Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The Washington Examiner's Charlie Spiering unearths a 1994 news story reported on a rodeo dummy modeled after George H.W. Bush:
In the wake of 'Clown-gate' at the Missouri State Fair, it appears that professional rodeo clowns will think twice before mocking the president.

But in 1994, Douglas A. Campbell, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer chronicled a rodeo clown even featuring George H.W. Bush.

From the report:
... Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick.

... Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence....
Yeah, this is why I haven't wanted to get too worked up about the Missouri rodeo clown who had an Obama dummy -- I had a feeling the righties would find a Republican president being mocked the same way. For that matter, I found (and paid a whole $2.95 for) a 1989 Dallas Morning News story about a rodeo clown named John Gilstrap:
Another part of his act is a traditional rodeo dummy, weathered and duct-taped, that he sets up to throw the bulls off guard. The body is made of wood, the clothes are tattered overalls and the face is a scrawled-on mask of former President Reagan.

"I tried to disguise it a bit,' he laughs. "I'm not political, but if some of those people who are crazy about Reagan were out in the audience and they knew it was Reagan's face getting rammed by the bulls, they'd pitch a fit.'
And then on the Democratic side, there's this 2001 story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which I have only in excerpt:
Nasty politics poisons State Fair rodeo

On Thursday afternoon, I took four young boys to the rodeo at the State Fair. The show opened with the usual patriotic speeches, odes to democracy and American flags. So I was appalled during the bull-riding contest when an effigy of former President Bill Clinton was placed in the ring as bait for the bulls.

The bulls repeatedly knocked the effigy of Clinton into the dirt as the rodeo clowns and announcer Boyd Polhamus made whimpering sounds over the PA system....
The Google search results that got me to this story quote a bit more of it:
The rodeo clowns also kicked and stomped the dummy, while Polhamus and the clowns made various mocking comments comparing Hillary Rodham Clinton to cattle.
So this nonsense goes on all the time.


Meanwhile, elsewhere at the Washington Examiner, Byron York is saddened by the fact that the rodeo clown with the Obama act has been banned from the Missouri State Fair for life. (I don't feel sorry or the guy because I bet this will get him plenty of work elsewhere.)* York decides to play compare and contrast:
As far as the use of violent imagery and the president is concerned, the Bush years saw imagery much more serious than a bump from a bull. For example, the 2006 film "Death of a President" was a faux-documentary that told the story of a fictional Bush assassination, including a graphic depiction of the Bush character being shot in the chest. After its premiere at the Toronto film festival, where it won the International Critics Prize, "Death of a President" was handled by a major American distributor, Newmarket Films, and was reviewed, seriously and on its own terms, by the Washington Post, New York Times and other major press outlets. The film's makers were not banned for life from the movie industry or anything else; the director has since made several films that have shown at festivals around the world and is now working on a documentary on David Bowie.

In the 2004 novella "Checkpoint," author Nicholson Baker depicted a conversation between two men planning to assassinate Bush. "He's one dead armadillo," says one character, speaking of the president. The Washington Post was impressed by the book's "fanciful flourishes and fierce, furious fits of anger." Baker was not banned from anything and is still writing and being published today.
Well, Death of a President grossed a whopping half a million dollars in its not-particularly-successful theatrical run in the U.S.; that wasn't even enough to earn back its $2 million budget. And maybe The Washington Post said nice things about Checkpoint, but the first four words of the review in The New York Times (by Leon Wieseltier) were "This scummy little book."

Oh, and Democratic presidents get this treatment, too: Recall Charles McCarry's 1998 novel Lucky Bastard, an "undisguised novelistic smear of President Clinton":
The Bill Clinton character isn't just a spineless politician with an unquenchable sexual appetite -- he's an agent of the Soviet Union! And a rapist!

The Hillary character isn't just a schemer -- she's a colonel in the KGB! And a murderer!

... the only laugh in the book comes near the end, when the Susan McDougal character tries to assassinate the Bill Clinton character with a poisoned suppository.
Yup, a poisoned suppository.

