IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

White House cursing is not a BFD

Two years ago, at the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act, Vice President Biden was overheard telling President Obama the historic occasion was a "big f**king deal." The comment wasn't intended for the public -- Biden didn't know the microphone would pick it up -- but once it was out there, the White House embraced it as an endearing Biden moment.

And with that in mind, the Obama campaign is selling t-shirts like these, touting the same "BFD" message. It led Jake Tapper today to highlight the recent history of "blue" language and Team Obama.

Conservatives suggest that cursing is now a “thing” for the Obama campaign, given that campaign manager Jim Messina yesterday blogged “Let’s win the damn election,” and Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard tweeted “it’s constitutional. B******.” (Asterisks included by ABC)

And Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod in March blogged. “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare.”

Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney's senior adviser, said language like this is "not presidential." (Follow up question for Fehrnstrom: your campaign believes in heckling and sending a bus to drive around in circles while honking. Is that "presidential"?)

But before these questions about political cursing make the rounds too much, let's also pause to note recent history. When George W. Bush decided to launch an unnecessary war, he proclaimed, "F**k Saddam, we're taking him out." When Dick Cheney ran into Pat Leahy on the Senate floor in 2004, he said, "Go f**k yourself."

During a discussion on immigration policy a few years ago, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) screamed at Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), saying "F**k you! This is chickens**t stuff." On the campaign trail a few months ago, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who positions himself as a virtues champion of traditional values, blasted a reporter's question as "bulls**t."

The point is people in politics sometimes use profanity. So do people outside of politics. Let's not make too big a fuss about this.

Postscript: I don't claim to be an expert on cursing, but are words like "damn" and "hell" still considered "bad" words? Are people who use them seriously at risk of being accused of having a "potty mouth"?