Obama fails the Norman Mailer test [UPDATED]

After reviewing a transcript of President Nixon’s secret tapes, Norman Mailer commented in The New Yorker, “He lacks the simple New York smart to keep the obscenities in. . . We still do not know if he even swears well.”

As for President Obama, we now know that he doesn’t:

Just before the Congressional recess, President Obama invited over a dozen Senate and House leaders from both parties to the White House to talk about foreign policy. According to two lawmakers inside the meeting, Obama became visibly agitated when confronted by bipartisan criticism of the White House’s policy of slow-rolling moderate Syrian rebels’ repeated requests for arms to fight the Assad regime and ISIS.

According to one of the lawmakers. . .the president defended his administration’s actions on Syria, saying that the notion that arming the rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria was “horseshit.”

For the record, and trust me on this, “horseshit” means bad; “bullshit” means wrong.

Obama undoubtedly meant that it is wrong to believe that arming rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria. Trying to be edgy, the president mis-cursed. Norman Mailer must be spinning in his grave.

Actually, though, Obama arguably got it right (albeit accidentally) insofar as Hillary Clinton’s criticism of him is concerned. Clinton’s attack on the administration isn’t wrong. However, it can be regarded as bad, or least inappropriate, for her to be breaking ranks and trying to make herself look good at the expense of the administration she served.

In any event, the criticism clearly has gotten under Obama’s skin. That’s a good thing if one believes that the result will be better foreign policy going forward.

Unfortunately, that notion is, well, you know.

UPDATE: Hmmm. I’m getting push back on my definition of horseshit. It seems that these days, the two words — bullshit and horseshit — have become closer in meaning, such that Obama’s use of the term was appropriate.

The distinction, according to one reader, is that bullshit is the result of an intentional act, whereas horseshit is the result of stupidity or ignorance. If so, one doesn’t always know which animal one is dealing with.

Originally, though, horseshit meant irredeemably bad. It gained currency mainly as the curse word of choice in baseball. A pitcher’s slider might be horseshit. So might his sports coat. Umpires had horseshit strike zones, eyesight, and/or attitude.

It was a better, clearer world back then.

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