I’d planned yesterday to write about the now-infamous comments by Laura Bush during her speech at the White House Correspondence Dinner last weekend…but after so much written already by others — mostly completely irreverant and/or stupid, to be blunt — allow me to reprint my comments that I shared on PATTERICO yesterday for the sake of efficiency. I’ve included an affirming comment that was added on that site in conjunction with my original comments from there, by a nice person (“Harry Arthur”) who understands what it is to live outside a city and interact with species other than ludicrously uninformed (or malformed, as the case seems in reference to Laura Bush’s comments) urbanites:
Here are my (and Harry’s) comments, reprinted from the original as they appear on PATTERICO:
(My comments): The entire thing just emphasises how out of touch most Americans are today with rural life and rural daily living experiences (tending herds, growing/harvesting food, life demands that don’t leave time nor provide utilities for a lot of internet accessible content).
BECAUSE, the thing about the horse, the male horse, that Laura Bush said was a standard and very old timey reference to a very old timey joke shared and laughed at by most farmers, ranchers and general small town folk who are familiar with horses.
ANYone who has ANY familiarity with MOST horses (not the kind that are manicured and tidy kept in barns that are designed by architects, wherein someone ELSE cleans, feeds and geers up your horse for you, but the kind of horse that you take care of yourself by providing them several acres, some shelter and who you know how to saddle yourself and do), anyway, ANYone with ANY familiarity with horses KNOWS that you cannot go so far as even TRY to place your hands on the thighs or stomach of a “male horse” without that male horse either biting you — if they’re very unfamiliar with people as some are — or mostly almost always rearing up and scaring the heck out of anyone who tries to do that before the horse then runs away. And will never come close to you again without a whole lot of time and patience involved by the offender.
You CANNOT even GET CLOSE ENOUGH to a “male horse” to even begin to “milk” a male horse (or anything else) and THAT’s the thing that is the joke for most more rural folks (at least those familiar with horses) (versus cows) because…just try it and see how fast your rear is on the ground, a giant steed is rearing over your head and you are scared and traumatized for life.
It’s a very old joke on ranches and farms by which a generally “green hand”, foolish knowitall who actually knows nothing is referred. You can always tell a knownothing when they insist on trying to approach a male horse and then trying to…milk the wrong gender…and then watch how quickly they run when they can finally get up off the ground.
Most people just assume the awful interpretation of that reference, that it related to George trying to interact with a male horse’s anatomy for other reasons, but it’s just an old farm/ranchers’ joke to describe a foolish, unskilled farmer/rancher.
Comment by -S- — 5/5/2005 @ 9:07 pm
(Harry’s comments): S, my point exactly, but better put. And I might add that anyone who’s spent any time with farm animals probably doesn’t see this as a sexual joke, rather a “city boy” joke which was as Laura intended it, I’m quite sure.
Comment by Harry Arthur — 5/6/2005 @ 5:36 am
(Me, again, new content here this time):
I am astounded by the amount of crud I’ve read on the internet in misunderstanding about the remarks made by Laura Bush in that appearance (written on her behalf by Landon Parvin), among them in Newsweek of all places, and by another “speech writer,” (who goes so far as to refer to C-SPAN viewers as “C-SPAN shut-ins”).
This is what you get when you raise an entire several last generations in highrises (or anywhere else) in Manhattan, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles: the deterioration of any awareness about that “environment” that so many of them are so foolhardy eagerly promoting. And yet who can’t even understand a Billy Bob joke from down on the farm if it rose up and was spoken in jest by a First Lady about her rancher husband in Texas.
And what you get when an entire generation on the internet knows nothing more about references to horses and farms in general than what they read on “X”-rated forums and in spam emails. It’s truly a sad statement about our country, that Laura Bush’s funny down-home amusement about a bumbling starter-upper rancher husband are filtered through the sexual references of others. Truly, it’s sad.
Here’s some of that sadness from a polished speechwriter:
“…This is where she complained that “Every night by 9 o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep and I’m watching ‘Desperate Housewives’ with Lynne Cheney”?
Mark Katz (author of “Clinton and Me,” Miramax Books, and former Clinton White House ‘joke’ writer)…
“Right. Just by associating herself with something that risque, she was reaching out to a broader demographic than she normally does. I doubt that Phyllis Schlafly was laughing hardest at that joke. And that joke about George Bush milking a male horse was reaching out to gay Americans.
“I’m joking. (ME Again, Note: No, he isn’t) [Laughs.] Well, actually, when I read it, it did occur to me that maybe it was. But maybe not.”
Now Katz moves into his “bite the ankle” mode on behalf of liberals everwhere:
“…Especially with someone as divisive as President Bush, with a sizeable portion of the population not liking him, people are forced to reconcile these two thoughts: “I don’t like him, but I’m laughing.” And that puts a crack in otherwise hardened opinions. That’s the real power of Washington humor.”
And now comes the Katz besmirching of the C-SPAN audience:
“Newsweek: And although these jokes start out in a hotel ballroom in front of an elite Washington crowd, they eventually make their way into the popular culture.
“Katz: It starts with the C-Span shut-ins and then gets into the mainstream news cycle…”
(Me, again): It’s not just processed food that is clogging our arteries, it is the fatty nonsense that has set in by too little exposure to what life is most about for most other humans outside the city limits: get up at four A.M. (maybe five), perk the coffee, toast the bread you (or yours) made a few days ago, scramble some eggs after you gather them (yourself) and then go feed everyone else (hay, alfalfa, bottles of milk, corn, grain, fresh water…). THEN you get to listen to the radio while you drive the unmarked road at six A.M. so you can do it — and everyone else has what they need — all over again tomorrow. And the next day after. Because you want to.
The worst and loudest complaints (or enjoyments) written all over the internet about Laura Bush’s remarks are from two polarized perspectives, but both meet in the mistaken territory that is the “too much sexual innuendo about everything” place that is nonsense to everyone else outside the prim or foul fringe.