June 5, 2012

Obama’s new version of “Hope” involves a lot of bad words

by

John Heilemann: for some reason all his sources say "fuck"

No judgment here, but it’s more than a little interesting that six of the anonymous sources who spoke to John Heilemann for his New York magazine story about President Obama’s reelection campaign (“Hope: The Sequel”) lace their comments with profanity, especially “fucking” and “motherfucking.”

Does Heilemann bring this kind of talk out of his sources? Or do the quotes only stick out because New York magazine doesn’t censor such words?

When the Wall Street Journal quoted from the piece it deleted an offending phrase but made clear that “elision of naughty words is ours, not Heilemann’s”—perhaps a way of saying that the reporter would have run the real quote if his paper allowed. (The New York Times, of course, won’t print “fuck” either.)

But you could also ask: why all the rough language in the first place? It’s almost certain that the campaign and its supporters want to appear tough. They’re headquartered in Chicago, after all, where former White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel learned to give it to the best of them. Or perhaps the campaign crew has been hanging with Vice President Biden, who famously congratulated Obama on his 2010 health care legislation by saying “This is a big fucking deal.”

John Dickerson, responding to Biden’s remark, wrote in Slate that “People of a more sensitive nature might disapprove of this language, but it is a fact of politics. At times, it is necessary. There are instances in private conversation when the expletive is simply the most efficient way to convey meaning.”

* * *

A recap of the expletives from Heilemann’s New York magazine piece:

“A senior Obama campaign official”: “They’ve got to take away either Pennsylvania or Michigan, and they can’t do either one of them. Michigan is a motherfucking joke, to think they can do that, because of what he’s done on the auto stuff.”

 ”A top Obama strategist”: “This fucking guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.”

“Another Obama operative”: “He’s not on your side. You live in Pittsburgh and you’ve got dirt under your fingernails, who do you want to have a beer with? It ain’t fucking Mitt Romney. You’re like, ‘Shit, I’d rather have a beer with the black guy than him!’ ”

“A highly placed Democrat involved in the reelection effort” on the pro-Obama ­super-PAC “Priorities USA Action”: A “fucking abysmal failure.”

“One one of the most vaunted fat-cat-wranglers in Democratic history”: “The president’s campaign announced—or not announced, they let it out, it got in the press, it got in the ether—that they were going to raise $1 billion. So when they come to you and say, ‘We need two-fifty,’ the answer is, ‘What the fuck do you need my two-fifty for? You’re going to raise a billion! Not a hundred million. A fucking billion dollars!’ ”

… the same fat-cat: “They think this is a slam dunk. They don’t think the president’s in trouble. They look at the Republican-primary process and say, That group of fucking clowns?

“A veteran of Obama’s first campaign” talking about focus on Reverend Jeremiah Wright in 2012: “Our reaction was, ‘Fucking bring it on!’ ”

 

Kelly Burdick is the former executive editor of Melville House.

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