[Expletive Deleted]

by Jay Nordlinger

In his post on the Mooch, profanity, etc., Nick Frankovich mentions the Nixon transcripts and “[expletive deleted].” I had a memory — of Stephen Ambrose, who came to talk to some of us students. He was working on his biography of Nixon (three volumes). He said he had learned something about “[expletive deleted].” Everyone assumed that Nixon was the most foul-mouthed person in the world, he said. But the deletions turned out to be a lot of hells and damns. Ambrose’s theory was that the president had said to his secretary, “Take out the rough stuff, Rose” — and Rose Mary Woods was a woman with certain standards.

P.S. I once used “[expletive deleted]” in a concert review. Why, I don’t know. But I did. Anyway, when the review appeared, the word “deleted” had been taken out. All you saw was “[expletive],” which was dumb. It turned out my editor, a young woman, had had no idea about the Watergate transcripts.

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