Tuned In

President Bush's Swearing Ceremony

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Warning: The following post quotes the President of the United States and, therefore, contains language that may be unsuitable for small children.

When he ran for President in 2000, George W. Bush pledged to a Clinton-scandal-weary America that he would work hard to restore dignity to the nation’s highest office. Bush continued that campaign today, swearing into a live microphone at a G8 luncheon in Russia.

The President’s reality-TV moment came in a conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who leaned over his shoulder to discuss the international and UN roles in solving the Israel-Hezbollah crisis. "See, the irony is," he told Blair, "what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over." Shortly afterward, an apparently chagrinned Blair reached over and switched the microphone off.

At least we know what the Moment of Zen will be on The Daily Show tonight. 

With that apercu, the President joined a long line of gaffe-making chief executives that includes Ronald Reagan ("We begin bombing in five minutes") and Jimmy Carter (who told congressmen that, if Sen. Edward Kennedy were to run against him, "I’ll whip his ass"). What was maybe as jarring as the blunt remark was that CNN ran the profanity, unbleeped and unexpurgated, in audio, in the on-screen caption and in its ticker. (Though, oddly, it blanked out the curse word on its website.) I expect the denunciation of the President from The Parents Television Council at any moment.

Of course, Bush and his administration are no strangers to the semi-public off-color remark. Candidate Bush described a New York Times reporter to running mate Dick Cheney as a "major-league asshole" and had his remarks picked up on a microphone; as Vice President, Cheney told Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont "Go f___ yourself" on the Senate floor. (I’ll leave it to the pottymouths at CNN to spell out the whole expletive.)

And like those earlier vulgarities–like, in fact, pretty much everything the Bush administration does–it will probably cut both ways with the public. The President’s detractors will see another cringe-worthy example of the cretin we elected, bumbling boorishly through diplomacy, dropping an s-bomb into a situation with enough real bombs already falling, while popping gobbets of food into his face and chewing open-mouthed. His fans will see a straight-shooter, a man without airs, someone who has remained himself even in the prissy confines of a diplomatic luncheon and has the honesty to call a turd a turd, no matter what the world’s elites think.

Personally, I could care less that a grown man used a swear word when speaking to another grown man. I’m more disturbed that the President used "irony" to describe what seemed to be an entirely unironic situation. Have we learned nothing from Alanis Morrisette?