Ass Hysteria

ASS HYSTERIA…. It’s been a few days since President Obama’s interview on the “Today” show, and most of the political world has moved on. NBC’s Matt Lauer suggested it is “not the time to meet with experts and advisers” about the oil spill, but rather, it’s a time to “kick some butt.” The president explained, “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers so I know whose ass to kick.”

I figured just about everything that could be said about this has been said, but that was before I saw Jeffrey Kuhner’s column in the far-right Washington Times. Obama, Kuhner said, has “degraded the office of the presidency” by “being vulgar.”

Mr. Obama should be ashamed of himself…. Mr. Obama occupies a sacred and noble position entrusted by the American people. His comments convey utter contempt for the office he occupies. This is street-gangster language more befitting a community organizer in the South Side of Chicago than the leader of the Free World.

Kuhner, a Times columnist, right-wing radio host, and think tank chief, wasn’t kidding. His hysterical tirade was inspired entirely by the word “ass.”

This three-letter word — which didn’t make the George Carlin list and isn’t problematic to the FCC — is, in Kuhner’s mind, evidence of a president who has degraded his office, brought shame to himself, demonstrated contempt for the presidency, and, with just a pinch of racial animus, is reminiscent of “street-gangster language.”

And in case the subtext wasn’t clear enough, Kuhner’s column added that Obama “has been part of the nonproductive segments of society, the parasitical elements living off the wealth of the private sector.”

All because of the word “ass.”

There’s a hysterical wing to the Republican Party, and it’s strikingly odd.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.