Cuss it Gets Attention

Carl Levin might have a blue streak in him---something he's kept closeted until recently---but he still has a long way to go before he can touch the master.

According to

U.S. Sen. Levin (D-Michigan) was taking testimony of several Goldman Sachs executives alleged to have sold what they knew to be a toxic $1 billion collateralized debt obligation to unwitting investors. While grilling the bankers, Levin quoted from a 2007 e-mail from one former Goldman exec describing the transaction, known as "Timberwolf."

Here's where Levin cut loose.

"Look what your sales team was saying about Timberwolf," said Levin, the committee chair. "'Boy, that Timberwolf was one sh---y deal.' They sold that sh---y deal ... 'Boy, that timber was one sh---y deal.' How much of that sh---y deal did you sell to your clients? ... You didn't tell them you thought it was a sh---y deal ... You knew it was a sh---y deal ... How about the fact that you sold hundreds of millions on that deal after your people knew it was a sh---y deal? Does that bother you at all?"

All told, Sen. Levin used the word "sh**y"11 times.

Maybe ole Carl learned a bit from his time spent on the Detroit City Council (1969-77).

Levin spent eight years on council, and the last four of those overlapped the first term of Mayor Coleman Young.

Now THERE was a cusser extraordinaire.

Hizzoner considered swearing an art---literally. He said so, on numerous occasions.

What else do you expect from a man whose desk had the famous nameplate that said, "The Motherf***ing Mayor"?

Young could cut loose in epic fashion. Most of it was in private, but the roaming microphones and cameras around town caught a few samplings over the years, too.

Young in a 1989 portrait snapped by the great Tony Spina of the Free Press

I remember watching a bootlegged outtake reel made by some folks who were making a promotional video for the city. In it, Young is making an introduction to the city on behalf of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Suddenly, Young let loose with a barrage of "F" words that had the video crew guffawing in the background.


Young was a potty mouth and he didn't care who knew it. To his dying day he believed swearing to be a legitimate method of colorful communication.

Even the supposedly refined have taken to using Young's tactics.

Vice President Joe Biden was caught on microphone telling President Barack Obama that the passage of health care reform was "a big [effing] deal;" and Sen. Jim Bunning told a fellow senator pleading that he cease his filibuster on extending unemployment benefits, "tough s---."

But it was Coleman A. Young who had them all beat.

Swearing, he always believed, got people's attention.

Thirty-three years after leaving city politics, Sen. Levin finally adopted Young's gospel.


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