• Truth be told, Barack Obama has probably already lost the votes of that portion of America scandalised by bad language. For one thing, his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, makes copious use of the word "motherfucker" – while his rival, linguistically speaking, seems to inhabit a 1950s sitcom set among the clean-cut patrons of a milkshake parlour. (As governor of Massachusetts, one former colleague told the New York Times recently, Romney used to tell people to "go to H-E-double-hockey-sticks", though he does indulge, the paper conceded, in "the occasional 'crap'.")
But now the coarseness chasm has widened. As an interview team from Rolling Stone were leaving the Oval Office earlier this month, that magazine reveals, "executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president … She said: 'Tell him: You can do it.'" Obama replied: "You know, kids have good instincts. They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell'." "Bullshitter" may not be "motherfucker" – but as an insult directed at one presidential candidate by another, it's this campaign's high, or low, point, which makes it, in the immortal words of Joe Biden, "a big fuckin' deal." "The president is someone who says what he means and does what he
says," Obama's spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tried to clarify, urging
reporters not to get "distracted by the word".
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