The New York Times reported that President Barack Obama has spoken privately of "going Bulworth," a reference to the 1998 Warren Beatty movie about a California Senate candidate who becomes unusually honest after having run as a centrist Democrat.
"Probably every president says that from time to time," Obama adviser David Axelrod told the Times. “It’s probably cathartic just to say it. But the reality is that while you want to be truthful, you want to be straightforward, you also want to be practical about whatever you’re saying."
The anecdote comes as the president has his reelection behind him and faces a trifecta of controversies over IRS targeting of the tea party, the handling of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and the Department of Justice's seizure of the telephone records of Associated Press journalists.
Obama, known for being cool to the point of detached, has been unusually straightforward against his political opponents in recent weeks. He called the Republican criticism over the Benghazi talking points a political "sideshow."
"There's no 'there' there," he said. "The fact that this keeps on getting churned up, frankly, has a whole lot to do with political motivations."
And following the defeat of a bipartisan amendment to expand background checks on gun purchases, Obama used strong language against the gun lobby, saying it had "willfully lied" to make people believe the bill created a federal gun registry, which it expressly did not.
While Obama, unlike Bulworth, is not likely to show up drunk at a campaign event or start rapping, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April, he used a joke to express his genuine frustration with Congress. "Some folks still don’t think I spend enough time with Congress,” he said. “‘Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?’ they ask. Really? Why don’t you get a drink with Mitch McConnell?"
He continued, "I’m sorry. I get frustrated sometimes."