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July 17, 2006

The Shit Bounce

Prediction: Bush gets a 1-2 point bounce in the next poll taken after today's off-guard "shit" moment. The reason: because, among other things, "what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit" sounds amazingly sensible, and using the word "shit" in this context seems like earthy, folky wisdom, and Bush is supposed to be all earthy and folky. Now, whether having Syria tell Hezbollah to stop doing this shit would actually work is another matter entirely, and one I don't feel entire qualified to comment upon, except to say that it would be nice if it were that simple. But as I said, it sounds good.

As an aside, this is another place where I'll decline to take a potshot at the President. He was having lunch, he clearly didn't realize his mike was live, and I pretty much think he should be let off the hook for having an unscripted moment of frustration regarding the fact that things have gone to Hell over there along the Israel-Lebanon border. It's one thing to say something jackassed when you're at the podium, making a speech, and God knows I think Bush has done that more than once. It's another to utter a profanity and a not terribly controversial opinion when you're eating something and talking to a colleague, even if that colleague is the Prime Minister of the UK. It's not like he was saying "Dude, we're totally bombing the shit out of Damascus tonight, heh heh heh heh." In that case, there would be actual news, and the word "shit" would be the least interesting thing about it, instead of the most interesting thing, as it is here.

I know, I know. If I keep letting him pass on these little things, I'll be drummed out of the Bush Hata Playa Club, Local #655. But honestly. Like I give a shit.

Posted by john at July 17, 2006 05:01 PM

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Comments

Chang | July 17, 2006 05:38 PM

Shit, he doesn't sound like a total fucking baffoon as he's there talking to the Blair.

Enh, I'll cut him some fucking slack.

SHit, I bin swearin'!

cisko | July 17, 2006 05:40 PM

My first thought was, "I wonder if they planned it." I know, I know... never attribute to conspiracy what can be explained by idiocy. But it provides a way to send a 'get tough' message, via a non-controversial opinion (as you point out).

Too much credit I'm sure. But even as a faux pas, it's nowhere in the class of "we will commence bombing Russia in five minutes!"

Steve | July 17, 2006 05:59 PM

It sounded sensible to me. I wondered if he used the word 'irony' correctly, but I didn't hear the whole thing.

Avedon | July 17, 2006 06:07 PM

I don't care if he said "shit" - I mean, that's how real people talk.

What bothers me is this idea that it would all be solved if Kofi would just tell everyone how to act. I don't get how this sounds "sensible". It sounds idiotic to me.

Jon Marcus | July 17, 2006 06:08 PM

I don't think much of Bush, and I'm extremely concerned about Israel, but my reaction to this particular gaffe was along the same lines. "Ehh, so what."

For a more legit bone to pick, we could note that he also had the (on mike) revelation that "Russia's big and so is China." (Expressing surprise at learning it'll take other G8 leader a long time to fly home, just like him.) I would've hoped that he'd have at least that much grasp on geography. Today my 6-year-old learned that Russia is big. I kinda hoped the leader of the free world knew that already...

Bobarino | July 17, 2006 06:20 PM

The S word doesn't bother me, but my president talking to another head of state and saying something that evinces the geopolitical sophistication of a fifth grader, well, that does.

Wickedpinto | July 17, 2006 06:44 PM

It doesn't make him earthy, and it doesn't make him stupid, it makes him point blanke while speaking with an ally, who might not be an ally now that the press basicaly engaged in specific espionage against the President of The United States of America,

There are a lot of problems with bush, MY biggest problem is that he's not forthright enough concerning these issues, that have CLEAR historical comparrisons. Some of the Extreme Left think it's an attribute of McCarthyism (which makes you wonder where they stand) and those on the right think it isn't in lines with "real politik," which does apply cuz russia is starting to mimic the USSR.

I won't pick a side, other than the fact that I side with Israel in this case. The whole "mideast peace process" which only concerned Israel and "palestine" without concern for the failings of the rest of the region, isn't an in fact peace, it is a ceasefire of convenience for the enemies of Israel.

I think that bush was stupid by including foreign sovereign recognized goverments into this argument before those foreign sovereign recognized governments were clear participants.

