Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Should the president cuss?

posted by Rod Dreher

Barack Obama did, saying he’s trying to figure out “whose ass to kick” in the oil spill. Frankly, that’s fine by me. I know he’s engaging in theater, but I like this theater. And while I generally disapprove of anything that makes the public square more vulgar, in this case, I give the man a pass. It shows he’s human.
What do you think?
By the way, the Onion has once again come up with some choice reporting on the oil spill. Beware: there’s wonderful, mot-juste vulgarity here.
UPDATE: 1. I find it easy to believe Obama talks like this in private. I’d be more worried about a president who didn’t talk like this in private than one who does.
2. I also am very sure that this was a calculated bit of political theater by Obama. He’s a cool customer, but the American people want him to get madder in public than he has. So he felt compelled to do this.
3. I like seeing a display of presidential temper, but I don’t know what else he could do to get the problem solved faster — or why we expect him to be Superman. This is not a problem that can be solved by the application of overwhelming force. I would be very surprised if there were anything the government could do that BP is not already doing.
4. If he wants to kick BP’s a*s after the problem is solved, I hope he m—-f—n’ does.
5. If he’s looking for someone’s a*s to kick now, he should find out who in the federal regulatory bureaucracy approved BP’s nonsense emergency response plan, and kick them all the way back to Bugtussle. And he should also put the fear of God into federal regulators, and make them double down on all oil companies with offshore rigs, to make sure there’s a non-crazy response plan in place.
6. LIke Elizabeth Anne says in the combox, we have oil-soaked dead animals washing up on the beaches, and whole communities of fishermen having their way of life destroyed, perhaps forever, and somehow, there are people who are really upset because the president said an ugly word about the company responsible for it.



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Brett R.

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm


H*ll yes!



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kevin s,

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm


I don’t care whether he cusses. I’m not fond of the idea of the federal government actively looking for asses to kick by way of prosecutions before having any real evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
If you are opposed to vulgar language in the public sphere generally, I’m not sure why you would support it’s use here. If cussing becomes the new standard for “talking tough”, then its use will certainly become more widespread.



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Bill

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm


(Warning: entering sarcasm zone)
It certainly moves the conversation to a new level
(Leaving sarcasm zone)



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Scott Lahti

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:28 pm


Should the president cuss?
You’re goldurn, mutter-flockin’, crock-sacking bloody-well right and secret-Kenyan-Marxist hard left he should! Allah be danged if I’m gonna have all the fun of engaging in a one-man verbal sipping contest of solitary malediction if there’s a perfectly good half-white man speak with f–ked tongue just a man-stone’s throw from the president’s TinyURLogist’s orifice, a Dutchman with a nouveau-Willie Nelson pussified Cat-man ‘do who can’t do enough on his lunch hour to finger-plug as many dikes as he can before it’s time to schwing back the other way – not the udder way – what with he’s gonna need everything he can practice on to see that his fingers prick into overtime once the impending Obamacare hickory-dickory-Doctor shortage makes him go long in the back and short in the front like a mullet surprise for meritorious pubic service to a nation only to happy to see him because there’s no way that banana in his pocket is anything other than a banana as Freud would say that wouldn’t he that’s not what your dope-smoking mother said on the 4:20 out of Sinsemilla’a Sense of Snow Business Like Snow Business of America is Business News You Can Use and World Report Card Shark Albert Gore Vidal Sassoon…



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thomas tucker

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:29 pm


More lowering of statesmanship to the lowest common denominator and a further blurring of the boundaries between the schoolyard and what should be a respected institution.
A terrible example for people, I think.



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David J. White

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm


I’m still trying to figure out when and how “butt” (as in the posterior of a person, not the end of a cigarette) became acceptable on television and elsewhere in public. When my sister and I were growing up, my parents considered it an unpardonable vulgarity.
Count me among those who are disappointed when the president is quoted using vulgarity, let alone profanity. Aside from its contribution to the coarsening of public discourse, it contributes further to the substitution of “tough talk” for substantive action.
Captcha: untidy placed



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BobSF

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:53 pm


He was asked a question about “kicking butt”. He replied, using the term “ass” instead of “butt”. It would have been better to avoid either vulgarity.
I’d rather they go after assets…



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EricK

posted June 8, 2010 at 4:56 pm


I don’t care that he cussed. “Ass” registers about a 2 out of 10 on my vulgar scale. What I don’t like is the faux outrage to show the people “he cares” and is “upset” about this. Get on with your work. Don’t pander to us.
CAPTCHA: armstead the
Armstead the…what? Ass?



