(VIDEO) Obama on the Gulf Oil Spill and What Everyone Else Says When They Really Want to Ask Whose Ass to Kick

BlogHer Original Post

President Barack Obama is catching attention, both positive and negative, for talking rough in a Today Show interview with NBC's Matt Lauer.  Obama is planning to insist on accountability and action about the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, and he's not shy about saying so with adult language:

I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. and I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.

"So I know whose ass to kick."

Obama's taking names and putting boot to tail.  Oh, snap!

Not everyone loves that kind of language.  Some think it's rude, crude and socially unacceptable for our president to be so blunt.  Comedy Central poked fun at the outrage, though, saying:

He said "ass." Did you hear that? He said "whose ass to kick." Profanity and violence! Who can possibly doubt the president's murderous rage over spilled oil now?

Considering the beige alternatives to colorful language, I think it's refreshing to hear that ass will be kicked over something that clearly calls for it.  Isn't it about time that our leaders actually say something when they speak, and that what they say sounds like they will hold someone's hide accountable for problems?

Let's be glad he didn't use all-too-common talking points that are heard straight from the spin doctors who advise the middle ground even in the midst of disaster.  I don't need any more generic euphemisms for action like these:

Call for an Investigation

How often do politicians hide their ass-kicking boots behind a investigative process? Faced with the unprecedented horrors of Hurricane Katrina, George Bush said, "What I intend to do is lead a, to lead an investigation to find out what went right and what went wrong." That statement was sadly 100 percent Texas cowboy-boot free, and delegating to an investigation came across as though he was passing the buck on accountability.

Huh? What? I'm Not Sure, But Something Bad May Have Happened.

Maybe the speaker thinks they sound open and impartial by playing it cool instead of naming the elephant in the room, but when something has good horribly wrong, wouldn't you rather hear the enormity acknowledged? I'd rather hear that someone is going to be held accountable than milquetoast doublespeak like President Ronald Reagan gave in '86 in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster when he said the Tower Commission would have 120 days to discern "how it happened and how it can be prevented from happening again."

The Suspense is Killing Me

Why don't bureaucrats and politicians just come out with their accusations instead of wrapping them up in doublespeak mystery dumplings of meaningless generalities, like when U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensaraling intimates this about the sub-mortgage financial crisis: "What we have to do is get to the bottom of this."  I can almost hear Sherlock Holmes quipping, "Why, yes, let's, but first shall we make some tea and smoke a pipe, dear Watson?"

Gathering a Bouquet of Facts

This spring's floods in Nashville put a lot of pressure on local leaders for response.  Do you think U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper wanted to say anything stronger that the generic support he offered to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s call for an investigation to examine crucial decisions leading up to the disaster? If he did, Cooper missed his chance, instead soft-pedaling with, “We need to get the facts. We need to make sure this never happens again.”

I'm thrilled the president is speaking boldly.  I would much rather hear that some butts are getting whooped and that some heads will roll than only hearing blander statements like "we're looking into it and calling for an investigation, so we're going to shed some light on this thing pretty darn soon." There is something authentic and congruent with hearing "there will be blood!" when that is what's warranted. Do you agree, or would you rather that leaders refrain from such blunt language?

Contributing Editor Deb Rox's boots are made for walking, and one pair in particular that is perfect for kicking ass, which she does over at her blog, Deb on the Rocks. 


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