This expression is not associated with a positive experience, as it is similar to being caught with your hand in the cookie jar (caught doing something wrong) and/or being caught with your pants down (seen in a vulnerable often embarrassing situation). This saying is said to come from Scotland around the 15th century and being caught red-handed probably referred to people who got caught with blood on their hands from murder or poaching. Impoverished citizens who were desperately hungry would poach livestock from others in their community and they were easily caught when the owner of the land saw their bloodied hands. The first use of this phrase dates back to the Scottish Acts of Parliament of James I, 1432.
Red-hand also appears in this piece from Sir George Mackenzie’s A discourse upon the laws and customs of Scotland in matters criminal, 1674, “If he be not taken red-hand the sheriff cannot proceed against him.” The earliest known printed version of ‘red-handed’ comes from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, 1819, “I did but tie one fellow, who was taken redhanded and in the fact, to the horns of a wild stag.” “Caught red-handed” is one of those few phrases with a definition that is essentially the same today as it was hundreds of years ago, however the contemporary definition no longer applies only to crime. Today, someone may use this idiom when he or she has witnessed someone doing something wrong or immoral.
Some politicians often lie even when they were caught red-handed. Richard Nixon aka Tricky Dick said he was not a crook, Ronald Reagan aka Teflon president said he wasn’t aware of the Iran-Contra deal and Bill Clinton aka Slick Willie said he did not have sex with that woman. Lying is an inherent part of being a politician and you can always tell when a politician is lying as you will see their lips moving. Trump has made a habit out of stretching the truth, confusing facts, missing the point, saying things with no evidence to back up his claims, and plane outright lying. Donald Trump actually said that it’s okay for him to lie since “people agree with me.” Trump seems to have failed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he let Putin walk all over him in Helsinki and he always falls back on the same tactics every time he gets outmaneuvered, which is to double down and change the subject to blaming Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democrats. Another thing that Trump does to worm his way out when he is caught red handed is to backtrack.
Written for Linda G. Hill Life in progress One-Liner Wednesday – July 18 prompt.