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Scott Lahti

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm


I give the man a pass. It shows he’s human.
What do you think?
Cf. Eric Idle’s David Frost parody, as the glib and self-absorbed chat-host “Timmy Williams”, wondering aloud to his ccrew whether an old friend’s sudden on-mike suicide-by-handgun should make the final cut:
Timmy: It… it wasn’t a bit too wicked, was it? I mean, it wasn’t too cruel?
Tony and Peter: No, no, no. It was great.
Timmy: No, super… well, er… I think it shows I’m human, don’t you?
So, if it’s good enough for Timmy…
Then there’s that consummate “big-time” f-bomber pilot, Richard Cheney, pinning medals of heroic malediction to his chest with no thought whatever for his own safety deep inside the blackened night of the undisclosed location of his soul, walking among us still like Marley’s ghost, trailing cashboxes muffling the shrieks of the dead and the yet-to-be a-borned alike…



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Mark H.

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm


I’ve very disappointed in the President’s decision to use language that vulgar. It wasn’t necessary and reflects a general deterioration in language in the public square that our President of all people shouldn’t stoop to.



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A108

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:19 pm


OK, let me see if I have this right.
For weeks now, conservatives have been screaming that the President should do something (must be that ‘profit is private, risk is social’ economics which Republicans and Libertarians and Teapartiers now practice).
So, he does something.
Now people are upset because he said ‘kick ass’?
Frankly spoken: It doesn’t matter what he says or does. There is a solid core of people who will complain, bitterly, about everything he does or does not do for the simple reason of being President while black. An unforgivable sin in their eyes.



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Saint Andeol

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm


I made a similar comment in a post a while back when Rod used the word “bitch”. It seems more honest for someone to throw in a bad word every now and then.



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thehova

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm


It didn’t seem very authentic to me.



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Illinois Conservative

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm


Theatre for the sake of it.
I live in Illinois, he was my state senator. Did nothing then, does nothing now. Empty suit trying to show the world that there is something of substance there.
He is going to kick butt? The man has never kicked butt in his lifetime, unless you count the unborn, which he has never, and will never lift a finger to protect.



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MikeW

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm


Sure, why not? He isn’t the “manners” in chief. Real people cuss…it is the ones who do not…or who say they do not…that I worry about.
Sincerely,
Mike



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Richard

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm


I agree with those who think “a**” is vulgar (extremely) rather than swearing. And as far as swearing goes, just look at the fondness for Give ‘em Hell Harry Truman.
But “a** kicking” is juvenile, like hearing a high-school bully threatening a smaller kid.
President Obama, stop pandering to us, stop engaging in silly little pieces of faux outrage, stop trying to shift blame to others and, in short, start behaving like an adult.



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Nick the Greek

posted June 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm


“President Obama, stop pandering to us, stop engaging in silly little pieces of faux outrage, stop trying to shift blame to others and, in short, start behaving like an adult.”
You mean like he did during the two weeks or so when all we heard was “why isn’t the President getting angry?”



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John E - Agn Stoic

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm


I think Crustacean is back…



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kenneth

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:07 pm


Well he should, but let me preface that with saying he should only cuss when there’s a lucid reason to! (Although faking Tourette’s outbursts may be a curiously effective tactic to keep foreign dignitaries off their game in negotiations….)



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MC

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm


“I don’t care that he cussed. “Ass” registers about a 2 out of 10 on my vulgar scale. What I don’t like is the faux outrage to show the people “he cares” and is “upset” about this. Get on with your work. Don’t pander to us.”
Ditto. By the way, this is obviously a response to the people who thought he wasn’t “angry enough”. That was a stupid line of attack, and this is a stupid response. I am just a weeeee bit dismayed that Mr. Dreher is so easily impressed.



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granmabmw

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm


BFD, matt your not the boss of us.



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Alicia

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm


In the context of the interview, Obama answered in this way after Matt Lauer asked him if he should be (paraphrasing) “if you’ll pardon the expression, kicking someone’s butt?” Obama didn’t just throw in the language on his own, he was responding to Lauer.
I don’t think it is necessary for the President to use vulgar language, but I don’t hold it against him, either. If Cheney can tell Members of Congress “F**k you” and Biden can say, “this is a big f**ing deal” then I suppose Obama should be able to use the term ass without anyone having a conniption.
Catchpa – soundest governors



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Alicia

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:32 pm


Also, what Obama was saying in response to Lauer’s question was something to the effect that “we have to investigate the oil spill first so that we know whose ass to kick.” He was definitely not encouraging a rush to judgment.



