Unethical Quote of the Month: President Obama

The bottom of the barrel...

The bottom of the barrel…

“Stop being mad all the time. Stop, stop, stop just hatin’ all the time.”

President Obama at a campaign appearance, referring to the Republican House of Representatives.

This may be the most unethical statement I have ever heard any President say, to any one, ever….

1. It is undignified. A President of the United States should be talking like Little Bow Wow. He degrades the office and embarrasses himself, even if he is too narcissistic to realize it.

2. It is divisive, and intended to be, suggesting that opposition to his policies are based on hate, rather than principled disagreement.

3. For that reason, it is implied race-baiting, as “hatred” for this President is always paired with racism.

4. It is insulting and uncivil to elected officials who are also doing their jobs as they see them. To suggest that they are motivated by anger and hatred is dirty politics, despicable for any leader, deplorable for a President.

5. It is dishonest. The statement mischaracterizes serious Constitutional issues, miseducates gullible, low-information voters, and promotes useful ignorance.

6. It unfairly represents dissent as personal, though this may well be how this amateurish, desperate and confused man sees his adversaries, because he incapable of perceiving his own weaknesses and mistakes, or accepting accountability.

7. It is infantile and idiotic. No American should have to hear his or her nation’s leader talking like a junior high school student. That’s terrifying.

53 thoughts on “Unethical Quote of the Month: President Obama

  1. Well, I suppose that’s not the way Churchill would have put it. But the, again, Churchill was never awarded the Noble Peace Prize.

    • You know what? I can’t laugh about this stuff any more. It gets worse and worse, and I never foresaw the leadership of the nation falling so abysmally low, or an individual of such weak, petty and and unleaderly character ever rising to power. I am fighting as hard as I can not to be resentful, and to retain some shred of respect for those who refuse to see it, admit it, or accept it.

  2. While your points may be valid about this statement, I am curious and too lazy/busy to do the research myself — Did you rant about Bush’s ridiculous pronunciation of the word nu-cle-ar, et al.? Maybe you did; I just can’t remember. But as an American, I found his possibly deliberate mispronunciations (i.e., possibly to appeal to those with a lesser educational experience) to be an international embarrassment. No American should have to hear his president talking like an uneducated buffoon, either.

    • WHAT? Patrice, I have a hard time taking this seriously. You’re comparing a regional mispronunciation (one that nuclear engineer Jimmy Carter also used, as reviewing old SNL skits would remind you) to a cynical, intentionally dumbed down, divisive, slanderous statement designed to undermine debate? Wow—this is a new low for grasping at straws combined with—let’s see, about five rationalizations.

      Moreover, I object to this straightforward and accurate analysis of what is unethical about a political statement, malpractice, by an official as a “rant.” How is it a rant, exactly? When I rant, you’ll know it.

      But to answer your question, yes, I have written before about the verbal ineptitude of both Bushes, which I regard as outrageous professional incompetence since communication is so essential to the job, and since a decent coach could fix both of their problems substantially. ( I could, for example.) I think something is also physically wrong with them, frankly…it’s the only explanation that makes sense. Jeb can talk clearly.

      You are the first person I have ever heard make the accusation that either Bush periodically sounded like an inarticulate boob intentionally. There is no reason or justification for such a supposition, just as there is no justification for a professional politician to speak as badly as either Bush (or Carter, LBJ, Ford, McCain, and too many more to mention.)

      Boy, things are really desperate in “Save face for embarrassed and guilty Obama voters Land”….

      • First of all, let me apologize for using the word “rant.” I am somewhat short of brain cells at the moment. But I am emphatically NOT trying to “Save face for embarrassed and guilty Obama voters Land.” Perhaps you didn’t notice that I said that your points were valid about his statement. But yes, I am comparing “regional mispronunciations” by any president with what our current president said in the statement above. Because both are unethical.

        Secondly, I was not attempting to deflect anything from this current president’s unethical remark by mentioning Bush. I was merely trying to gauge whether or not you, Jack, had written about it. I assumed that you had, and was hoping for an answer to the question. As I wrote, “I am curious” and asked the question. Maybe it looked like baiting. Sorry. Wasn’t meant to be so. AND it wasn’t meant to be a rationalization (or 5). It’s just that when I think of a president speaking in a way that is not what I would like to hear from our Chief Executive, my mind automatically goes to George W. Bush.

