Cussin’ and talkin’ dirty is ugly stuff, ugliest of all in the mouths of women, who, despite everything the feminists can do to insist on equality (with a few caveats), are usually a little more refined than men. Most of them. Most of the time.
It’s a credit to their sex that women are rarely good at either cussin’ or telling what were once called “smutty stories.” Most women think the woman is always the butt of the joke, even when it’s usually the man cast as hapless jerk who humiliates himself in an absurd pursuit of elusive prey. A woman with a good repertoire of abuse is occasionally said to be able to “cuss like a man,” but she more resembles the woman preaching in Dr. Johnson’s famous jibe, “like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
On the other hand, a talented teamster with a brace of ornery mules, headed to the sawmill with a heavy load of fresh-cut pine logs, could keep up a string of obscene abuse for fully two or three minutes without ever repeating himself. Not many dirty mouths, male or female, can do that. Who would want to?
Nobody cultivates a dirtier mouth than Hillary Clinton. It’s difficult to describe Hillary in full because a decent regard for the gentle reader forbids it. Any teamster, cop, or Secret Service agent assigned to Hillary duty has to put his hands over his ears even to think about it.
Several authors, notably Ronald Kessler, formerly of The Washington Post, have written about Hillary’s tense and often explosive relationship with the Secret Service. The slightest inconvenience, real or imagined, could detonate the virago’s fiery temper. Hillary is regarded as the all-time undisputed least favorite assignment in the Secret Service. Joe Biden is second-least favorite, particularly by female agents. Good ol’ Joe apparently likes to walk around without clothes when and where he can, being proud of his male endowment, and sometimes teases the female agents about it.
It’s old news that there’s no scarcity of boy-girl fun and games on Capitol Hill as well as in the White House. Strom Thurmond was still trying to play the game at age 100, and if he played the game mostly on the bench in his 10th decade (settling for the occasional pinch when he came upon a young lady bending over the groaning board at a cocktail party to spear a shrimp), he could still suit up for the right occasion. The game that Donald Trump describes on that infamous tape is played with enthusiasm in Washington (“Hollywood for ugly people”).
Hillary, by the published accounts, is an equal-opportunity offender, insulting people, dogs and cats, even the flag, going back to her late and lamented days as a governor’s wife in Arkansas. She was particularly abusive to troopers and agents assigned to make her life easier and who were in no position to do anything but take her abuse. She was so verbally abusive to the pilots of Marine One, the presidential helicopter, that the crew called the chopper “Broomstick One.” Just not in her presence.
The required emendations and abbreviations sacrifice the full flavor of some of Hillary’s greatest hits, but there’s this famous Hillary shoutout to a Secret Service agent who was reluctant to carry her suitcase because he wanted to keep his hands free to deal with an incident: “If you want to remain on this detail, get your f-ing ass over here and grab these bags.”
To a state trooper-bodyguard in Arkansas who greeted her with a cheerful “Good morning,” as recounted in Christopher Anderson’s book, “American Evita”: “F- off! It’s enough I have to see you s—- kickers every day. I’m not going to talk to you, too. Just do your g-damn job and keep your mouth shut.”
To a state trooper at the Governor’s Mansion, as told in “Inside the White House” by Ronald Kessler: “Where is the g-damn flag? I want the g-damn flag up every morning at f-ing sunrise.”
There’s more, lots more, but repeating it would embarrass the Donald.
Cussin’ and dirty talk is an odd and unexpected issue in a presidential campaign, but this campaign is unlike any before. Earlier candidates indulged in salty talk — JFK and LBJ, for example, were connoisseurs of the art — but they lived in a more fortunate time before everyone carried a smartphone with camera and recorder in it and with a dozen websites eager to buy their stuff. The smart pol today learns quickly that the “private conversation” is a relic of the distant past.
• Wesley Pruden is editor-in chief-emeritus of The Times.