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Obama, Romney: time to debate, and curse?

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Thu June 14, 2012
Have we neutered our politicians' passion by limiting their choice of words?
Have we neutered our politicians' passion by limiting their choice of words?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Americans love to curse, we use profanity every day
  • Obeidallah: We're hypocritical in holding our politicians to a ridiculously prudish standard
  • He proposes a debate in which the presidential candidates can use profanity
  • Obeidallah: Debate will allow Obama and Romney to show their unfiltered, human side

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- Fact: Americans love to curse. We, the people, use profanity every day. Some will deny this reality, but those people are [expletive] kidding themselves.

Cursing is in our movies, TV shows, books and magazines. It's also a big part of our daily conversations -- especially when we get passionate about something.

However, for some bizarre reason, we demand that our elected officials not speak like the rest of us. We condemn them for even the slightest bit of swearing in public.

Opinion: Ban swearing? No way!

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

For example, about a week ago, House Speaker John Boehner was rebuked for using these words when speaking to Republican House members: "Let's call bulls--- bulls---"

President Obama raised more than a few eyebrows when he stated in a 2010 television interview that he wanted to know "whose ass to kick" to get the cleanup of the BP oil spill moving faster.

And Vice President Joe Biden came under fire for saying to President Obama during the signing ceremony of the health care law: "This is a big f---- deal!"

We need to stop being so hypocritical in holding our politicians to a ridiculously prudish standard of communication. If we get worked up about an issue, we wouldn't just use the King's English to explain how we really feel -- we'd be adding some French.

But we have neutered our politicians' intensity and passion by limiting their choice of words. And then we wonder why so many of our elected officials -- and especially our presidential candidates -- seem so bland and hard to relate to.

I'm not saying elected officials should be dropping the "f-bomb" when talking to schoolchildren, but why not allow them to show more emotions? Even CEO recruiters now recognize that the use of profanity by corporate executives is acceptable because it is a mark of "authenticity" and "commitment."

Hence, I offer a proposal that will hopefully provide us a glimpse of our presidential candidates at their most raw: A debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney on HBO so that they can use all the profanity they feel is necessary to convey their views.

This debate format benefits both voters and the candidates. For voters, it will enable us to truly assess a candidate's commitment to an issue. Let's be brutally honest, what showcases more sincerity? "Read my lips, no new taxes," or, "Read my lips, no [expletive] taxes. I'm not [expletive] kidding!"

Plus we can see how our presidential candidates would respond to a barrage of criticism, which is a test of character. How would Romney respond to President Obama calling him: "The biggest [expletive] flip-flopper in political history?" Would Romney just stand there, smiling sheepishly, or would he respond by channeling Samuel L. Jackson and calling Obama: "The worst [expletive] president in American [expletive] history!"

The two candidates should support this proposed debate since it will give them a much needed chance to show Americans their unfiltered, human side -- something both Obama and Romney clearly need to work on.

I understand that some people object vehemently to any kind of vulgarity. Indeed, just this Monday, residents in Middleborough, Massachusetts, voted to issue a $20 fine to anyone who curses in public. And earlier this year, the City Council in Washington voted to ban council members from using dirty words in public meetings.

To those who think profanity undermines the decorum of the presidency, you may have missed the details in your college history class. Numerous presidents on both sides of the political aisle have been famous for their use of foul language, including Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the king of cursing: Richard Nixon. (At least on his private White House tapes.)

I'm not suggesting that using cuss words at a presidential debate will help end our nation's problems. But it might allow us to see our candidates at their most authentic self. And it will get us more interested and engaged in our democratic process.

Plus it will probably be the highest rated and the most quoted presidential debate in the history of our country.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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