Vice president Joe Biden was never really known for his ability to be anything but conspicuous, but during the recent signing ceremony at the White House for the new health care legislation voted in this week he was overheard (thanks to the podium microphone) telling president Obama, “This is a big f***ing deal”.
To be honest, I completely agree with him. The new healthcare legislation is certainly the first step in the right direction, and it was such a momentous victory that it was almost worth the expletive. Whilst I’m not particularly offended by his use of coarse language (you could even argue that this is almost ‘positive’ swearing), I know that many will be. And this is hardly Biden’s first time making a PG-13 gaffe:
At a ceremony announcing funding for his beloved Amtrak, he was greeted by a former colleague as “Mr. Vice President.” He replied, “Give me a f***ing break.” Biden’s predecessor famously used the same epithet in an exchange with a senator. And Vice President George H.W. Bush, when asked how he did against Geraldine Ferraro in the vice-presidential debates in 1984, said, “We tried to kick a little *ss.”
Source: slate.com – a brief history of bad language in Washington
Slate.com has posted an interesting article on bad language in Washington over the years, demonstrating that Biden’s faux-pas was not simply a sign of our coarser modern times and highlighting the (sometimes forgotten) difference between vulgar language and vulgarity itself.
From the article, you can see that Biden is hardly the first to succumb to public political profanity – in fact he is just the latest in a long, illustrious line of potty-mouthed politicians:
Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Bush and Clinton all used rough language. Jimmy Carter did, too. (Though his best moment may have come when he didn’t mean to: Speaking in Poland, he said “I want to know the Polish people,” which was translated into Polish as, “I want to have carnal knowledge of the Polish people.”)
Congratulations on the healthcare bill, America!