        I still stand by the possibility that politicians might (MIGHT) use regional dialect and pronunciation as a strategic tool. I have no idea if Bush. But I wouldn’t be surprised. In fact, I’m pretty sure that LBJ, for instance, was quite adept at using his Good Ol’ Boy persona and speech as a strategy to get what he wanted. If an educated person chooses to use “regional mispronunciations,” I see no good reason for it except as humor or manipulation.

        I also stand by my embarrassment at Bush’s speaking habits, as well as those of our current president, many other presidents, and many, many other American politicians — be it “cynical, intentionally dumbed down, divisive, slanderous statement designed to undermine debate,” or ridiculous colloquialisms, or whatever. I often think, as I hear or read what one of them says — “What a buffoon!” And what an embarrassment to the country. (Please notice that I include President Obama.)

        • And THIS is why I get so upset. When liberals point out things about conservatives, there seems to be a blindness or forgetfulness in some people about the similar misdeeds (or in this case, mispronunciations) of the conservatives. And if we dare to claim that conservatives have done these things, we are told that we are being unreasonable. I’m not denying anything about Carter. Anything stupid that is said by a chief executive embarrasses all of us, liberals and conservatives.

          • Imagine how conservatives feel when the reverse is true? I think there’s an amount of confirmation bias in play here, which we as rational people are required to identify and move past.

            • I guess that the liberals with whom I hang out are different from the ones some of you folks know. Neither I nor the liberals with whom I associate indulge knowingly in selective blindness or forgetfulness. When a liberal politician is called on the carpet for something legitimately, we are critical of that behavior/speech, too.

              • Who ARE those liberals? They sure don’t hang out on Facebook, the Daily Beast, Salon, the Times, the Post, the Daily Kos, etc. Tey aren’t members of Congress, E.J. Dionne, Paul Krugman, Chris Matthews or Carole Costello…

              • Yeah. That comment wasn’t about you. I don’t know you, I can’t judge you, I don’t want to. All I can say is if that stung, perhaps a moment of reflection is necessary, and if not, not.

                I will say that I believe your response is typical of a liberal mindset. “He said something bad about the group I self-identify, well…. I don’t think I’m like that, he must be wrong!” As a group, I honestly believe that the average conservative is better at taking a step back and criticising conservatives as a group, or accepting criticism than the average liberal.

                • That’s very interesting, because most of my liberal friends feel that way about liberals (being better at taking a step back, etc.).

                  • Hey, I get what you’re saying, and I even considered it as I was typing my reply “Is this something that happens equally for both groups, and we’re both falling victim to confirmation bias?” Or “because Obama is in office, do we have more opportunity to criticise liberal decisions?” and “What was it like under Bush?”

                    I decided to leave it as I typed it, because I just don’t see the average liberal express the outrage to Obama’s signature scandals that I saw conservatives express after Bush. I’m not talking about the extremists at Fox or MSNBC, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore, I’m talking about boots on the ground, average Joes. I hear excuses. And while I accept that I might just be hanging out in the wrong circles, national polls seem to back me up. Liberals seem more willing to put up with being lied to their face under Obama than conservatives did under Bush.

  3. Almost as bad as the statement was the expression on his face as he said it. In the Army, we called it an SEG. Since I have no interest in taking Scott’s place, I will not explicitly define the term for you but it has to do with a grin, offered while consuming fecal material.

  4. Does it really matter if he called Bush on the carpet for mispronouncing words? This isn’t about Bush. This is about the man in office now – who has spent far too long riding on the coattails of “Bush Was Worse” talking points – not about the man who preceded him. We need to have an honest conversation in this country about the attitude and conduct of President Obama and, in my opinion, the only way to do that is to ban 1) the race card and 2) the name George W. Bush from the dialogue.

  5. Appeal to populism has always been present Jack. No President would ever do this in prepared remarks in an official statement, but a local speech? You’re only aware of this because of the wonders of the internet and cable news.

    This is no different than a politician pretending to like the corn dog and prize winning pig at the local county fair.

    I heard the whole speech and I was annoyed too. But I hate it whenever politicians are pretending to be something they are not.

    • Well, sure it is different from the corn dog, or Hillary’s fake Southern accent, because of the content and the target. And because of the wonders of the internet and cable news, a President is presumed to know that his comments aren’t going to just the target audience, so he is responsible for what he says. I don’t recall anyone cutting Mitt any slack for his (quite accurate) 47% remark, which was typical of what all candidates will say to narrow constituencies in private settings, and that became public because it was secretly recorded–the wonders of technology again.

      Was Obama pretending to be someone he’s not? He was pretending to talk like someone he’s not, but is he that big a jerk to actually believe what he said?