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Liam

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm


You mean use vulgar language, not curse.
I was raised by parents (b. 1924) who established a very sharp distinction between vulgarity (a venial sin, no matter how blue the word, unless it deliberately was used to cause wrongful pain to someone else, in which case it was in the grave category) and cursing – that is, damning someone – which along with intentional blasphemy was a violation of the Decalogue. So, you see, in our family, “damn you” or “to hell with you” was a hanging offense, but “f-uck off” was not.
But then again, my parents cared about words and meaning.



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Your Name

posted June 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm


The reader comments at First Things on this same subject are much more entertaining than these, and much more representative of how laughable most people find the idea of a She-Ra like Obama trying to act like he’s He-Man instead.



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kevin s,

posted June 8, 2010 at 7:20 pm


“The reader comments at First Things on this same subject are much more entertaining than these,”
What, the idiotic “president while black” line doesn’t float your boat?
A number of comments here have insinuated that conservatives are hypocritical for asking Obama to do something, and then getting angry when he does. Some comments.
1) Saying a cuss word isn’t “doing” anything. I don’t think any conservative was calling for more rhetoric from Obama.
2) Most conservatives do see a role for the federal government in contending with national emergencies. Many were critical of Bush’s handling of Katrina, though less stridently so than the left.
3) Whether or not conservatives believe the federal government should be principally responsible for minimizing this kind of disaster, Barack Obama certainly does. He ran on the promise of expanding government, and making it run more efficiently. He and his fellow Democrats used Katrina to make the case for their election.
So yeah, when you promise something and don’t deliver, you can expect those who opposed you to call you out on it. That doesn’t make them racist.



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kevin s,

posted June 8, 2010 at 7:27 pm


“So, you see, in our family, “damn you” or “to hell with you” was a hanging offense, but “f-uck off” was not.
But then again, my parents cared about words and meaning.”
Curse has referred to profanity for quite some time. Words can have more than one meaning.



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Your Name

posted June 8, 2010 at 7:46 pm


kevin,
The appropriate response to Obama’s search for *ss isn’t anger, it’s ridicule — of which there has been a lot, of an entertaining sort, at First Things.
I agree that it’s pretty rich how Mr. Cool, Calm, Collected, and Competent has fallen so low as to be reduced to hot-headed, adolescent blustering about kicking *ss when he’s proved himself to be incompetent to manage the crisis in the Gulf.



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Rev. Mike

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:08 pm


Whatever your flavor on this topic, it does speak volumes that folks were so outraged 30 years ago when Jimmy Carter told someone in private that he would kick Ted Kennedy’s ass, and today … well, not so much.



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm


Well, those of us out in the working world know that you have to adjust to your workplace culture. You can’t always be yourself. If you read enough about politicians, you know they have to put on masks. That “Elena Grell” person whom I wasted so much time on in the weekend probably never did read that Washingtonian link I posted on the other thread. But those of you who did will know where I’m heading.
You have to reach for the lowest common denominator at times, because that’s where the people are who cannot, even if they tried hard, reach beyond their view of things. So you always have to play it with them in mind, to some extent. They can’t reach you so you have to try to reach them. Survival requires some tweaking of whom you really are. It’s like at the office if your boss is a big buffoon who blusters and tries to be “manly” by telling stupid jokes and doing lame patter and talking about good hits in the football game last night. Let’s face it, a lot of mainstream dudenss is dependent on doing lame stuff. Some of it is faked by dudes who know they have to go along to get along. But you know who really stuck in lameland and who might be faking. You can’t help the ones for whom it is authentic. So you adjust.
You may prefer to read. And you may be comfortable in the world of ideas. But you’re unlikely to tell the blustering boss about good books you’re reading. He wouldn’t get it. You forgive him his limits and look past them becaue he can’t help them. Sometimes the workplace culture requires some faking. So you just throw in a line about football once in a while to try to fit in and share your real self with your buds.
As much as I like Obama’s temperament and personal qualities, I recognize that he has to appeal to people who are both big and small. By small, I mean the “acknowledge my fears and anxieties, make me feel good emotionally” type people. Even when something doesn’t have an emotional solution. A big person would be content with “OK, let’s figure out the problem and work on the solution” which Obama appears to be temperamentally. Maybe David Brooks will write a column about this. He’s written previously about how immature the public is about a lot of things and how that affects politics and public policy, including financial issues.
A big man can “play” small if he has to. And not feel diminished by it. We’ve all done it at times at work. But a small man can never play “big.” He wouldn’t know how. All the books I’ve read about Obama indicate he’s a big man. He can do the faux posturing for those who crave it.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:47 pm


Absolutely not. A president should never lower himself to the lowest common denominator. My husband is a production manager, and no one uses vulgar language in his presence. He never proscribed language rules. He does it by example. He is respected, and that is how he leads.
In my opinion, Obama resorted to such language in order to prove that he is tough and a real leader.
He did not convince me.
Captcha: hour maldy.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm


Oh dear. Long day. “He never proscribed language rules” should read he never proscribed cursing or vulgar language. Geesh.



