Calling Bullshit

So it seems that President Obama got a little salty in an interview Rolling Stone will publish tomorrow. According to Politico, the prez says of Mitt Romney, “You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, ‘Well, that’s a bullshitter, I can tell.’” The high-pitched sound you can hear now in the distance? It’s the keening wail of shocked, dismayed, flabbergasted, and mortally offended Republicans—mixed with the low murmur of apology from Team Obama. "What is true is that trust is a very important part of the election," Obama spokesperson Dan Pfeiffer told reporters as Obama Romnesia-ed his way today through Florida, Virginia, and Ohio. "The president is someone who says what he means and does what he says and Governor Romney's answers in the debates on domestic issues and foreign policy raise real questions about that." Pfeiffer urged folks to not be "distracted by the word," but to "focus on the issue.”

Good luck with that! If there’s one thing we know from the viral idiocy of 2012 campaign coverage, it’s that the only thing the media will be buzzing about is Obama’s naughty word—a word, of course, completely unknown in those Victorian sanctuaries known as newsrooms. How could a president of the United States be so gutter-mouthed? What kind of example is he settting for our pure-hearted children—who also, of course, have never heard the word still hilariously spelled in many outlets as “bullsh--t?”

At Slate, Dave Weigel notes that wash-your-mouth-out language hasn’t been entirely absent from the stretch runs of presidential campaigns: Richard Nixon saying in 1968 that it was “getting down to the nut-cutting,” for instance, or George W. Bush muttering to Dick Cheney with a mic nearby that a New York Times reporter was a “major-league asshole.”

Conservatives will see the b-word “gaffe” (let’s retire that g-word, by the way, please!) as just one more piece of evidence that the president is not the kind of clean, Christian gentleman who should be occupying the White House. Democrats will laugh and hope it doesn’t cost any votes. And the media? The talk won’t be of whether Romney is the bullshittingest presidential candidate in history, a case the Prospect’s Paul Waldman makes convincingly. It will be—like so much of what passed for campaign “news” this year—all about an ill-considered word that leapt out of a candidate’s mouth. Things said once, in haste, have come to mean more than the more considered things candidates say and mean. Which is, in a word, bullshit.

So They Say

"This all dates back to when we were growing up together in Kenya. We had constant run-ins on the soccer field. He wasn’t very good and resented it. When we finally moved to America I thought it would be over."

President Obama on The Tonight Show, joking about Donald Trump

Daily Meme: New Rules for Campaign Reporters

  • It's less than two weeks before the election, and with every passing hour the number of articles—and the inanity contained within—grows exponentially. To save everyone from undue suffering and additional work, we propose some new rules for journalists:
  • Do not use "game-changer" in a headline. Hell, don't use it, ever. Verb, noun, and adverb (game-changily?) forms are not excluded.
  • Likewise, do not report on one poll as if the singular data point in a long string of election surveys was the most GAME-CHANGING (pardon my French) moment of the entire election cycle. 
  • Do not visit a diner in a swing state. Do not interview the nice old ladies there. 
  • Stop trying to make "waitress moms" a thing
  • Pretend Donald Trump does not exist.
  • Refrain from comparing the 2012 election to the 2000 election. Or the 2004 election. Or the 2008 election. Or the 1980 election.

What We're Writing

  • Steve Erickson reminds liberals that this was always going to be a tight election.
  • Robert Kuttner explains how the fiscal cliff can be a progressive opportunity.

What We're Reading

  • Al Franken celebrates the legacy of Paul Wellstone, the progressive champion who died ten years ago this week.
  • If you think the presidential election is a circus, check out the Florida House races: “Politics here is very gutterlike. It’s like a very bad reality TV show that still gets very high ratings.”
  • Behold an attack ad that makes the attackee look like a pretty swell person to have as a representative, and that is now being used to fundraise by the person it was meant to denigrate.
  • Texas tells European election monitors to get out of the state before sundown.
  • Brian Palmer explores the Coco Chanel-Mitt Romney connection.
  • Obama endorses pro-marriage equality ballot measures in Maryland, Washington, and Maine.
  • Adam Serwer asks: What happened to the GOP’s “Benghazi Smoking Gun”?
  • Walter Dellinger rises to the defense of the Electoral College

Poll of the Day

As Election Day nears, the gender gap is evaporating as more men move into the Obama camp—and more women lean toward Romney. At least, that’s what a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds. Last month, the president led Romney among women by 16 points; now it’s a dead heat. The president trailed Romney among male voters by 13 percent in September; now it’s five. But what might help Obama the most is another finding: Six in ten likely voters now say they expect the economy to improve over the next year—up from 46 percent.

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