So let's just call this whole thing more or less a wash.


*UPDATE: First job offer from the wingnuts for this rodeo clown comes from Congressman Steve Stockman. Here's his press release:
Stockman invites Missouri rodeo clown to perform in Texas

Liberals want to bronco bust dissent, create a state of fear

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Steve Stockman Wednesday invited the rodeo clowns who performed at the Missouri State Fair, and were banned or ordered into "sensitivity training" when one clown mocked President Barack Obama, to perform at a rodeo in Texas' 36th District.

Fair officials did not reveal the clown's identity.

"Liberals want to bronco bust dissent. But Texans value speech, even if its speech they don't agree with," said Stockman, "From Molly Ivins to Louie Gohmert and every opinion between Texans value free and open political speech. I'm sure any rodeo in Texas would be proud to have performers."

"Disagreeing with speech is one thing. Banning it and ordering citizens into reeducation classes for mocking a liberal leader is another," said Stockman. "Liberals have targeted this man for personal destruction to create a climate of fear."

"The liberal reaction is straight out of Alinsky. They want to crush dissent by isolating and polarizing anyone who questions Obama, even if it's a rodeo clown with a harmless gag," said Stockman. "The idea to create a state of fear and make people afraid to trivialize Obama. No one tried to personally destroy the rodeo clown who wore a George H.W. Bush mask."
Alinsky? Seriously?


duffandnonsense said...

And just as I was beginning to be cheered by all this evidence of American irreverence towards their very own lying-liars you spoiled it all with this news:

"the fact that the rodeo clown with the Obama act has been banned from the Missouri State Fair for life".

What a bunch of po-faced miseries they are in Missouri! 'Over here', Gillray was doing this sort of thing some 200-odd years ago:


David Duff

Dark Avenger said...

Why don't you limit your limited rantings to your own blog?

Victor said...

"So let's just call this whole thing more or less a wash."

And I need a shower after reading this post.

Philo Vaihinger said...

With duffandnonsense. People need to chill.

duffandnonsense said...

Well said, Philo!

Overclock speedy said...

But just like Hitler signs and everything else... it's OK when the target is white, it's not OK when the target is black. Plus it gives us a chance to call the wingnuts racists which pisses them off.

Sorry, but this is more ammo to paint Republicans as racists, I intend to use it. And if they bitch I'll just say it's not OK because Obama is black.

Ten Bears said...

Living out here on The High Desert and attending as I do (and have for much of sixty years) a half dozen or more rodeos and pow wows each year I have to agree with Steve that this is much ado about nothing.

If anything speedy you're being baited. The reichwingers don't need your help exhibting their inherent racism. You don't need ammunition, just give 'em enough rope and they'll hang themselves.

No fear.

Overclock speedy said...

Bashing conservatives as racist helps create the narrative that anyone not voting D is racist. That sort of peer pressure works to make more people vote for our side.

I could give a shit less if it's honest or not. I enjoy it and if I can shame someone into voting for my side even if they don't want to I'll take that chance.

Jimmi the Grey said...

Though i am in the 'much ado about nothing' camp on this 'issue', i would point out that all given rodeo counter-examples were of former presidents as opposed to sitting ones. The difference is subtle yet distinct.

Aunt Snow said...

"Banned for life" from the Missouri rodeo - well, that's a pretty harsh blow, huh? Not to say the fellow can't work for the Kansas or Nebraska or Arkansas rodeo.

And Overclock, anyone tells you you've "shamed" them into voting against the way they want, you're hearing what they tell you, not what they actually do.

giantslor said...

Alinsky has gone from the wingnuts' boogeyman to their guru, and they don't even realize it. I guarantee more tea party operatives than liberal operatives have read "Rules for Radicals."

flipyrwhig said...

Aren't all of those examples conservative populists being vile? It doesn't seem like it was liberals mocking Republican presidents. Ergo it doesn't seem like a case of "both sides do it."