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pagansister

posted June 8, 2010 at 8:54 pm


IF that is the worse thing President Obama says in public….what’s the big deal?



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:04 pm


Susan Kehoe, that’s interesting, leading by example often works. I hope it does in your husband’s case. But you never know what people say behind a boss’s back.
Truly candid feedback must be offered in a total “trust zone” and almost no working relationship really offers that. I have seen people totally flip behavior, offering praise and acting as yes men with a boss they can’t speak freely in front of. And going into looser, reality acknowledging “if we only could speak the truth in front of him” mode when he is out of sight. Probably not the case with your husband but you are unlikely to be the person they confide in. When I’ve gotten negative feedback, it’s usually been very roundabout and by happenstance. Sometimes that’s been a result of my coming across as too confident in my presentations and people not wanting to speak up. It’s a flaw I have to work on on the job. But I’ve never gotten feedback about myself as a manager from someone talking to anyone in my family.
What about your workplace culture, SK and others? How do you fit in? Do you ever have to make adjustments and put on a mask? What has been your experience in surviving as a wage earner in situations where truly being yourself might cost you? What coping mechanisms have worked for you? I read a lot about management so I’m interested in coping mechanisms and hope posters will share some of their workaday experiences.



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Peterk

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:29 pm


sorry but BHO is a poseur. GWB, RR even WJC would sound more realistic as I suspect they have in the past ‘kicked some ass’. Barry just doesn’t sound realistc



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kevin s,

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm


Indy,
Obama has to express himself in cuss words because he feels that’s the only thing certain Americans will understand?
Yeah, that sounds like him.
To me, that line of thinking is utterly contemptuous. There are those who criticized Obama for seeming aloof. The American people can read when a president isn’t seriously engaged. I don’t think using the word “ass” is going to persuade anyone that he is. It makes him seem more out of touch, in my view.



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Elvis

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm


Should the president use foul language – HELL NO!



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Elizabeth Anne

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:53 pm


There are dead dolphins washing up on the shores of the gulf and people are angry because the president said “ass”?
I’m at a loss for words.



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 9:56 pm


You can’t win ‘em all. Take movies. Rod writes about “The Lives of Others.” That blustering boss in my scenario upthread is going to yukk through geared for teenagers action or comedy pic and give Rod’s film a miss.
Obama leans towards the analytical and the professorial. Carter was a bit like that but had a folksier persona. And Carter was an engineering, not a lawyer. In the past, voters have tended to yearn for and reward the “Daddy, make me feel good” types. That’s not Obama, for better or worse, he doesn’t look at himself as the Dad or the hand holder. Look at the length of his answers in press conferences. He is a classic “on the one hand, on the other hand, let’s think it over” type. Good for getting to the heart of problems. (SecDef Gates said soon after Obama took office that he is great to work with, implying but not saying outright that experiences with the previous administration were more challenging.) Maureen Dowd keeps whining about why Obama is Mr. Spock but it’s that analytical side that problem solving professionals can relate to. He’s a quarterback, he’ll never be an offensive lineman, even if some pundits make him play that position. And of course, politics being what it is, he’ll always have a hard time reaching those who didn’t vote for him, just as GWB did and Clinton did, too.



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Erin Manning

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm


Elizabeth Anne, I agree:
http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2010/06/one-whole-joojooflop-situation.html
While we’re all sitting around and either “tsk, tsking” the president’s verbal choices or approving of the “get tough” rhetoric, the oil hasn’t exactly stopped making a wreck of things.
Here’s an idea: how about the problem gets fixed, first, and *then* we worry about whose posteriors need presidential punting, so to speak.



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TTT

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:08 pm


The reader comments at First Things on this same subject are much more entertaining than these, and much more representative of how laughable most people find the idea of a She-Ra like Obama trying to act like he’s He-Man instead.
As an Obama supporter, thank you for showing me how his critics self-identify as members of Hordak’s Evil Horde. The only difference is that Hordak had more of value to offer the world and went on to lose in a less humiliating fashion.



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:10 pm


Kevin, there’s a difference between aloofness and engagement. Obama does come across as aloof, he doesn’t come across as not engaged. How much do you read about politics, politicians, and presidents? Or spend time observing top managers at your company? You’d be surprised at how often Presidents “have” to do things that aren’t natural to themselves because a needy public has been conditioned to get that. I don’t know where you work, but does your CEO go around giving verbal hugs and posturing about kicking posteriors, for those who need it? Or does he huddle with his senior managers during crises, offer a few calming words to the lower ranks, and brainstorm with executives about problems and issues? What we accept and view as normal in our business culture often is not what we accept in politics. There’s a maturity gap there. As I noted on the other thread, we’re willing to work on our flaws as Christians and as employees. Rarely do we do that as voters.
Erin and Elizabeth Anne, well said.