Diplomachismo | July 17, 2006 06:48 PM

GWB : is a NASCAR fan, a man who wears cowboy boots as dress attire, a dog person, a recovering alcoholic, a "born-again" Christian, believes he is a "Southerner" (pronounced "Suth-r-ner"), is a namesake Junior of his father, a Republican, hunts with a rifle for fun, likes trucks with big tires, and has a brother named Jeb.

When describing a fight between two others that he doesn't really want to see stop fighting, such as when Roy and Louis get into it at the trailer after Roy's been drinking, such encounters are always described as "Shit".

It is cultural...I say let it be. There is now sense in getting riled up at someone elses shit.

Ron Franscell | July 17, 2006 06:52 PM

From blogger Ron Franscell at http://underthenews.blogspot.com

An open mike at a G8 Summit luncheon caught President Bush peppering his conversation with some salty language, suggesting that the mess in the Middle East is getting poopy.

"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," Bush told British PM Tony Blair as he chomped on a roll.

Of course, the news media is all over Bush's language, sorta like your little sister when she tattles, "Mommy, Ronnie said the F-word!"

Personally, I'm glad the president -- in his language anyway -- proves not to be the stodgy, prudish Baptist prig that he wants the Moral Majority to think he is. In private, most of us use profane language that we'd would never use in a major speech at the Tuesday Rotary meeting, much less the State of the Union address. I confess to using much stronger language regarding Hezbollah than "shit" ... and they are usually deliciously compound profanities, blending juicier and poly-syllabic obscenities. I am able to turn the air around me an acidic blue. It's a gift.

Without a doubt, the Radical Left will act horrified and say it proves our Republican president is unstatesmanlike, even though you gotta believe that President Clinton probably didn't get Oval Office, um, perks without expressing a few comely expletives. And then there's Harry Truman ... a Democrat to whom, ironically, George W. Bush often compares himself. But most of my Leftist friends have been complaining for years that "Bush never says shit." Now he has.

And the Radical Right, especially in the Bible Belt, will probably find some passage in the Bible where Jesus warned that "thou shalt not speak with a potty mouth" or somesuch.

Remember when "crap" was a cuss word? Now it's not just OK for prime-time TV, it's a regular line on some of the best shows, like "Everybody Loves Raymond." As with any word, overuse and misuse are generally the problem, fer crap sakes.

Now, I'm not for a cultural Tourette's Syndrome, where vile words spill out freely at the most inappropriate times, like my annual job review. I've sometimes blurted out some blistering epithets, and I've generally had the good grace to know I fu ... messed up. The trick is knowing exactly when to drop the F-bomb, or the MF-Scud, or the CS-Katyusha to hit the target precisely.

I'm a writer. I writhe, revel and bathe in words. I love them. I use them all. I don't think there's any such thing as a bad word. Sometimes civil language simply doesn't make the point. My use -- or the president's use -- of a colorful word or phrase isn't always evidence of ignorance or an underdeveloped vocabulary; it often means I've chosen a word for its precise meaning and effect. Profanity often allows for a much more passionate expression. A cuss word is like a verbal exclamation point.

So the president said "shit." Get over it, dammit.

mythago | July 17, 2006 07:31 PM

It is cultural...

Nice job on buying the spin, but c'mon. Our President was a rich Yalie. He isn't your stereotype of a Texan.

(Still, I agree with John on this one.)

John H | July 17, 2006 07:38 PM

Bush's cowboy cred: All hat, no cattle...

Joe Rybicki | July 17, 2006 08:14 PM

I can explain the bounce very simply: It was so refreshing to learn that he actually thinks about this shit when he's not on a podium or a photo op.

I know it made ME feel (marginally) better about his interest in things actually going on in the world. I'm not saying I agree with what he said, but just the very fact that he was talking about matters of significance in a personal moment makes it easier to believe that his idiocy in front of a camera really is just a symptom of being a godawful public speaker.

Yeah, I had the "it was staged" thought too, but that's just a little too tinfoil for my tastes.

