There has been much talk lately about the President's statement that his new mission in life is to find out "whose ass to kick" re: the BP oil spill. Jon Stewart has declared the opening of "AssQuest 2010." Bloggers are now referring to "President Kick-Ass." And everyone is trying to figure out exactly how Barack will kick his own.
This kind of language used to be described as "salty." Remember when George Bush said in a Navy officer's ear the morning after a debate (off-mike, he assumed) that "we really kicked ass last night." The media were in an uproar. Such language! From a Navy man! The shock, the horror!
Nowadays it's no big deal. In fact my local newspaper, and many others, admire the president for "talking tough." (This is not the same as being tough. But it's as close as he's gotten so far, so I guess the paper wants to be encouraging. "Good boy, Barry! Now let's try to apply that to our actions, OK? Here's a cookie.".)
The real problem, for yours truly, with the President's statement is this:
The man has gone and ruined a perfectly good phrase.
Who will be able to describe anything as "kick-ass" again without everyone assuming you're being ironic? "Kick-ass" will come to mean "in as wimpy a fashion as possible." Or "pointlessly noisy." Or "I'll sit here with my hands folded."
I used to like to say I belonged to a kick-ass parish. And I do. But now I'll have to find a whole new phrase. "K-a" has lost its meaning. And I for one mourn its passing.