tail wagging the dog, the
A small or unimportant factor or element governing an important one; a reversal of the proper roles. For example, She found herself explaining the new therapy to her doctor—a real case of the tail wagging the dog. [c. 1900]
What Does “Wag the Dog” Mean?If you aren't immersed in politics on the daily, through social media, the news, or just casual conversation, you might not be aware that the phrase wag the dog has become pretty poignant political jargon. But, how did it end up in the political lexicon and where did this seemingly innocent-sounding idiom come from?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.