In an off the record interview today, President Obama was asked about Kanye West’s rude behavior at this weekend’s MTV Music Video Awards show where he grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift as she was accepting her award.
The President called West, a “jackass”.
We know this because ABC News’ Terry Moran tweeted about it, breaking the “off the record” terms of the interview. Already, the President’s critics are claiming he was unpresidential.
You know what? They’re right.
But it’s helpful to have some perspective.
President Obama isn’t the first president to use crude language when he thought no one would find out or when he was speaking to media off the record. We know that then candidate George W. Bush called a New York Times reporter a “major league asshole” and Dick Cheney, once he became Vice President told a Senator to “Go fuck yourself.”
Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were recorded on tape speaking in vulgar language. I’m sure the same could be said for President Clinton and Reagan. (I’m not as certain about Presidents Ford and Carter.) Bush, Sr. as Vice President said he tried to “kick a little ass” in his Vice Presidential debate opponent, then-Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro.
But what kills me is that those on the right wing are criticizing President Obama’s remarks as if no other previous President ever uttered a vulgarity. They ignore Kanye West’s behavior and the fact that President Obama’s remarks were made off the record. They, in a bizarre attempt to defend Congressman Joe “You Lie” Wilson, say that the President’s remarks were worse.
I’m not so sure.
In fact, I’d say most of them are jackasses, too.
My line of thinking was expressed this morning by Austin Goolsbee this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He said that the GOP was playing the role of the East German judge in the Winter Olympics. Obama could complete a triple lutz and the Republicans would give him a 2.0 out of 10.