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Polichinello

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:12 pm


Yeah, he’s going to kick ass, but first, he’ll write another book about how great he is at kicking ass.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm


1. I find it easy to believe Obama talks like this in private. I’d be more worried about a president who didn’t talk like this in private than one who does.
2. I also am very sure that this was a calculated bit of political theater by Obama. He’s a cool customer, but the American people want him to get madder in public than he has. So he felt compelled to do this.
3. I like seeing a display of presidential temper, but I don’t know what else he could do to get the problem solved faster — or why we expect him to be Superman. This is not a problem that can be solved by the application of overwhelming force. I would be very surprised if there were anything the government could do that BP is not already doing.
4. If he wants to kick BP’s ass after the problem is solved, I hope he m—-f—n’ does.
5. If he’s looking for someone’s ass to kick now, he should find out who in the federal regulatory bureaucracy approved BP’s nonsense emergency response plan, and kick them all the way back to Bugtussle. And he should also put the fear of God into federal regulators, and make them double down on all oil companies with offshore rigs, to make sure there’s a non-crazy response plan in place.



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm


@Rod Dreher at 10:19 (if that is really Rod), yeah, from all those books I repeatedly keep pointing to that I’ve read, Obama does sometimes seem to cuss in private.
OK, it’s been fun, but family calls again.



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kevin s,

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm


“Kevin, there’s a difference between aloofness and engagement.”
You mean there is a difference between aloofness and lack of engagement. A year ago, we were all being told about Obama’s rhetorical gifts, about how he was going to persuade people, build bridges, etc… He was the second coming of William Jennings Bryan.
A few miserable press conferences later, the new line seems to be that Obama has some sort of quiet genius that people can’t understand. He’s a quiet, observant, analytical problem solver.
What analysis has he provided in this instance? What problem has he solved? On what evidence am I supposed to believe the man is a quite genius when he is also a loud dullard?
If a trained lawyer cannot discern a way to project interest and empathy without resorting to pedantic vulgarity, on what basis do we declare him a genius?
I ask because the man’s genius was supposed to be what would allow him to transcend these sorts of crises. Ideology doesn’t matter, I am informed, when the man at the helm is indisputably brilliant.
If he is brilliant, it isn’t in any sort of way I can tangibly appreciate. I don’t expect him to have any sort of special solution to problems, and he doesn’t.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:47 pm


Rod,
“I find it easy to believe Obama talks like this in private. I’d be more worried about a president who didn’t talk like this in private than one who does.”
I have heard this sentiment many times, but I don’t understand it. Here is why.
I grew up in a home where “using bad language” was absolutely forbidden by by father and mother. The worse I ever heard my Dad say was “son of a gun”.
My husband grew up–in Ireland no less–with the same standard. His father never even said dam. FYI many Irish people swear with abandon. My maternal grandparents included.
Using, colorful language just doesn’t come natural to us. But I do know that our experience is not the norm. But is it really that unbelievable?
Not that I think that the word that the President used was a four star cuss word. No. I just don’t think that a strong leader needs to use it.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:56 pm


I’m a lot more interested in how President Obama reforms the Minerals Management Service and sees to it that claims against BP are handled in a timely fashion than I am about whether or not he says ‘ass’ in public.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm


Indy,
Why do you think that you have to use vulgar language to be honest and straightforward. My husband and I are what you see is what you get kind of people. It is not necessary to resort to a certain kind of language.
There was a time when people thought, before I became a real Catholic, that I ate barb wire for breakfast. I never had to use vulgar language to earn that reputation.
Likewise early in his career, my husband was considered a maverick, and he never used such language.
Granted, Obama used a fairly mild form. But he is the President. Why did he think it was necessary. IMHO I thought it was scripted.



