*When President Obama was in Los Angeles for a fundraiser recently, I went looking for him. I cruised affluent Hancock Park searching for signs that a multi-million-dollar home might be hosting a star-studded dinner party for a President of the United States: blocked streets, heavy law enforcement presence, media trucks, protesters, etc.
Having no luck, I was on my way back home, driving east on Beverly Blvd., when I spotted a City of Los Angeles vehicle marked BOMB SQUAD. I tailed the truck straight to the site of the fundraiser, home of “E R” and “West Wing” producer John Wells. Not really. I didn’t get close at all. The Secret Service had closed streets surrounding the house for many blocks.
And of course, I didn’t really expect to see Obama. But if I had–if on foot I’d somehow worked my way up to one of the traffic barriers just as he was sliding out of The Beast–I would have gotten the President’s attention, given him my card and suggested we meet when he had a minute in the days to come, to discuss his appointing me to a newly created, sorely needed White House post: Czar of Shut the #$%@!! Up.
Without question, one of Obama’s great strengths, both during his campaign and his administration, has been his seemingly infinite patience with some of the unmitigated nonsense that has been said about him. I’m not talking political sparring or opinion; I’m talking sheer doo doo.
And while it is normal and even healthy for an administration to have its watchers and critics, an increasing amount of what is said about Obama is rhetoric on a level unprecedented. To his credit, the man has exhibited industrial-strength restraint.
However, there are occasions on which you just can’t let certain dookey slide. Because, no matter how obviously crazy pronounced manure sounds, sometimes, the more you don’t speak up, the more certain people think they can bronze a turd and pass it off as a rare medallion. One of the joys of living in America is that we can say pretty much what we want. But some things deserve to be put in perspective, succinct and uncut.
That’s where the humble duties of my office would come in.
It would be the mission of the Czar of Shut the #$%@!! Up (CSFU) to respond to things that the President can’t, in a way that simply wouldn’t be prudent for him to say in light of his position in the world. My office would boldly declare what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Vice-president Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Bo, the First Dog, don’t dare fix their mouths to utter, and do so in the hearty, pragmatic fashion in which such things must be said.
For instance, early in his administration, when it was intimated that Obama making the traditional Presidential speech to the nation’s school kids was akin to the government indoctrinating pupils, the Czar would have responded with something in the way of: LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT–YOU HAVE A #$%@!! PROBLEM WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES URGING AMERICA’S CHILDREN TO STAY IN SCHOOL? ARE YOU #$%@!! NUTS?? GO READ A BOOK.
This is the art of plain communication in the drenches.
Or take the so-called “Birthers,” a peculiar contingent who [SAY they] believe Obama wasn’t born in America and is in the White House illegally. The state of Hawaii says it receives so many letters from Birthers demanding proof that Obama was born there that they now ignore the requests.
Obama can look past such lunacy. He has to. But the CSFU can’t. It would be my obligation to address such unrealistic thinking with all the grace and finesse of a swinging two-by-four. During a press conference, I’d tell it straight: REALLY? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DO YOU REALIZE THAT IF HE DIDN’T HAVE UNDENIABLE, INCONTESTABLE PROOF OF WHERE HE WAS BORN, A MAN WITH A NAME LIKE BARACK OBAMA RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WOULD HAVE BEEN RUN OUT OF TOWN WITHIN THE FIRST FIVE #$%@!! MINUTES OF HIS #$%@!! CAMPAIGN? YOUR ILK WOULD HAVE SEEN TO IT; THAT’S WHAT YOU PEOPLE DO. YOU KNOW THIS IS NOT THE TRUTH. NOW SHUT THE #$%@!! UP AND GET BACK TO TRACKING BIG FOOT.
The CSFU would have the indelicate task of negotiating actuality. In other words, to tell it like it is.
You’re probably wondering, as President Obama would, what my qualifications are for such a gig. Well, much of my training comes from watching TV news shows such as “Meet The Press” and yelling to the screen when the likes of Dick Armey, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove and the inimitable John Boehner take turns blowing enough hot air to make global warming jealous.
I listen to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and get the sad and distinct impression that somewhere in America’s heartland a small, off-brand circus is missing a clown. And I imagine that circus watching Steele stumble through his RNC tenure and being too embarrassed to step forward and claim him.
However, my chief credential for becoming Czar of Shut the #$%@!! Up is common sense. Like other Americans, I know when I smell a hot steaming pile. And I know when enough is enough.
I don’t need much to do the job. Just a small office at the White House, some business cards, a top-of-the-line megaphone when I’m out in the field. And my own official seal. I need a logo at my podium. And on my jacket, like the President wears when he flies Air Force One.
Mostly what I need is to be officially charged with publicly reminding Sarah Palin that she is dumb as a #$%@!! chair. I can do it now, but I need the force of the government behind me. I need to tell the Tea Party that their despicable, rhythm-challenged jig is up; we know they are the daytime arm of the KKK.
I need the far-reaching authority to walk onto the set of any TV news program in America in the middle of a live interview with any politician, grab the microphone and say, DID YOU HEAR WHAT HE JUST ASKED YOU?? ANSWER THE #$%@!! QUESTION OR SHUT THE #$%@!! UP, GET THE #$%@!! UP OUTTA HERE, AND I’LL PUT ON A #$%@!! CARTOON IN YOUR SEGMENT. Sometimes ignorance doesn’t deserve diplomacy. Certain untruths you simply have to meet at the dank, dark hole from which they ooze.
Oh, and I’ll need some security.
And though I’d be appointed by Obama, the Czar’s office would be fiercely bipartisan–which means I’d have to tell the Democratic party to grow some if it intends to use the sword it wields.
That’s where my would-be boss and the Czar would differ. Whereas I’d have told someone where to stuff it a long time ago, Obama is the king of cool-keeping. That’s really how he got the job in the first place. He knows that screaming and shouting only brings one down to their level. Submarine low. R. Kelly writes songs about that kind of lowism.
I know. The President would never create such an office, let alone recruit me for the post. But a guy can #$%@!! dream, right?
Steven Ivory is a journalist/author who has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected]