Shoe-tossing No Laughing Matter

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - December 24, 2008

It has become a punchline on late-night talks shows, but the shoe-throwing incident targeting President Bush was no laughing matter. What’s most troubling is the president’s security detail was left, dare I say, flat-footed.

The bottom line is the president was subjected to an attack. The culprit was subdued, but not until after he was able to hurl both shoes at Bush 43. Take a look at the tape. The president did a pretty good job of dodging the offending footwear. But it’s unsettling to think someone can get that close to the president harboring such violent tendencies. You’ll notice it was not until the shoes missed the president that we see any reaction from the security detail. Joke about this incident as much as you want. But understand that our president was subjected to an insulting affront with the potential for even greater harm. Despite how you feel about Bush, no U.S. president should be vulnerable to such aggression.

Speaking of late-night political jabs, a recent Saturday Night Live episode featured a bit of ribbing Democrat New York Gov. David Paterson. Paterson, who is legally blind, ascended to the governorship in the wake of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s scandal-driven resignation. The premise of the skit was a fairly sophomoric exploitation of Paterson’s sight, or lack thereof. It included holding a chart upside down and his character wandering into the shot of a later scene. OK, it’s pretty juvenile humor.

However, there were catcalls and handwringing over the SNL bit. Gov. Paterson’s office issued a terse response highly critical of the comedy show while blindness advocacy groups castigated the show for perpetrating the negative stereotypes of sight-challenged people.

Yes, the humor was somewhat sophomoric, yet where was the volume of protest when SNL inferred that Gov. Sarah Palin’s child was a product of incest? Such an outrageous portrayal was virtually ignored by media and was treated with a collective wink and a nod. There is no doubt that conservatives are skewered disproportionately more than their liberal counterparts on late-night (or any other day part) television. It’s interesting that what constitutes offensiveness in media is determined by political association.

Speaking of Gov. Paterson, he recently announced that New York is facing a $15.4 billion budget deficit. The strategy he is advocating, in the worst economic condition in recent memory, is the implementation of 88 new fees and taxes. New Yorkers may be facing an “iPod” tax, where downloaded entertainment material will cost more. Other proposed tax hikes would target movie tickets, taxi rides, soda, beer, wine, cigars and massages, while cable and satellite TV service would cost more, too.

With a gubernatorial election in 2010, we could see a dramatic turn in our present fiscal management and the headlines we are reading today could be ours tomorrow.

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