I’ve said it before: Clinton was sleazy, but that was behind closed doors. When he had his presidential hat on, he acted like a president. In this way, he was precisely like LBJ, who was famously vulgar when the public wasn’t watching, but who understood the symbolism of his office.
The Obama White House, however, is a publicly sleazy White House. Obama talks about ass kicking and bulls******s. Biden is worse. He calls signature legislation a “big f*****g deal,” talks about putting black people in chains, behaves like a drunk and a bully during a vice presidential debate, and deeply offends a grieving father by making crass comments about his dead son’s testicles.
Those of us in the Bookworm Room are not the only ones who have noticed how vulgar political discourse has become in the Obama years, something never before seen in American politics:
Biden seems to set the tone for the Obama White House. Presidents have used swear words before, but Barack Obama now has the distinction of using them, not in private, but in an on-the-record interview. And not in the abstract, as in, the “s*** hit the fan” but as an epithet about his opponent.
It was Barack Obama’s campaign, not a super PAC, not an independent supporter, that ran a crass ad aimed at women comparing voting for Obama with losing one’s virginity. (An idea lifted from, of all people, Vladimir Putin!)
This time, the elegance is gone, the fangs are bared, and standards of honesty are long gone. His policies failed, so no accusation against Mitt Romney is held back: He’s an enemy of women who will outlaw all abortions (no exceptions), he will raise taxes on the middle class just to cut them for the rich, he ships jobs overseas and pockets the profits, he won the first debate through lies (sheesh), he gives cancer to the wives of unemployed workers, he delights in bankrupting companies, he wants to prevent women from getting “access” to birth control, and so on.
George Washington, who was famously obsessed with public dignity, is rolling in his grave. And those of us standing on the sidelines watching are wondering how long a nation can survey when this kind of toxic behavior fertilizes the country’s roots.