The great B.T. Collins, a Viet Nam war hero and confidant of former California Gov. Jerry Brown, had one personal quirk that followed him to the grave.

His obituary as reported by a female colleague of mine on the old San Diego Evening Tribune started with these words:

“B.T. Collins, the foul-mouthed …”
Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s chief of staff, be warned here and now. Consider cleaning up your language or some reporter will do to you what my colleague did for good old B.T.

I knew Collins. If he wasn’t so ill in the weeks before his death, he probably would have ordered his favorite expletive on his tombstone.
Emmanuel, as was Collins, has difficulty getting through a sentence without issuing the F word as an adjective describing just about anything.

Full disclosure: I know the syntax up front and personal. As a teenager, the adjective describing everything was bitching. As an adult, it turned vulgar as bitching was replaced by the F word.

President Obama even joked at his chief of staff’s use of the language at a Washington Gridiron roast in recounting a presidential party camel ride in Egypt.

Emmanuel’s recent ruffle was a mistake when he described a liberal strategy group in August to run TV ads against conservative Democrats opposing Obama’s health care reform plan as “f—ing retarded.”

Placing those two words together was crass. Emmanuel since has apologized to the Special Olympics.

But not before an opportunistic Sarah Palin called him out on her FaceBoook.

I would ask the president to show decency in this process by eliminating one member of that inner circle, Mr. Rahm Emanuel, and not allow Rahm’s continued indecent tactics to cloud efforts. Yes, Rahm is known for his caustic, crude references about those with whom he disagrees, but his recent tirade against participants in a strategy session was such a strong slap in many American faces that our president is doing himself a disservice by seeming to condone Rahm’s recent sick and offensive tactic.

As we all know, Palin is mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome.

Allow me to put this rhubarb in a soup of perspective realities.

Despite his crude language, Emmanuel is a trusted adviser to the president and as one would say has written the book on Congressional insiders and how to elect party candidates to the big show. Until he goes on national television and utters the F word several times and whom it is intended for, it is not the end of the world.

Nor is it a firing offense. If every bureaucrat was fired for uttering the F word and using politically incorrect, albeit offensive language, we wouldn’t have anybody left.

However, crude behavior is rarely rewarded.

I recall Joan Kroc, owner of the San Diego Padres, firing club president Chub Feeney for giving the finger to fans during a seventh-inning stretch of a Padres home game.

Then there was James Watts, Reagan’s Interior Secretary, who had a penchant for saying stupid stuff, one of which offended First Lady Nancy who saw to it he was fired.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin who I declared many months ago would not mention her name in my columns until she offered something of substance to the political discourse.

I lied. Her asking Obama to fire Emmanuel is not exactly substantive.

I’m uncertain if she is using her children as political pawns or feeding at the trough of cheap publicity for herself to bolster her credentials as an analyst for Fox News. Or, God forbid, a run at the presidency.

What is substantive is her right-wing buddies Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher, the Firedoglake blogger, calling for a federal investigation:

“We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the cover up of potential malfeasance until the 10-year statute of limitations has run out.

I mean, if you want to throw red meat, Sarah, that’s the way to do it.
Palin has miles to run before she convinces me of any credibility whatsoever.

It’s not because she is said to have denied funds for the mentally handicapped as an elected official in Alaska.

It’s not because she quit the governor’s job after serving 2 1/2 years.

It’s not because she couldn’t name the enemy her oldest son was sent to Iraq to fight.

It’s not because she didn’t know why North and South Korea were divided.

It’s not because Levi Johnston, her daughter’s boyfriend, claimed Mrs. Palin referred to her youngest son as my “retarded baby.”

It’s not because Sarah Palin denies all of the above.

Nor is it because she regurgitates conservative sound bites without any careful thought of her own, something I consider comparable to the Manchurian candidate cloaked in red, white and blue.

To both Palin and Emmanuel, words come cheap but they do carry consequences.

Leave a replyComments (12)
  1. gcotharn February 3, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Mr. Remmers,

    I was with you until you started the manure about why you hate Sarah Palin. You hate her b/c she is the designated hate receptacle. Pres. Obama has gaffed and demonstrated ignorance equal to anything Gov. Palin has done, yet you do not hate Pres. Obama.

    That said, Gov. Palin’s call for Emmanuel’s resignation is a rhetorical bridge too far. I would prefer this type of public comment: It was an insensitive and hurtful statement, and I appreciate that Mr. Emmanuel has apologized.

    Asking for resignation is trying to run up the score: is trying to get her name out there as a fighter and as a leader. Mistake. On multiple levels.

    Political mistake for herself, as she now loses the high ground. She has willingly jumped into the mud pit.

