Context Is Everything, Including In Ass Kicking

There has been a lot of talk about an answer Obama gave to a question with the headlines decreasing it to limited sound bites such as “Obama looking for ‘whose ass to kick'” from CNN. Out of context this sounds too much like Bush-type bravado. It sounds much different when placed in context:

LAUER: Critics are now talking about your style, which is the first time I’ve heard that in a long time. They’re saying here is a guy who likes to be known as cool and calm and collected, and this isn’t the time for cool, calm and collected. This is not the time to meet with experts and advisers; this is a time to spend more time in the Gulf and — I never thought I’d say this to a president — but kick some butt. And I don’t mean it to be funny.

OBAMA: No, and I understand. And here’s what — I’m going to push back hard on this. Because I think that this is a — just an idea that got in folks heads, and the media’s run with it. I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf. A month ago I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar. We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers so I know whose ass to kick.

It would be one thing if Obama had planned to talk about kicking ass. It is different when he responds in such a manner to a question about kicking some butt.

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