Arguing with idioms: Batten down the hatches

A quote in a New York Times story that The N&O used in print inspired my latest idiom research. Here is how the quote appeared early in the editing at The N&O:

"It’s a corporate problem," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., who has been particularly critical of BP’s operations in Alaska and will lead the House committee hearing. "Their mentality is to get in the foxhole and button down the hatch. It just seems there is this pattern."

Leaving aside Stupak’s mixing of metaphors (foxholes on battlefields, hatches on ships), the quote confuses button and batten. This could have been a misquote or a typo in the rendering of the congressman’s quote or a slip of the tongue on the congressman’s part. It is batten in most versions the story on the Web, giving Stupak the benefit of the doubt (and the reader the benefit of editing).

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.