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Posted at 04:27 PM ET, 10/25/2012

Obama calls Romney a ‘bulls***er’


This was supposed to be different. (Nikki Kahn - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Quoted in an extensive interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama used the word “bull[crapper]” to describe “the other guy.”

Mike Allen at Politico quoted from the Brinkley piece:

“We arrived at the Oval Office for our 45-minute interview . . . on the morning of October 11th. . . . As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. . . . [S]he said, ‘Tell him: You can do it.’ Obama grinned. . . . ‘You know, kids have good instincts,’ Obama offered. ‘They look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullshitter, I can tell.’ ”

So that happened.

In Richmond, adviser Dan Pfeiffer spun mightily, telling Yahoo! news to focus on content and not to let themselves “be distracted by the word.”

No, actually, I’d like to.

First off, I have serious difficulties attributing this to a six year-old. Six year-olds don’t look at political candidates and use that word, unless they have been reared badly.

It's an interesting comment on the taxonomy of foul language.

How indignant this remark makes you says as much about how bothered you are by the term itself as it does about your views on the office of the presidency. As curses go, only a few still carry vital weight.

And B.S. has slowly crept down the ladder. It’s a two-word combo. Turn it into B.S.’er and you almost feel you can say it on television.

Almost.

Look, there are some words that you can use in certain professions. If you really like talking about hoes, go into farming. If you really like spewing streams of profanity at people who refuse to give you money, go into pandhandling — or, on the other end of the scale, go into being Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Politics offers plenty of room for insults — profane and otherwise.

The history of politics is the history of insults. The Ancient Greeks certainly called one another worse than this. Just google “Cleisthenes.”

Even in more recent memory, Jack Kennedy said this sort of thing all the time. “He’s a cheap bastard; that’s all there is to it,” he noted, of Richard Nixon. “He is a filthy, lying, son of a bitch, and a very dangerous man.”

But that wasn’t what he said in public.

Retired president Harry Truman told an interviewer, “I didn’t fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.”

Eisenhower and Nixon and Johnson and Kennedy said things about the opposition and the members of their own party that would put a curl in your hair. But they did it behind closed doors, for the most part, in smoky rooms or in private letters, not on the record.

Words can be telling.

Never mind that it was Rolling Stone.

The Internet has all but erased the distinction between different forums. When it comes to dropping quotes, Rolling Stone is no different than Parade. You have to speak as though your grandmother is in the room at all times.

But this almost isn’t a surprise. This is exactly where the campaign’s been tending.

A criticism it would be impossible to level against the president and vice president, especially with reference to their debate performance, is that they have treated their opponents with excess respect. Far from it.

From Joe Biden’s head-shaking at Paul Ryan to Obama’s explaining to Mitt Romney what a nuclear submarine might be, they have been, well — rude. But they’ve energized the base! “Energizing the base” sometimes looks an awful lot like “being profoundly impolite to the person in the room with you at the time, for the benefit of those watching at home and pounding their armchairs. Because, after all, he DESERVES it! That nincompoop!”

But it’s not just for the benefit of those watching.

This is a rude campaign. When you are running a rude campaign, you think that this is something you can call your opponent in front of a reporter. And, sure, you can. But I wish you wouldn’t.

Maybe there is nothing novel about this. Sure, others have said worse. But that doesn’t make it less unpleasant to hear.

By  |  04:27 PM ET, 10/25/2012

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