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Indy

posted June 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm


OK, came back to turn off the computer and saw your question, Susan Kehoe. Could you point to where I said that being honest and straightforward equated with cussing? Nowhere did I say that. I don’t think it does. I myself don’t cuss much, don’t the need. I feel sorry for politicians, Obama among them, that we the people sometimes beg them to do such silly things, but it is the world as it is, not as I wish it would be. That comes from my realization that I’ve had to hide my real self at work sometimes. I forgive those who demand that, not letting people be themselves stems from weakness. The Christian thing to do is to say, I undersand and forgive you. And for the most part, that’s what I try to do when I see people struggling.
Given my druthers, I’d like to see Obama tell people what senior managers tell each other in a well run office. That is, “here’s what we can affect, here’s what we can’t, we all just have to man up and soldier on.” Most voters wouldn’t let him. They’d “feel” as if he was telling them they were whining. As someone once said, voters are used to hand holding and a certain comforting way of framing problems. Some of that demands posturing, the politicians know they have to do it. From some of the books I’ve read, some of them get tired of that and drop out of politics after a while. Maybe voter neediness drives them out. The whole scene is tough, what with the constant need to raise money, to offer soothing words, and to try to resolve really tough issues. Most of us probably would fail miserably at juggling all that.
I don’t think most workers are as needy in the workplace as they are in the political realm. It’s like they forget a lot of their professional skills when it comes to looking at political issues. I’ll have give that some thought.
G’night, all, I’ve enjoyed the thread.



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Susan Kehoe

posted June 8, 2010 at 11:59 pm


Walt,
“What people are angry at Obama about and/or ridiculing him for is the fatuous idea that going on tv and reciting the word “ass” off the inner teleprompter in his head constitutes some kind of adequate response to the crisis in the Gulf, in which he’s so far failed to exercise the kind of competent leadership that he himself has arrogantly sneered at presidents before him for not having shown.”
Amen. That is it in a nut shell.
Indy,
It seems that I did misunderstand you.



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Pat

posted June 9, 2010 at 12:16 am


“I don’t think most workers are as needy in the workplace as they are in the political realm”
I think people are needy and demanding in areas in which they are helpless and ignorant. Things look simple from a distance. The further a problem is from my area of expertise, the less I know about the real difficulties involved, and the more certain I am that somebody else not only could fix it in minutes, but is refraining from doing so on purpose to make me miserable.



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Lord Karth

posted June 9, 2010 at 2:06 am


Should the President cuss ?
That would depend on the President in question. Some don’t have to. Reagan had too much class and was too good a speaker and actor to have to rely on his abilities to use profanities.
Some can, and could, and did. LBJ was able to use his skills in that regard to good use, or so I’ve read and been told. Same with Nixon, from what I recall.
The real question: should THIS president cuss ?
You’ve got to be kidding me. He doesn’t have the talent for it. No doubt atrophied from disuse; I’m sure he learned something of the art in the Chicago projects.
Profanity and vulgarity are supposed to be intimidating, and Obama’s “whose ass to kick” line didn’t intimidate anyone. That segment looked so forced, it was comical. He reminded me of the character Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.
Next time, his handlers should tell him to stick to reading off the teleprompter; it’s what he’s best at.
Your servant,
Lord Karth
captcha poetry: “the arbiter”



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Nancy

posted June 9, 2010 at 3:45 am


Whoever said Reagan didn’t cuss did NOT know Reagan well at all. At public speeches in California, he would cuss like a sailor. In fact, he spoke at my mom’s high school graduation back in the day. People in the audience were whispering a bit too loudly and he definitely let some bad words rip…



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barry venison

posted June 9, 2010 at 4:13 am


Dear Mr. Dreher:
As far as this site not being about culture war… you’re doing a piss-poor job. But then, how could you not; morality IS about the culture war. Hell, even your “science” entries are about the culture war (and I say “science” because your “science-based” entries rarely have to do with actual science, but rather with the social/political/religious/philosophical (and in essence, MORAL) implications of science. In short, a blog that includes “Morality” in its title IS about culture war. And of course this includes (morally and thus culturally) my president using foul language. Personally, I think my president is full of hot-air and is thus putting on a show–as it seems he is wont to in regards to most all things (e.g., his love of the Chicago White Sox… and yet he couldn’t name one player; his, ahem, “interesting” interpretation of medieval history). Embrace the fact that your blog is entirely about morality and thus culture war, Mr. Dreher. It doesn’t make you less “serious.” In fact, it lends you more credibility.



