In addition, the descriptive term you are seeking for aggressive, uncompromising singlemindedness is "fire-eating". When 'Greenmantle' describes reckless gung-ho officers as "fire-eating young lunatics", when 'Gone with the Wind' addresses the hot-heads as "You fire-eating young bucks", John Buchan and Margaret Mitchell did not call them fire-breathing young lunatics and bucks, because they were not writing about crusty kerosene-reeking Carlsberg-elephant-drinking street artistes. You could look it up. Or better still, you could get Ngram to look it up for you.
Part of the blame for degrading the poetry of colloquial speech must fall upon one John Hawkins, American shouty person, given to smearing cliches and idioms together in a kind of conceptual Cuisinart, whose relationship to the English language is fraught at best and whose literary skills operate at the level of compiling laundry lists. Here's Hawkins in 2004:
Al Gore: The man who once claimed to have taken “the initiative in creating the Internet” on which you now read this column has transformed his image in the Democratic Party from that of a stiff Southern centrist to a fire-breathing, enraged, raging, anger-fueled, raging, rage-machine...And a column from November 7, 2011
Romney 3.0: The fire breathing “conservative alternative” to John McCain who pretended like he was the reincarnation of Reagan?Hawkins has a real thing about fire-breathing. Perhaps circus performers feature in his intimate fantasies. Or Godzilla.*
June 31, 2012
if Mitt Romney becomes the nominee and gets elected, some people seem to be hoping that he'll be the first Republican moderate to go to D.C. and turn into a fire-breathing conservative.Jun 10, 2013
Romney is more of a moderate, establishment type, not a fire breathing bomb thrower.Most recently (courtesy of Roy Edroso), Hawkins was compiling a list about
McDaniel is a fire-breathing, Tea Party-friendly conservative who has been endorsed by Sarah Palin, the Tea Party Express, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Freedomworks, the Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund and Right Wing News (I wrote the endorsement) among many others.Come to think of it, in the context of racist Mississippi politicians, the title "Fire-eater" has a specific meaning which could explain Hawkins' desire to avoid it.
* Updated with Bonus Godzilla because SCIENCE.