toilet tongued president
Having served ten years in the Navy and Army Reserve, most of it as a sergeant, I'm not exactly a prude when it comes to foul language. It started on the first day of service at the height of the Vietnam War when they were raking in 4000 men a day at every urban induction center. At six AM that February day in 1968, I stood with thousands of other young men in their underwear ready for a production line medical exam. A petty officer jumped up on a table and shouted, "All right mother f....rs, LINE UP!..." It got ruder after that. After a very long day, our grey school bus pulled into the gates of Great Lakes Naval Training Center at 12:30 AM on the shores of Lake Michigan with the Arctic wind blowing across the Great Lakes at 40 below, the engine was shut off, the door opened and another petty officer stuck his head in the doorway and shouted, "All right mother f....rs, OFF THE BUS, you're in a word of shit!" It got ruder after that. Every single day in boot camp, we were called 'faggots' and 'MFs;' what got me through was thinking, 'well, if all these straight boys can take that, I guess I can too.'
The boot camp experience was so linguistically offensive that, as I rose in rank to Sgt First Class, I resolved never to talk to my troops that way. It worked, they felt respected and worked as cohesive units regularly recognized for outstanding performance. I was only a damn sergeant, caught in the middle between loopy lieutenants and miserable young men who wished that they could be suburban mall brats again chasing gum chewing valley girls. No one thought the army was a great way of life; well there were a few, and they became sergeants.
Most of us grew up, got out, went back to college, and learned not to prefix every noun with 'f...en.'
Until now, presidents never talked that way, at least not in public. Lyndon Baines Johnson, LBJ, was a notorious cusser behind closed doors. The dirtiest thing he ever said in public was inadvertently due to his deep southwest accent as he began every speech by addressing the American people as "Muh fellow Murkins... ." He was also somewhat piggy personally; forcing reporters and staff to follow him into the Oval Office men's room where he sat, shat, and kept talking. But he was a highly intelligent leader who began an era of equality and American progress. Nixon, on the other hand, was simply a low class prig surrounded by liars and crooks who really didn't have a clue about presidential decorum. One can go on, down the list of leaders, citing their lexicographical sins. But, until now none has single handedly brought vulgarity to the quoting lips of television evening news anchors, and to the ears of children and families. Erudite TV newsmen, and the editors of our most prestigious news publications and others had until now never allowed a vulgarity such as "shithole" to pass their public lips or to appear on their printed pages. Under the enlightened presence of President Obama, young Americans learned that anyone can aspire to be president if they study hard, speak eloquently, and work for the common good. But now, our new toilet tongued national leader has taught children and idiots to demean women and minorities, and talk like a moron.
Before entering boot camp, I and my Vietnam era peers who went through our elementary school years in the 1950s, never heard language like that, ever. My parents' generation were quiet decent folks who never uttered a dirty word in their lives. It never even occurred to them. Back in the day, one of the nation's original late night TV hosts came close to the close of his career after he told some joke vaguely referring to a toilet. Shocking! And a famed Borscht Belt comedian was bumped off the air by Ed Sullivan after he was given standard hand signals off camera that he had two minutes and then one minute to end his monologue. Some say he was drunk and took offense and said, live on camera and on stage, "They're giving me the finger, here's a finger for you and a finger for you!" Footage of the episode shows he used his index finger not his middle finger; but nevertheless it was enough.
Well, in the formerly all male world of boot camp, ships at sea, and Army bases, you got used to hearing and using foul language. When you went home on leave you had to consciously remember not to talk that way at the dinner table. But now after evening TV news reports on what the president said during an immigration debate, saying 'shithole' has become just regular family dinner table talk.
So, what did the president say, in fact? At a White House meeting with senators from both parties, the discussion dealt with possible compromise legislation regarding immigration. At some point, the president realized that the legislation being discussed would allow immigrants from African countries and Haiti to arrive and expressed his view that he would not want people from "shithole countries" to come here. For some reason this crude utterance became major news despite the fact that he's already been unashamedly publicly vulgar in bragging about grabbing specific private parts of young women, implying that female reporters and others were suffering from uncontrolled menstruation, and in a nationally televised prime time debate describing his opponent's bathroom break as "disgusting, don't talk about it." He was, of course, the only one vulgar enough to talk about it to the nation on live television.
Some alternate-reality apologists said that the president had said 'shithouse' and not 'shithole,' thereby attempting to refine the vulgarity to his having crudely referred to the the structure within which the toilet resides, rather than to the natural anatomical aperture. Isn't that nice! In this country, when the president speaks, every utterance must be analyzed for deeper meaning; no matter how profound or profane! In referring to proud nations as shitholes, was he being a racist, or is he simply toilet tongued? Its a trick question; he's both.