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Indy

posted June 9, 2010 at 6:53 am


Well said, Pat. I’ve been thinking this morning about the question that started forming in my mind about why people can (or try) to act like grown-ups at work and often seem so immature when it comes to politics. I think ignorance has a lot to do with it. It can show up in cartoonish framing based on something negative, maybe fear, maybe anger. Or, the other side of the coin, come out as hero worship. One has some measure of understanding of one’s family or one’s co-workers (although not always, I’ve seen people make some really lame assumptions in the office). Washington? Politicians? Not so much. For a lot of people, if you ask why they don’t try to understand government, the answer is “don’ hafta.”
So on the one hand we get people who portray Washington as a city filled with evil creatures, as if they were aliens in a science fiction movie or comic book. On the other hand, you get overly starry-eyed people who believe if they just could get the right people voted into office, things would magically get better and problems solved in a snap. Either way, no seeming need to thing about process, about systems, and definitely not one’s own role as a part of “the problem.” Whether one argues like a primitive, stomping around as if hunting targets with a bow and arrow, or gushes about a charismatic leader onto whom one unrealistically pins all ones hope (“he will fix it all” or “she understands regular people, she’s just like me”), it dehumanizes our politicians unnecessarily. That largely is our problem, as members of the public. We trap them, as we do in so many other areas, with our neediness, whether it stems from positive or negative desires.
BV, I disagree that Rod is doing a poor job. What fascinates me as a Christian about this particular site is that it draws many people of faith. To some, faith seems to have brought a certain sense of grace and humility. They approach discourse with a clear awareness of man’s weaknesses, including, most importantly, their own. Somewhat like the person who really has worked the steps in AA and come to accept how things are and why. Others can’t and don’t. Something keeps blocking humility and a desire to learn and examine. Rod’s site draws that out beautifully, with the often thoughtful, sometimes impulsive, posts he puts up.
Rod, I’d like to see you write about the Washingtonian article about prayer meetings and sharing of sorrows sometime.
http://www.washingtonian.com/print/articles/6/174/8420.html
The one in which the money quote came from former Sen. Mike DeWine, who said of his fellows, ““There are only 100 of us. You find that you share the same problems; you share, you know, the same emotions. And you find that nobody is worthy of being demonized.” Yet if you look at your comboxes, you see how often people fall back on demonization in discussing politics and government, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. Why that is seems worthy of consideration here. Most of us aren’t up to unraveling that, perhaps you are.



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John E. - Agn Stoic

posted June 9, 2010 at 8:36 am


Hell, even your “science” entries are about the culture war (and I say “science” because your “science-based” entries rarely have to do with actual science, but rather with the social/political/religious/philosophical (and in essence, MORAL) implications of science.
Rod’s not a ‘science guy’ – his strong points are elsewhere and he sticks to them.



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A108

posted June 9, 2010 at 9:34 am


I won’t post the link, but there is a very nice little clip, an outtake, from one of Reagan’s B movies, which settles the question of whether he could turn the air blue or not.
He very much knew how to use ‘those’ words.
I was listening this morning to an interview with a spokesperson from BP. The interviewer (I will not dishonor the term ‘journalist’ by applying it to her) asked him how he could deny the presence of oil plumes in the water.
His response was brilliant: There are no known areas of such contamination in which the oil to water ration exceeds several ppm.
True conservative double-speak. Truly outstanding.
Had the interviewer remembered her fourth grade class on ecology, she would have pointed out that even such a ‘low’ concentration is lethal and dangerous in the extreme. Had she understood Chemistry 101, she might even have driven the point home…
Instead, she pressed the argument emotionally. He won, she lost.
Kevin S., I stand by my comment ‘President while black’. Nothing I have read here has served to persuade me otherwise. If you truly wanted to discuss the cause of this disaster, you would begin by acknowledging that it was the previous administration which permitted BP to drill without the safety provisions even Brazil requires.



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Alicia

posted June 9, 2010 at 10:20 am


Indy, you said:
“Maureen Dowd keeps whining about why Obama is Mr. Spock but it’s that analytical side that problem solving professionals can relate to. He’s a quarterback, he’ll never be an offensive lineman, even if some pundits make him play that position.”
Mr. Spock was my favorite “Star Trek” character (and one of my first major crushes, too). I love that Obama is Spock-like and rational. And there are a lot of Dr. McCoy’s out there who are driven insane by Spock’s rationality, and respond by insulting him with bigoted comments like, “You pointed-eared, green-blooded Vulcan.”



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kevin s,

posted June 9, 2010 at 11:29 am


@Indy,
This isn’t the first time Obama has used simple language in order to appear tough. Remember the beer summit? Remember his jabber about blue collar types clinging to their guns because they are afraid?
The public has had plenty of opportunity to see Barack Obama paint issues in black and white terms. He shares precisely your attitude, that the needy underbelly of America needs to be treated like children.
It hasn’t worked out that well for him. First of all, people don’t think of the United States as a corporation, at which we are all employed. Obama is our client, not our boss. We sign the checks.
And Obama clearly has no grasp of his client’s needs. He failed to see an anti-government backlash coming, and presented his agenda as a way to cut costs. His promises to cut the deficit and cut taxes, in addition to being transparently dishonest, are also missing the point.
So on this issue, and I’ll concede that any president will look bad in the face of an oil spill, he has looked particularly inept. People believe, and Obama’s team did quite a bit to create the perception, that government has been run incompetently. He was elected solely on the promise of change, and this isn’t that.
If anything, Americans are naive enough to believe that he will deliver as promised. If that’s needy, well, he created the need.
If you want to continue to labor under the delusion that an ignorant populace simply can’t process Obama’s true brilliance, go ahead. The rest of us will continue to expect something from our employee.



