Tuesday, July 15, 2003

A Darn Good President-In the middle of the current WMD intelligence flap, Dubya had this telling line-""I think the intelligence I get is darn good intelligence. And the speeches I have given were backed by good intelligence[.]" There are two things telling about the quote. The obvious first thing is that Bush is backing up the CIA and other intelligence agencies rather than roasting them slowly over a mesquite flame; at least in public, people might be privately taken to the woodshed, but we've yet to see it. The second is the use of "darn good." A more worldly Texan would have used "damn good" as his adjective of choice and not be raked over the coals for using it in today's culture. I remember hearing cases where the occasional barnyard expletive has gotten into the President's vocabulary in private, but he is a refreshing change from the bleepable Clinton vocabulary. One of the most damaging things of the Nixon tapes was the obscenities that came out of Tricky Dick's mouth; as a tweenager, I was introduced to the phrase "expletive deleted" in Watergate transcripts. One of the reasons Jimmy Carter won in 1976 is that he presented himself as a squeaky-clean Sunday-school teacher. Back in 1979, when Ted Kennedy was mopping the floor with Carter in early primary polls, Carter said of Kennedy that he'd "whip his a--". At the time, this was doubly shocking, both that Mr. Baptist using the phrase and actually thinking that he'd get a can of whuppin' out on Teddy (which he did). Sometimes a slide into "locker-room" language can be costly; Dick Armey got into trouble by substituting a word that rhymes with bag for Barney Frank's last name, and Steve Largent's use of the full version of BS in an interview may well have cost him the governorship of Oklahoma last year. To a Bright, the use of non-profane cuss words like daggum or darn or shoot would seem quaint at best and hypocritical at worst. However, such clean cuss words at least strive to honor a God-fearing culture. In an era where nothing is sacred in popular culture, guys and gals who go out of their way to keep their language clean deserve a salute. I'd say "a tip of the hat", but who wears hats anymore?. Last night, I saw the tail end of an NBC news piece on Gerald Ford and the Ford alumi (70s footage of Rummy and Cheney with hair!) in the current administration. Despite some of his economic flaws, Ford was (and is) a good guy. You can say the same of Bush 41. Dubya follows in that tradition, with a more conservative, West Texas evangelical flair. As much as we might want someone who sees eye-to-eye to us on all the issues, there is something to be said about having character and grace, of being a good guy. He may not go to the mat as often as we like or pull an economic boner like steel tariffs, but his character gets him a few free economic passes in my book.

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