Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The PC vs. Expletive Deleted War

The great B.T. Collins, a Viet Nam war hero and confidant of former California Gov. Jerry Brown, had one personal quirk that followed him to the grave.

His obituary as reported by a female colleague of mine on the old San Diego Evening Tribune started with these words:

"B.T. Collins, the foul-mouthed ..."

Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, be warned here and now. Consider cleaning up your language or some reporter will do to you what my colleague did for good old B.T. I knew Collins. If he wasn't so ill in the weeks before his death, he probably would have ordered his favorite expletive on his tombstone.

Emmanuel, as was Colllins, has difficulty getting through a sentence without issuing the F word as an adjective describing just about anything.

Full disclosure: I know the syntax up front and personal. As a teenager, the adjective describing everything was bitching. As an adult, it turned vulgar as bitching was replaced by the F word.

President Obama even joked at his chief of staff's use of the language at a Washington Gridiron roast in recounting a presidential party camel ride in Egypt.

Emmanuel's recent ruffle was a mistake when he described a liberal strategy group in August to run TV ads against conservative Democrats opposing Obama's health care reform plan as "f---ing retarded."

Placing those two words together was crass. Emmanuel since has apologized to the Special Olympics.

But not before an opportunistic Sarah Palin called him out on her FaceBoook.

I would ask the president to show decency in this process by eliminating one member of that inner circle, Mr. Rahm Emanuel, and not allow Rahm’s continued indecent tactics to cloud efforts. Yes, Rahm is known for his caustic, crude references about those with whom he disagrees, but his recent tirade against participants in a strategy session was such a strong slap in many American faces that our president is doing himself a disservice by seeming to condone Rahm’s recent sick and offensive tactic.

As we all know, Palin is mother of a child with Down's Syndrome.

Allow me to put this rhubarb in a soup of perspective realities.

Despite his crude language, Emmanuel is a trusted adviser to the president and as one would say has written the book on Congressional insiders and how to elect party candidates to the big show. Until he goes on  national television and utters the F word several times and whom it is intended for, it is not the end of the world.

Nor is it a firing offense. If every bureaucrat was fired for uttering the F word and using politically incorrect, albeit offensive language, we wouldn't have any.

However, crude behavior is rarely rewarded. I recall Joan Kroc, owner of the San Diego Padres, firing club president Chub Feeney for giving the finger to fans during a seventh-inning stretch of a Padres home game.

Then there was James Watts, Reagan's Interior Secretary, who had a penchant for saying stupid stuff, one of which offended First Lady Nancy who saw to it he was fired.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin who I declared many months ago would not mention her name in my columns until she offered something of substance to the political discourse.

I lied. Her asking Obama to fire Emmanuel is not exactly substantive. I'm uncertain if she is using her children as political pawns or feeding at the trough of cheap publicity for herself to bolster her credentials as an analyst for Fox News. Or, God forbid, a run at the presidency.

What is substantive is her right-wing buddies Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher,  the Firedoglake blogger, calling for a federal investigation:

"We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

I mean, if you want to throw red meat, Sarah, that's the way to do it.

Palin has miles to run before she convinces me of any credibility whatsoever.

It's not because she is said to have denied funds for the mentally handicapped as an elected official in Alaska. 

It's not because she quit the governor's job after serving 2 1/2 years.

It's not because she couldn't name the enemy her oldest son was sent to Iraq to fight.

It's not because she didn't know why North and South Korea were divided.

It's not because Levi Johnston, her daughter's boyfriend, claimed Mrs. Palin referred to her youngest son as my "retarded baby."

It's not because Sarah Palin denies all of the above.

Nor is it because she regurgitates conservative sound bites without any careful thought of her own, something I consider comparable to the Manchurian candidate cloaked in red, white and blue.

To both Palin and Emmanuel, words come cheap but they do carry consequences.

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