In the movie review article of Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” in the New Yorker magazine (November 14) titled “the Man in Charge,” there was the following sentence:
“A single scene with Robert F. Kennedy in the early sixties, when, as Attorney General, he was Hoover’s boss—stands in for Hoover’s relations with the various Presidents who longed to be rid of him but didn’t dare show him the door. Hoover tells Kennedy that he has evidence of his brother’s sexual escapades with dubious women, and his job remains intact.”
I noticed the writer (David Demby) used the phrase “various Presidents longed to “be rid of” Hoover,” instead of “get rid of” Hoover and show him the door.
As I checked the difference of meaning between “be rid of” and “get rid of” with a dictionary at hand (Sanseido’s The Wisdom Dictionary), it defines “be rid of” as “be released from nuisance / trouble,” and “get rid of” as “remove (expel) nuisance / trouble.”
Oxford Dictionary also defines “get rid of” as “take action so as to be free” and “be rid of” as “be freed or relieved of.”
If the above definitions apply to the above quote, “be rid of” sounds oddly passive, inactive, and somewhat derogative to a president’s authority to me, and I wonder why the most powerful man in America needed to mercifully “be rid of” one of his mere subordinates, not “get rid of” him to show the door, if he found his subordinate a grave obstacle to his governance, no matter how the latter brandishes his power.
Did the author intend to say all presidents who had dealt with Hoover were bound hand and foot by Hoover for almost 50 years and wished simply to "be rid of"?
Is it improper to use “get rid of,” instead of “be rid of” Hoover?