Response39 | July 17, 2006 08:51 PM

I like your comment! It was a refreshing way to look at world politics. I personally think that if Bush were to expound on his strategic and world political views in this way, more of us would be nodding our heads and saying, "Yup, man's got a point there. Go do it!"

Thanks.

JonathanMoeller | July 17, 2006 09:17 PM

Politicians are liars, journalists are spin-doctors, and political bloggers are over-glorified propagandists for their respective ideologies. We all know they take daily craps upon a statue of Truth. So when one of the chattering wind-up monkeys of the American political class is caught in a moment of seeming honesty, well, it's unusual. Pity it doesn't happen more often.

Cassie | July 18, 2006 12:02 AM

I think the word is a perfect description of the situation in the Middle East.

Naomi | July 18, 2006 01:22 AM

So any thoughts on his impromptu uninvited neck-rub of the German Chancellor? (You've got to go look at the pictures and video, if you haven't. She looks ... startled. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/7/17/212531/190 has them up, I'm sure you can find them other places as well.)

Steve Buchheit | July 18, 2006 07:43 AM

It wasn't so much of the use of the S word as it was the uncritical and shallow understanding of the crisis that got me. Compare our President's live mic comments to Condi Rice's exchange with the Russian Foreign Minister (what? don't foreign governments bug these things anymore, they gotta tip the Audio/Media geeks to keep the mics on?) and it'll demonstrate what I'm trying to say.

WizarDru | July 18, 2006 08:02 AM

Newsflash! George W. Bush bitches about his job to one of the few international leaders he can talk candidly with on a regular basis.

I mean, come on, people. Is anyone actually trying to take the president to task over this? Could this be a bigger non-issue? The middle-east is a miasma of problems and has been for decades. Problems we helped create, sure, but problematic nonetheless. Is it really that shocking that an American president confides to a British PM that it's frustrating to deal with?

Phillip J. Birmingham | July 18, 2006 09:51 AM

WizarDru

Newsflash! George W. Bush bitches about his job to one of the few international leaders he can talk candidly with on a regular basis.

I agree. Shit, I vent all the time about stuff that would make my job a lot easier -- stuff that for reasons of politics or human nature, just ain't gonna happen. "If users would just listen to what I tell them when I install this program..." "If we could just get those knuckleheads to quit messing up our systems through Tivoli..."

The President screws up plenty without we detractors exaggerating.

Wickedpinto
basicaly engaged in specific espionage against the President of The United States of America,

Shit, talk about exaggeration...

Tripp | July 18, 2006 12:04 PM

I don't like Bush, but when I heard his comment See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," about the only thing I thought was who the heck the "they" is refering to? Who does Bush expect to speak to Syria if he doesn't mean the US and Britain? The rest of the G8?

And how is that ironic?

John Scalzi | July 18, 2006 12:08 PM

I expect he means the UN.

Brian Greenberg | July 18, 2006 12:59 PM

Man, this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to grab the world by its shoulders and shake it until it wakes up.

The President makes an open mic comment to Tony Blair about what could very likely be World War III, and the blogosphere lights up over his use of the word "shit?" Please. Not everything in the universe needs to be geared toward children. If you let your kid watch the news, and he/she hears the word "shit" (in between the pictures of dead bodies in Haifa and Baghdad), then you get what you deserve. In the meantime, we'll ask the President to watch his language when he visits Elmo on Sesame Street.

As to what he said, which should be much more important, I agree that it's a pretty cogent summary of what's going on right now. What's interesting to me is that he said Syria and not Iran (and not Syria AND Iran). That may just be shorthand conversation over lunch, or maybe he has reason to believe that Iran isn't driving this to gain leverage on its nuclear program negotiations?

Oh, and by the way: The British press quoted the profanity without commenting on it at all. Instead, they jumped all over Bush saying "Yo, Blair!" to get Blair's attention. They say it "cast Blair in a subservient role and showed the unequal nature of Britain's much-vaunted "special relationship" with the United States."

