President Obama, in January, said: "We have to be careful about what we say about each other sometimes because it boxes us in in ways that makes it difficult for us to work together...So just a tone of civility instead of slash-and-burn would be helpful."
President Obama, in May at the University of Michigan, said: "Now, the second way to keep our democracy healthy is to maintain a basic level of civility in our public debate....we can't expect to solve our problems if all we do is tear each other down. (Applause.) You can disagree with a certain policy without demonizing the person who espouses it....The problem is that this kind of vilification and over-the-top rhetoric closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines democratic deliberation. It prevents learning...It makes it nearly impossible for people who have legitimate but bridgeable differences to sit down at the same table and hash things out. It robs us of a rational and serious debate, the one we need to have about the very real and very big challenges facing this nation. It coarsens our culture, and at its worst, it can send signals to the most extreme elements of our society that perhaps violence is a justifiable response. ...Changing this type of politics is not easy. And part of what civility requires is that we recall the simple lesson most of us learned from our parents: Treat others as you would like to be treated, with courtesy and respect."
President Obama, on May 27, asked about the "boot on the neck" of BP comments by his interior secretary and press secretary, said: "I would say that, you know, we don't need to use language like that; what we need is actions that make sure that BP is being held accountable."
This morning, on NBC, about the oil spill, President Obama said: "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."
So much for "civility." Who thinks the ass-kicking comment was spontaneous and off-the-cuff, and who thinks it was discussed, scripted, or planned beforehand with Rahm Emanuel or David Axelrod?
Update: CNBC's Becky Quick calls the president "silly," says the comment "doesn't ring true," and advises him to choose his words "more carefully."