    Political mistake vis a vis conservatives. The right cannot win an ongoing back and forth contest of pc accusation with the left, and it’s silly to try. The left has the media, and therefore will always win the majority of these types of victories; will always win the major victories.

    Most importantly: it’s simply wrong to embrace a political correctness which is antithetical to American values and is significantly damaging America. Rahm Emmanuel offended some people, and has chosen to make apologies. Only politically correct thinking would demand his head for having unintentionally offended a group of Americans in this almost routinely human fashion: we all make verbal gaffes. Or, only politically correct thinking would pretend to divine, from thin air, Emmanuel’s true intention. Rahm Emmanuel gets to say what his words meant. No one else knows what was going on in his head (we know Rahm has no heart, so the intentions of his heart are not an issue). Conservatives and moderates must rise above political correctness; must make an effective argument that political correctness is national poison. Speech must not be chilled in this way: must not be chilled by pulling out a guillotine in response to inevitable human gaffes. Such damages our culture and our nation.

  2. JSpencer February 3, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Frankly, with what goes on in DC I would expect the F word to be in much greater use than it seems to be. Not that I don’t prefer civil discourse (role models for young people you know), but I also appreciate how strategically chosen words can help modulate pressure or levy necessary accent when called for.

    …comparable to the Manchurian candidate cloaked in red, white and blue

    Not too shabby. Poetry almost. Palin is an opportunist. If you don’t believe me, just ask John McCain. 😉

  3. shannonlee February 4, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Who decided “bitching” is okay but the “f word” is not? I grew up in an area where the word “crap” was considered vulgar. Using the word “crud” was the acceptable substitute. Saying “shit” would send you to hell. Anyone who said “fuck” was gay. And being gay is the worse possible thing in the universe.

  4. Axel Edgren February 4, 2010 at 6:26 am

    “PC” is sometimes just decorum.

    I think “retarded” fills a niche that words like “idiotic” or “pant-on-head stupid” simply doesn’t fill, but I can’t get over the fact that that is almost like saying that something is “Asian” or “positively Latino” when something is really really moronic.

    • shannonlee February 4, 2010 at 6:29 am

      Did you see the South Park episode on the word “fag”. It is pretty funny. And no I don’t ride a Harley.

      • Schadenfreude_lives February 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

        Did you see the South Park episode on the word “fag”. It is pretty funny. And no I don’t ride a Harley.

        Yes, they repeated it last night. As a non-Harley biker myself (except when I borrow Eddie’s hog), I couldn’t stop laughing. It was a great riff on PC labeling, and the mentality of some bikers (even some non-Harley riders I know).

    • dduck12 February 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

      I think “retarded” fills a niche that words like “idiotic” or “pant-on-head stupid”

      Warning: Don’t ever use the r word. I did, in a what I thought was a perfectly innocent way and was attacked viciously on another forum. People with children having certain problems, love them dearly and feel that the word is extremely negative- emotionally so.

      • ProfElwood February 4, 2010 at 12:08 pm

        The safest cuss words are made up on the spot. I always thought were an ixperiwen groblick, but Axel strikes me more as dewoly plevquill. Any offense either of you take is just a product of your demented imaginations.

  5. jkremmers February 3, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    I don’t hate Sarah Palin. Through no fault of her own, she was thrust unprepared into the national political arena. She is no wiser or dumber than any hockey mom in America. But she is passing herself off as a political conservative voice without any credentials or frame of reference to back it up just like the rest of the hockey moms. The difference is she was given a microphone and platform. I do give her credit for being a quick learner and I think in time she can catch up with the curve and be a viable political asset to either the Republicans or a third-party Tea Party advocate. — Jer

  6. gcotharn February 3, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I allowed myself to be duped by your statement: “Palin has miles to run before she convinces me of any credibility whatsoever” and by your regurgitation of gossip.

    I appreciate that you give her credit for being a quick learner. What she was called upon to do: enter a political campaign cold, without experience and without having months of primaries in which to make mistakes and to sharpen her game, was an almost impossible task. She did about as well as anyone could have done in those circumstances: producing a huge boost of energetic supporters for McCain.

    Reactions to Palin fascinate me. You frame her qualifications in terms of “hockey mom”. Interesting. The best considerations of the Palin phenomenon:

    Victor Davis Hanson: “Palin and Obama – What Really is Wisdom?”

    Violet Socks, proprietress of Feminists and the Mystery of Sarah Palin. This post generated 486 comments – many of them outstanding.

  7. dduck12 February 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    You’re quacked”

    And have been for quite a while.

  8. Schadenfreude_lives February 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Self-loathing, F_T?