item on the calendar in order to prevent action on a later bill on the calendar. The tactic was aimed at killing a voter i.d. bill that had passed the Senate. This practice caught the attention of The New York Times in "The Talk, and the Talk, and the Talk, of Austin," which focuses on the substance and politics of the issue.
But I'm more interested in adding "chubbing" to my inventory of legislative lingo and finding out the derivation of the term. The Times story doesn't help me with that.
Texas Rep. Aaron Peña has written about "The Art and Etymology of Chubbing" in his prolific blog. He speculates variously that the term comes from the chub fish, which is known for its large mouth, prodigious eating habits, and fattiness, all characteristics that Rep. Peña relates to the "excessive talking that occurs in legislative chubbing."
He goes on, though, to suggest that chubbing may more generally relate to "going fishing," which is "a slow, methodical and patient art" that mirrors "the slow methodical pacing of the lazy passage of time while filibustering." Yet another Peña hypothesis is that "since 1558 the term chub was used metaphorically to describe a "lazy person". This act of legislative chubbing can be described as "taking a lazy or slow approach to asking questions."
In short, while all of Peña's ideas seem plausible, nobody really seems to know where the term comes from. As Gritsforbreakfast concludes in a comment on Peña's blog posting, "It's a phrase propagated for an obscure parliamentary act by one of the most rarified [sic] and exclusive subcultures on the planet - the Texas House of Representatives."
Photo credit: Fishing 4 Fun