      I know my answer.

      • Obama viewed his statement as pure theatrics, and nothing more.

        And I disagree that this is any different than adopting a speech affectation.

        On another note (and this coming close to defending Obama — which I don’t want to do), lots of people engage in this behavior, including me. Whenever I go home, I deliberately dumb down my speech because I was sick of family/friends telling me that I talk “high and mighty.” Is it unethical for me to do that? I don’t think so.

  6. I wanted to give him a chance, and the first few months attacks seemed more based on race, foreign name, birthers, etc. That discredited the conservative’s attacks for a LONG time as it didn’t seem to give a chance to the new president, who WAS elected even if they don’t like it. It happened before and will happen again and much of being a politician is learning to work with your opponents and get something tolerable to a majority. They all want an all or nothing game. Apparantly, they all flunked their kindergarten grade in ‘plays well with others.’ Crossing the aisle was more frequent and not grounds for you own party’s attacks. We are way to polarized on almost every important issue.
    Suffering through another two years of this makes for abysmal thought. No matter which party games their seats in Congress, none of them are likely to work at building consensus or even listening to what the middle wants from both sides. I really wish we had a viable 3rd party that wasn’t already extremist to remind the GOP and the Dems that they are not forever..

    • I don’t even need a third party (although I wouldn’t mind seeing a legitimate one form). I’d just love to see someone – from either side of the aisle – actually LEAD. The LEADER of the country should be the one encouraging folks to reach across the aisle. His job is to broker that communicative environment of trust, respect, and even bargaining which allows things to actually function. When either side approaches the bargaining table as a zero-sum game, not much is going to happen – nor should it.
      The current administration however, has used just about every dirty trick, every side-step, every low blow in the book. And the ones which have only been whispered and wondered about, I would be shocked if they weren’t true. He’s done everything in his power to belittle and alienate his opponents into not cooperating with him, overrides and ignores them when they do, and then stands in front of a hideously compliant press and declares himself the victim. Then boasts about how he’ll bypass little things like ‘established procedure’ and ‘the rule of law’ and ‘his freaking job’, then laughs as the complaints against even this turn into proof of his victimhood.
      President Obama is petty, spiteful, narcissistic, churlish, treacherous, manipulative, twisty, and just plain mean. To say nothing of being utterly clueless at how to do his job properly, a zealot to his causes, and spoiled rotten.
      Gotta go – the NSA and IRS are on my front lawn, arguing over who gets to talk to me first now.

      • Thank you, aaronpaschall. I don’t think I have ever read a comment by another in this blog that said so precisely what I think – and said it so much more plainly and clearly than I ever could have said it. I am copying your comment for my “personal thoughts” file – never a more ditto-y DITTO.

  7. I was in Germany when Dick Cheney showed up at an Auchwitz memorial in Poland wearing hiking attire.
    There he was, sitting together with world leaders wearing his ski cap and parka.
    You could not hear yourself think, so loud was the criticism of this man and his lack of class and good taste, and surely it was representative of most Americans, baffoons and uncultured cowboys that they are.
    Later I had stops in England and Ireland where the topic of choice was the same.
    I kept my mouth shut and considered sewing a maple leaf on my coat.
    I was ashamed.

    What do you suppose the rest of the world thinks of the present idiot playing at being a leader?
    Do you think they respect him?
    Do you think he improves our image around the world?
    Or is it just that you don’t care?

    • He has? Cite, please. Pretty much everyone agrees that Jefferson was by far the most intelligent and accomplished man to ever grace that office; his I.Q. is estimated by most at 160 or above. The only person I could find who said that daft thing was Michael Beschloss, and his ruminations deserve all the scorn we can heap upon them.

      As for those Presidents with measured I.Q.s, Carter’s was measured at 156, but that says nothing about management skills (Carter had none to speak of; the overly intelligent tend to micromanage). Despite his brilliantly organized campaign, Obama does not seem outstanding in the leadership department. Of course, when compared to Chance the Gardener (a.k.a., Bush #43), anything would constitute a substantial improvement.

  8. Hey Jack….One of these days I’m going to ask Michael J. whether he considers the behaviors you sometimes write about as “unethical.” It seems to me that that particular umbrella is covering an incredibly broad spectrum. (If I wanted to be nasty I could say that “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” But that would be unethical….


    • Not unethical…just incorrect. I discard thousands of topic monthly exactly because they have nothing to do with ethics. Are you seriously suggesting that how the President of the United States projects his office, treats adversaries and models civility and honesty isn’t a straight down the alley ethics issue? If so, I’d say the song you need to be singing is “If I had a hammer…”

      Who is “Michael J.???