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barry venison

posted June 9, 2010 at 11:33 am


@John E.-Agn Stoic:
My point is that Mr. Dreher has explicitly stated that this new blog is not about culture war. And yet it is utterly about culture war. Hence, as you rightly point out, Mr. Dreher’s sticking to his strong points–viz. culture (war).



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Walt

posted June 9, 2010 at 11:34 am


“Maureen Dowd keeps whining about why Obama is Mr. Spock but it’s that analytical side that problem solving professionals can relate to. He’s a quarterback, he’ll never be an offensive lineman, even if some pundits make him play that position.”
Since when does reading Rahm Emmanuel’s talking points off a teleprompter constitute analysis?
And what — pray-tell — are the problems that Obama has solved?
If Obama is our national quarterback, then he ought to be benched, and then cut in two years.
PS: To be a green-blooded Vulcan, you have to have blood.



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amanda kanady

posted June 9, 2010 at 11:52 am


NO! horrible example for our children, but he’s a horrible example on a lot of things so I expect no less of him. He doesn’t salute the flag of the country for which he is president, he turns his back on America and I think it’s just a hint of things to come. All those who voted for him are about to see what kind of person he really is, and it’s not the kind of person I want in the white house…. this country was built on biblical beliefs and he is falling short in so many ways. Can’t wait to get him out of office!



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allbetsareoff

posted June 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm


Effective cussing is about placement and timing. You work up to it in content and tone of voice, and make the cuss word the punchline of your outrage or frustration.
There ought to be an element of surprise or shock in using a cuss word. That’s not easy in these times of promiscuous cussing.



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TTT

posted June 9, 2010 at 12:07 pm


It’s amazing that some conservatives are still sticking to this ridiculous “teleprompter” meme. Remember how Obama kicked the a**es of the House Reps during a live Q&A session? They weren’t expecting it, because they assumed if they laugh hard enough at their own joke it would become true.



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Walt

posted June 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm


TTT,
The rest of us put about as much stock in your assessment of Obama’s rhetorical performance as we put in a ninth-grade cheerleader’s assessment of the on-field performance of the captain of the football team.



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TTT

posted June 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm


“The rest of us” being you and the other Crustacean sockpuppets, amirite?



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Scott Lahti

posted June 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm


My point is that Mr. Dreher has explicitly stated that this new blog is not about culture war.
Show us. He stated that this blog intended to avoid politics, as in the daily spot news to do with legislation, electoral campaigns, and the nuts and bolds of the federal bureaucracy. Though the word “war”, as with “War” on drugs, is a scrofulous, syphilitic and pockmarked old whore that should have been taken out and shot ages ago, the fact that “culture” is, as John Cleese would say, the very nub of his gist, is implicit in his very top banner motto here. Were he so self-unaware as to disavow his innermost focus here, many of us would have publicly scratched ourselves bald and witnessed a necessary correction.
He said he planned to avoid politics, and has in the main kept to his vow. Barring shocking proof otherwise, let’s leave it at that.



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Alicia

posted June 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm


Have a mint julep, Dr. McCoy (or should I say, Walt).



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Rod Dreher

posted June 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm


You know what? I’ll make this simple. I’ll close this thread down.
I have said I am going to avoid culture-war topics on this new blog, by which I mean the hot-button issues — gay marriage, abortion — that were a big part of the old blog. Plus, this is no longer a political blog, in the sense that I don’t want it to be a place where I or others engage in the usual partisan back and forth. Sometimes that’s going to be hard to avoid. The question of whether or not the president should have used a mild profanity in public is one about manners and morals. Inevitably, some people are going to try to score banal political points off of it. I struggle over what to leave up here in the comboxes. I don’t want to be censorious, but I’ve got to draw a line somewhere.
You will notice that I’ve kept my comments about the president’s response to this crisis as non-partisan as I can — meaning that when I criticize him, or defend him, I’m not doing it in a score-settling way, but rather as a way of taking the measure of the trustworthiness of our governmental institutions, and what that means, or might mean, for social stability. Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve cared less in my adult life whether the Republicans or the Democrats are running the show in Washington.
If I have remarks to make about economic policy, or morals related to the political process, I may simply have to close comments to keep people who are determined to be ultra-pissy about it from ruining things. On the culture war front, I will continue to write about culture, but I will rarely if ever write about the things that used to be so popular and controversial on my previous blog. If you don’t like it, fine, go find another blog to read.
This thread is closed.



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