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The political world was mildly shocked by Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the word “smartass” in a public encounter in Wisconsin.  This is on top of President Obama’s use of the word “ass” in the context of “kick some ass” in regard  to the BP oil spill. 

It’s not the first time.  Biden used the gerund of the f-word in describing the health care bill signing.  The President referred to Kanye West as a “jack—” in regard to his behavior at the Grammys.  It wasn’t always like this:  There are advantages to being a precocious political dork in elementary school:  I remember how shocked the nation was by the “explicive deleted” replete through the Nixon tape transcripts.  It was certainly a long way down from the Rep. Nixon that Whitaker Chambers described in Witness.  It was a poor example to set for a leader.  It’s still true for the President and the Vice President.  It sets a poor example especially for the youth.

But I suggest there is another reason for eschewing bad language.  It takes part of the mystery away from our leaders.  David Remnick in Lenin’s Tomb  (a great book about the miracle of the Twentieth Century:  The fall of the USSR) suggested that Stalin borrowed from the doctrine of the Mystery (That the intent of God is unknowable – of course that is heresy – God’s will is that all should receive Christ as Saviour and Lord) in keeping the actions and even the appearances of the Soviet leaders under as much wraps as much as possible.  

I want to borrow the doctrine of the Mystery for this aspect of our leaders:  They should not behave in a coarse manner but rather inspire us to our best behavior.  Cursing takes away from their effectiveness as leaders.  I recommend all our leaders seek to inspire us with exemplary behavior.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Critical Thinker says:

    Excellent point. A real leader should act and speak in a dignified manner always, lest he be seen as angry, frustrated and impotent.

    I submit, therefore, that the behavior of Obama and Biden is evidence that they are angry, frustrated and impotent. They were placed in office by people who have the power to control them. They were allowed by these people to say whatever they had to say, and promise whatever they had to promise, in order to get elected.

    Now that they are in office and cannot deliver what they promised, they are angry, frustrated and impotent. And the crass character of their speech reveals this.


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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