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POTUS PROFANITY

Obama says female athletes are “badass”—and that’s pretty mild for presidential swearing

Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
Badass.
  • Hanna Kozlowska
By Hanna Kozlowska

Investigative reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

US president Barack Obama hosted the World Cup-winning national women’s soccer team this week, and had this to say:

In full, he said the team ”taught all of America’s children that ‘playing like a girl’ means you’re a badass.” It was a memorable line with a soupçon of profanity, and perhaps the first on-the-record use of “badass” by a US president. (The word dates back to 1816 has only really gotten popular in the last 20 years.)

But Obama and his predecessors have been working blue since the nation was founded.

Barack Obama

The president is known for the occasional swear-laden zinger. Taking a tough stance against the culprits behind the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, he told the Today Show he met with experts to find out “whose ass to kick.” He also doesn’t stray away from personal insults: he called then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney “a bullshitter” in 2012, and said Kanye West was “a jackass”—once off-the-record, and then publicly.

George W. Bush

While campaigning in 2000, Bush failed to notice a microphone was still on, and told running mate Dick Cheney that New York Times reporter Adam Clymer was a “major league asshole,” giving the journalist the very best kind of street cred.

Jimmy Carter

Carter had a famous rivalry with Senator Ted Kennedy, and in 1979 told a group of congressmen that if Kennedy were to run for president, he would “whip his ass.”

Richard Nixon

His infamous recorded his conversations in the Oval Office revealed many fraught moments peppered with swearing (and also ethnic slurs). But by modern standards it was pretty tame stuff, such as Nixon calling his opponents “bastards” and “sons of bitches.”

Lyndon Johnson 

LBJ had a famous potty mouth.Urination seemed to be one of his favorite metaphors: once, he said of a Kennedy aide:  ”He doesn’t have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.” Another time he said that a member of his administration who was taking a dovish stance on Vietnam “has to squat to piss.”

But what really takes the cake is LBJ’s assessment of a speech by Nixon: “I may not know much, but I do know the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.”

John Kennedy

In 1963, JFK got angry over a Washington Post report that the US Air Force spent $5,000 on Jackie’s maternity suite at an air force base, saying that the incident was a “fuck up.”

Harry Truman

In an interview, president Harry Truman said of the firing of gen. Douglas MacArthur: ”I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. That’s the answer to that. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the laws for generals.”

 Abraham Lincoln

Honest Abe wasn’t above the occasional profane dig, especially at the expense of the British. According to the acclaimed “Team of Rivals” biography, one of his favorite anecdotes was about revolutionary war hero Ethan Allen, who described some Brits who put a portrait of George Washington in an outhouse. Allen, Lincoln recounted, said that “there is nothing that will make an Englishman shit so quick as the sight of General Washington.”

George Washington

Washington himself notably lost his patience once, admonishing general Charles Lee for retreating. “You damned poltroon!” he reportedly exclaimed. It may sound kind of dirty, but in fact a “poltroon” is just an old-timey word for “an utter coward.”

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