  9. Every informal speech given by this president gets weirder and weirder, and more and more appalling. Jack, you nailed this one – I nominate this post of yours as Quote of the Month. You certainly said what needed to be said.

    Best line – “1. It is undignified. A President of the United States should be talking like Little Bow Wow. He degrades the office and embarrasses himself, even if he is too narcissistic to realize it.”


    • I admit that I didn’t know who Little Bow Wow was. I had to look him up. It seems that he is the rapper formerly known as Lil Bow Wow. These days he just goes by Bow Wow. Or perhaps Mr. Bow Wow in a more formal setting but I am just guessing on this last part.

  10. I don’t have a problem with this from an ethical perspective, as some of the opposition is driven by hate. Take the corporate inversion problem. Before Obama spoke, Republicans and Democrats were talking about legislation to punish companies availing themselves of this tax dodge. But when Obama spoke up, Republicans dug in their heels. If there is a principled basis for disagreement on this discrete topic, I remain blissfully unaware of it.

    They would rather tank this country (and for the most part, they have!) than allow the man to have even a single success. And politics has always been a science of reducing complex ideas to a bumper-sticker. It’s not unethical, and not even inaccurate.

  11. ‘A President of the United States should not be talking like Little Bow Wow.’
    I almost fell off my chair laughing! Your take on the situation is spot on of course but that cracked me up.
    When he starts accusing the Republicans of ‘throwing shade’ it will be time for most Americans to bookmark the Urban Dictionary just to keep up.
    I personally wish he would limit his public appearances to The View and Late Night, then it wouldn’t be so embarrassing . . . oh wait, the sitting President of the United States on a talk show isn’t exactly professional is it? Oh well, too late now – that seems to be one of his favorite past times.

    • We did have a President once who liked to play his saxophone on “Larry King Live”. I think that’s where to lack of respect for the office BY the incumbent started.

      • I thought former President Clinton was the first to do the social television appearance while in office but wasn’t sure, thanks for verifying.
        No matter which current President does it, to me it seems to belittle the office. Call me old school but I do think when you hold the highest office in the land you should be held to a higher standard and consider appearances – as in what the outside world sees/thinks, not which show you should appear on.

        • As I recall, President Clinton played his saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show during the 1992 campaign, but it was before he was elected. If he did it again afterward while in office, I’m not aware of it.

          As far as I’m aware, President Obama was the first President to be a guest on a television program (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) while in office. I didn’t think is was appropriate then and I still don’t.

          …and this was when I first coined the term “Celebrity in Chief” to describe the President’s apparent preference for being famous over being the President.


          • “As far as I’m aware, President Obama was the first President to be a guest on a television program (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) while in office.”

            Between. Two. Ferns.

          • Thanks for clarifying, I actually took a minute to search the topic and quite a few candidates have appeared on shows over the years. But only President Obama has done so while holding the office from what I’ve read. I found this quote from Today (http://www.today.com/news/president-obama-can-let-loose-late-night-tv-thanks-bill-6C10858821)

            . . . After all, Obama — dubbed by some as the “pop culture president” — has made something of a habit of getting silly on TV, slow-jamming the news on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” showing off his dance moves on “Ellen,” joking on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and discussing his relationship with the first lady on “The View,” to name just a few of his many appearances. This was his fourth time on “The Tonight Show” while in office. . .

            Hands down the funniest quote within the article is from Barbra Walters commenting on former President Clinton’s saxophone performance while campaigning:
            . . .The appearance was heavily criticized by Republicans, including George Bush Sr.’s press secretary Terry Clarke, who said Clinton “looked like a sad John Belushi wannabe” and by the likes of Barbara Walters, who famously called it “undignified.” . . .

            I can’t decide if she changed her mind about what was ‘dignified’ when she became a talk show host or if she feels that President and First Lady Obama discussing their relationship on her show is ‘dignified’ conversation.

            If you follow the link above from Today there is a great little clip of former President Regan on The Sonny and Cher Show in the mid 70’s when he was governor.

  12. That statement of Obama’s was all that you said it was, Jack. But it’s also HIM. This is more or less the standard rebuttal to all opposition that he extends. It’s also the mantra taken up by his die hard supporters and the bulk of the leftist internet trollers. “Racist”, “hater” with occasional forays into “stupid” and “homophobe”. He (and they) are reduced to this because they have nothing else to offer in self-defense.

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