Monday, January 29, 2024

Why Obama can’t kick ‘ass’ in the White House…

June 9, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( President Obama just can’t win. In a rare moment of public pique, he says in an interview on the Today Show that he knows whose “ass to kick.” Presumably he means the rear end of BP CEO Tony Hayward who much of the media, the public, and politicians of all stripes have screamed at the president to backslap to shut his mouth, stop the dodges, denials, and finger-pointing, and immediately fix the darn spill.

An early June Washington Post/ABC poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans think the government is doing a lousy job in handling the spill. The public’s rage and anger is palpable it’s obviously felt and shared in the White House. So what happens? Obama gets ‘street’ with BP and Hayward, and there’s a collective hush from many of those who agitated for the president to get mad and kick butt.

In a random read of the comment sections on some of the news and political websites, writers variously knocked Obama for using profanity, foul language, and called him and the words, un-presidential, unprofessional, tasteless, and classless. Now remember before the president’s jibe, many of them said that and much more about Hayward and BP. And they didn’t say it with the King’s English.

There’s no real surprise at the hypocritical, feigned shock when Obama dares say what many think he should say, and many think he should do to BP’s top guy if he got him one on one behind closed doors. His “kick ass” remark is not about the propriety of these words from a president’s lips, but the president’s lips that uttered the words. Obama got the damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t treatment from the moment he announced his candidacy. He wasn’t black enough, he was too black. He wasn’t militant enough, he was too militant. He was too much of Democratic Party outsider. He was the consummate deal making Beltway Democrat. He was too anti-corporation and banks. He was too pro-corporate and banking interests. He was too stiff, and straight laced. He was too loose in style.

The parade of Obama’s predecessors who have occupied the Oval Office have routinely intrigued, connived, back bit, wheeled and dealt, and more often than not in unguarded moments used earthy, foul, and salty language to rip foes. But their actions and words are just seen as part of the rough and tumble of politics, and presidents just talking as other regular people do to vent their feelings and emotions.

There is mountains of correspondence, tapes, and memos that document that Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, and W Bush routinely cussed, and spewed out expletives, and epithets (often gender and racial) and profanity laced diatribes. There were no knocks, second guessing, nay-saying, or pious moralizing that they were somehow un-presidential when they sounded off. They were white men who occupied the highest office in the land, and what they did or said, or even how they said it, was chalked up to the pressures and demands of the office.

With Obama that’s not the case. The double standard has been on glaring display with every one of his policy initiatives. With the job stimulus, he spent too much, or he didn’t spend enough. With health care, he went too far, or didn’t go far enough with it. With financial reform, he was too harsh with Wall Street, or he didn’t hammer it enough. With the war in Iraq, he was too eager to wind it down, or too eager to fight it more aggressively.

When BP hit, Obama sent more than 20,000 responders, an armada of ships, multiple operational floating stations, waves of clean-up crews, and held round the clock strategy and operations meetings with oil industry officials, agency heads and staff, and threatened Justice Department prosecutions. Yet, the public still shouted at him that he was too timid and nonchalant about the spill. This brings us full circle back to his tough talk. By the standard of profane speech, “kick ass” is rather tame. And it is generally recognized that the words are not a threat to do anyone serious bodily harm, but meant as a figure of speech to express the person’s willingness to take action to get results.

The only thing that should concern anyone is whether Obama’s metaphorical threat was enough to spur BP to pull out all stops to fix the mess, and then pay whatever it costs to fix the damage that it caused. Obama talked in rough language that BP richly deserves to hear. From any other president, the public would loudly cheer that language. But Obama is not any other president. And his much needed harsh words from him to an arrogant, destructive oil giant won’t change that.

Written By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

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