They also mention that Blair offered to start diplomacy in the region to "prepare the ground" for Condi Rice. He said, "If she goes out, she's got to succeed ... whereas I can just go out and talk." Bush politely declined. The British press jumped all over this too, saying "the conversation suggested 'that perhaps Blair doesn't have the kind of relationship with Bush that he would sometimes like to claim he has.'"

I'll note that the American press didn't even mention this exchange, unless I missed it (I will admit, I haven't been seeking out articles on this non-story).

Moral of the story: It's easier and more profitable to pick apart the salacious part of a story, even it means leaving out some of the substance. Thank God we have the Internet so we can fish around for the truth...

Brian Greenberg | July 18, 2006 01:02 PM

John:
I expect he means the UN.

Actually, I thought he meant Israel. But the UN makes sense too...

Magenta Griffith | July 18, 2006 02:46 PM

I'll second Naomi's comment. What Bush did the to the German head of state would get him, at the very least, a sexual harassment suit, and maybe a criminal case. Why is THAT being downplayed? Saying the f-word because you think the mic is off is a common gaffe. Unwanted and possibly sexual touching is much more offensive, at least to me, and I'd bet to other women.

Confession: this sort of thing has happened to me. Boss at one of my first jobs thought it okay to stare all he wanted, and do a lot of casual touching.

I paid him back. Paychecks for that company didn't have a delay - we were paid for time worked. The last day of the month, I picked up my paycheck for the last couple of weeks, said I was leaving on an errand (most people went to the bank on payday, of course) and left a note for later that just said, "I quit". Only time I have ever walked out on a job.

Tripp | July 18, 2006 02:58 PM

Brian,

You shoult watch the Daily Show. They covered the complete exchange.

Heh heh.

Magenta,

That completely sucks. It is too bad you didn't get a chance to complain, but I can understand the simply leaving too.

If it is any condolence you were my favorite color when I was a kid.

Nate Trost | July 18, 2006 03:24 PM

See, it wasn't the 'shit' that amused me, it was Bush beckoning over the British Prime Minister with a 'Yo Blair!' Just such an Odd Couple moment.

Anonymous | July 18, 2006 06:35 PM

Yep swearing is a worse sin than molesting your fellow world leaders. Gods that image is so creepy.
In my world he would have been slapped up one side and down the other.

http://www.bild.t-online.de/BTO/news/aktuell/2006/07/18/merkel-bush-liebes-attacke/merkel-bush-liebes-attacke.html

darren | July 19, 2006 01:42 AM

I'm mostly appalled not by what he said, but that the slack-jawed apparently hillbilly wannabe said it with a mouth full of food that he couldn't even seem to chew with his mouth closed. I've taught my three year old better manners than this absolute dumb shit of a pResident. Not to mention the insult about other's speeches. And he's supposed to be a statesman?

Tripp | July 19, 2006 10:45 AM

The impromptu neck rub of the female German Chancellor was really weird, yet so totally Bush.

Poor impulse control - treating everyone too familiarly - oblivious to surroundings.

Very weird.

Brian Greenberg | July 19, 2006 01:22 PM

Poor impulse control - treating everyone too familiarly - oblivious to surroundings.

I don't know any more than you do, of course, but I think you're underestimating the friendship the two of them share. There aren't very many people in the "leader of a large nation" club, and so they tend to become fast friends.

The Reagans and the Gorbachevs stayed friends long after his term ended. Ditto for Carter and Begin. And Clinton was very close to Rabin when he was killed.

If they are good friends, then what he did probably didn't warrant a second thought for either of them until they see/hear about the video floating all over the internet...

Luke | July 19, 2006 03:32 PM

Brian, how about you look at that video. She freaked out.

Anonymous | July 19, 2006 09:00 PM

"The Reagans and the Gorbachevs stayed friends long after his term ended. Ditto for Carter and Begin. And Clinton was very close to Rabin when he was killed."
True and PM Trudeau hanged out with Castro on the beach in shorts and a tacky shirt. But when these leaders were "on duty" or officially representing their nations in public they conducted themselves with a lot more formal respect and dignity. When the suit and tie comes on so should the professional demenor. And just because others miss behaved does not mean he can be excused. One should not have to apply child rearing principals to world leaders.

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