No, no, not a reference to the guy in the picture -- though that skinny, brown-haired 32-year-old should not be overlooked despite the ciggie -- but to the implement of destruction in front of him.
All microphones should be considered "on." Don't rely on the red light. Don't say anything in the studio that you wouldn't want to go out over the air.
That said, there are hot mike stories and there are hot mike non-stories, and, as the Huffington Blog's Eat The Press page notes, the Bush hot mike event was a non-story. He didn't reveal any state secrets, and the fact that he used a scatalogical term for "stuff" is ... well, maybe humanizing, maybe boring, but hardly shocking. And it's absurd for anyone who has ever worked around microphones to be getting the vapors over this -- they've all got much better stories they could tell.
Anyway, doesn't anybody remember the derivation of the term "expletive deleted" anymore? Hell, we've heard a lot worse language from a lot better presidents.
And I don't mean that one. I'd have still said "better" but maybe not "a lot better."
However, as a for instance, here's CJR's Gloria Cooper reviewing "Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965":
... conversation between Louisiana's Senator Russell Long, literally begging that the Shreveport post office not be closed, and LBJ, refusing to help until they "get those damn Birchites out of that newspaper [the ultraconservative Shreveport Times] that called me a dirty, low-down, thieving, son of a bitch every day" for signing the civil rights bill. Though Long pleads that "we've got some good people who own that Times-Picayune who are hoping to buy that paper," Johnson will not be moved. "It hurts me not to do anything you want to do," he tells Long. "But God Almighty, don't you pick out the cross-eyed, stuttering, bowlegged girl and bring her up and say, 'Now, listen, this ought to be the beauty queen, and you name her, by God, and it's a favor to me!'"
Imagine what sorts of things he said when he didn't know the mike was hot!