Our Lexis/Nexis account has expired, so we're not one hundred per cent sure, but it looks like this is one of the first times The Times has used the word "shit" in its pages. (Or on its screens; maybe they prefer to use the web to work blue.) The occasion, of course, came during a conversation between President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, which the president did not know was being transmitted over a live mike:
"I feel like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen," he said to Mr. Blair, referring to Syria's president, Bashir Assad. "See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," Mr. Bush said. [Audio Excerpt mp3]
So, three questions: First, does this indeed mark the debut appearance of a barnyard epithet for manure in The Gray Lady? Second, is the new policy to print foul language only when uttered by the president, or is it now open season for everyone on the staff? (For example, will Michiko Kakutani finally be able to write something like, "Though Mr. Updike manages to extract a fair amount of suspense from Ahmad's story, he does so with the heavy reliance on unbelievable coincidence. Seriously, this book is a piece of shit." And you just know she's dying to.) Third, now that swearing is in, instead of that big chunky byline on the Op-Ed page that reads "David Brooks," could it just say "Cocksucker"? Because that's kind of how we see it already.