Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoes for Bush: The End Late Night Chuckles?

It's possible, if you've been busy with holiday shopping and preparing to bid 2008 farewell, that you missed news footage of an Iraqi journalist hurling shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference in Iraq Sunday. And if you admire President Bush and possibly if you don't admire him but fully support reasonable decorum even in protest, the journalist's behavior appalled you: "How dare anyone throw anything at the President of the United States!"

Hate to tell you, but you're probably in the minority on this one. Comedians will and already are having a field day with the case of Bush's not-so lame ducking of the "shoes heard around the world" and ordinary citizens are laughing their rears off at all the spoofs. Some even applaud the shoe pitching.

If you missed the shoe incident, you can see video at this link. On it, the president ducks and dives the size-10 missiles as security races to tackle journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who had shouted at Bush, "This is a farewell kiss you dog!"

Acting with the speed that defines our world today, "shoes vs. Bush" parodies popped up online. CNN shows a sample on the the video below, which also includes people rating Bush's ability to duck and dodge. One man said the president appears to be quite agile. A woman says Bush is doing what he's always done. Children ask, "How could anyone manage to throw not one but two shoes at the president?" And in the market, reports CNN, a Bush shoe-target purse is on sale.

The last time I recall Bush making shoe-related news was in 2006 when Wisconsin shoe company Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corp gave him the custom-made red white and blue wingtips that the president sports in the picture below. However, Bush's cussing about Middle East woes in Tony Blair's ear during the G8 Summit overshadowed his wholesome photo op in wingtips as well as the photo op at the G8 lunch. W. has rarely gotten a break in the last eight years. His errors have been on constant display.

bush wing tips

Bush is a snappy dresser, but I doubt he'll be highlighting any stories about him and shoes soon. What president wants to stand out as the only one to have shoes thrown at him during a news conference?

Yet thanks to the Net, the story may live forever. Reported on CNN and linked at Wonkette is The Official G.W. Bush Shoe Throw Game. So, you too may toss a shoe at W., and if you'd only like to watch, YouTube's got the video parodies mentioned in the CNN video, such as this one a Bush-shoe/Austin Powers mashup.

Happy Catholic is not laughing at the shoe incident, but neither is she dismayed at the shoehaaha. She says Bush ducking shoes made her "like him even more," and she appreciates how the president answered questions about the incident afterward. Bush told reporters, "The other shoe just dropped. Look, I’m going to be thinking of shoe jokes for a long time. I haven’t heard any good ones yet."

Well, Mr. President get ready for a slew of shoe jokes and puns also. Two in the CNN video are "shoeicide" and the "shoenibomber," and late night comics went nuts with shoe jokes:

I liked Jay Leno's quip, that Bush dodging the shoes caused the president to do something he's never done before, "lean to the left."

Comics are going to miss George W. Bush. They've been lamenting, with the election of Barack Obama, that they will lose the rich comedic material Bush always supplied. It's hard to make fun of Obama, say comics. In fact, his entering the Oval Office has been called a comedy crisis, and Bill Maher told Larry King the following in November:

King: You recently issued one of your new rules decreeing that Obama must give comedians something to work with. Any suggestions?

Maher: No. It's very difficult. We have been spoiled, first with Bill Clinton and then George Bush. And here's a president now who -- he's not stupid. He's not angry. He's not a phony. He's not fat. He's not cheating on his wife.

Who needs a jerk like that around for the next four years? Come on.


But look, he's going to be the president and we're going to have to get over our nervousness about making fun of a black person. He's not a black person. He's the president.

King: So then you must want Gov. Palin to stay around, comedically.

Maher: I do and she will. (Bill Maher)
Maher said this before the Iraqi shoe threat. Probably any American president could have something like this happen to him, even our President-elect. So, will comics see a comedic drought with Obama in office? LA Times entertainment writer Patrick Goldstein says that's unlikely:
I think their fears are vastly overstated. Bill Maher and Jon Stewart may be Obama admirers, but they're also professionals--they'll soon find something worthy of mocking, especially since Obama, being a churchgoer, would be a great target for a religionophobe like Maher. Remember, it took a couple of years of JFK residence in the White House before Vaughn Meader hit the jackpot with "The First Family" album. (The Big Picture)
He's correct, I'm sure. Comedians may be more careful to avoid distasteful racial humor, but that's probably a good thing for creativity, as comedian Tim Reid's written:
We're entering an era in which racial comedy will have to deal with creative thought rather than relying on the casual repeated use of the F word, the N word and the rest of the slackers' alphabet. In this changing frontier, how will we construct the new bases for racial humor?

Comedians won't stop living on the edge, which is where the best ones have always existed. And we did a lot of wacky things ourselves when we were traveling the country between 1969 and 1974, things we could never get away with today, such as the routine in which Tim taught Tom how to be black. The politically correct police would crucify us, or, even worse, post out-of-context snippets on YouTube for the blogosphere to go crazy over. (Time Reid)
Hmm. Cool. Reid's familiar with "the blogosphere."

As Maher said, Obama will still be the president and open for satirical jabbing whether we like it or not. How funny it seems to any one of us will probably correlate to how much we admire Obama and see him as untouchable.

Get ready. It won't be long before funny people find the president-elect's comic hot spot. And they need not be too timid searching for it as Obama can tell a joke or two himself and rib with the best.

As for Bush's farewell visit to Baghdad, I've asked, "Why did he go to Iraq to say good-bye anyway? Doesn't he know how many Iraqis don't like him?"

I've concluded Bush's farewell Baghdad visit is proof that he's not actually lying when he says the war in Iraq was a good decision. He believes he did the right thing for this nation and for Iraq, and probably all the shoe hurling in the world won't change that.

Oh, George. We'll miss the chuckles you've inspired. You deserve a 21-stiletto salute, figuratively of course.

Blogger's Note: Speaking of Tim Reid, BlogHer CE Megan Smith is preparing to interview him and sends out a call for questions at this link.

Cross-posted at BlogHer.com


Steve Ballmer said...

Shoes, eggs, pies, ... What next?

USpace said...

Dubya got a real kick out of this. In Saddam's day this reporter would have been fed to the plastic shredder, after watching his wife and daughters get gang-raped.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Bush was worse than Hitler

and Stalin and Mao
and the Devil combined
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help Halt Terrorism Today!


Coffee Monkey said...

these shoe throwing games are too funny, I guess this is freedom of speech in action...