Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kicking Ass

I realize I'm a bit slow in responding to this one, but frankly I was expecting everyone else to. Naive me, I thought there'd be some kind of an outcry when it was widely reported that the man who sits in our Oval Office boasted to the Prime Minister of Australia that the U.S. is "kicking ass" in Iraq.

Now I'm no prude when it comes to language, and "ass" seems to me a relatively inoffensive word anyway. But in this context, it's what it suggests about the attitude of the man who used it that bothers me. On the one hand, it suggests a kind of high school locker room mentality that unhappily no longer shocks with this particular individual. We've heard enough from him to know that his grasp of the subtleties of language is less than one might wish from "the leader of the free world." We've seen enough of his antics to understand that his sense of humor is, well, boyish at best. We have grown used to, if not weary of, his immaturity.

Worse still, though, is the delusional quality of his observation. "Kicking ass," in all its pathetic boastfulness and arrogance, suggests an ease of victory, an ability to impose one's will on others that simply appears absurd in the context of the war in Iraq, where progress--if indeed one concedes such a concept in the first place, has been slow and painful at best. It continues to be slow and painful. Whose ass exactly, I might wonder, are we kicking. The insurgents'? Al-Qaeda's? If so, they show a remarkable resilience to having their ass kicked, since they are still pretty much as virulent as ever. With American troops and Iraqi civilians being killed by the score each day, the concept of our having "kicked ass" in that environment seems wildly off base. Does this man really believe the words he lets so casually slip?

And worst of all, of course, is the fact that he's talking about human lives and limbs. In this context, the casual humor is--sorry, I'm not humorless, but really--inexcusable. What it has to say about the man is deeply troubling, even if it isn't news. The fact that it passes by with barely a ripple of critical response from press or public is a sad commentary on the state to which our society is reduced. (I have not checked the political wing of the Internet yet, but I'm sure that here I might find some of the outrage I'm looking for. Naive me, I just wish that the entire nation would rise up in anger.)

The Buddhist concept of "Right Speech" seems useful to me here. Would that the man who currently poses as our president might have learned a small piece of that wisdom.


robin andrea said...

We are weary of him and his penchant for offensive speech. He is an oaf and an ogre. Our lives would be a constant complaint if we responded each time he revealed his simple-minded, but dangerous contempt for everything. I am always reminded that he laughed in the face of woman who was in his office in Texas begging not to be executed. He laughed. I guess he kicked her ass too.

Quink said...

Yes, I'm with you on that. Quite so.

(And no, I haven't forgotten you!)

thailandchani said...

This is the first I've heard about it since I deliberately avoid American politics.

This kind of statement coming from an American president doesn't shock me in the least. It is a country with a history of imperialism and colonizing other countries, destabilizing the third World for its own gain...

I guess that's why I'm not overly shocked. Of course now the cultural climate seems to be quite friendly to this kind of lack of diplomacy.

The bully has gained enough strength that he doesn't need to pretend otherwise?




carly said...

P: I could go down to his level and say, he's a horse's ass and needs his ass kicked. But I won't. Wouldn't be "right speech". But people llike him do need their asses kicked and that's the perfect expression for it.

Speaking of right speech, the film "The Lives of Others" is amazing, terrific.

Cardozo said...

looks like the Democrats might be coalescing around an alternative strategy..focused on (multi-lateral) peacekeeping rather than offensive "rooting out" of insurgents.

I like it.

khengsiong said...

Bush certainly can console himself by comparing Iraq to Vietnam. After all, there are fewer casualties in Iraq.

But to the families of the deceased soldiers, death of their loved ones is definitely not a 'small number'.

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