For the past few weeks, the popular satire newspaper The Onion has been running stories in this [sic] briefs section that put the outgoing president through massive physical trauma... and then forgo a punch line…. Hilarious or too dark?Well, first off, The Onion is not literally bashing Bush or we would have noticed the bruises by now and the Secret Service would be hauling off several scraggly comedy writers. The Onion is only figuratively bashing Bush (HuffPo eds: note critical distinction) in scenarios that do indeed put the president through massive physical trauma but also feature clever allegorical elements. (Big hint for HuffPo eds: The Onion writers traumatize Bush much as Bush has traumatized the world.)
Here, for example, is The Onion's Bush Passes Three-Pound Kidney Stone, with emphasis added.
WASHINGTON—President Bush collapsed in the Oval Office after spontaneously expelling a 3-pound kidney stone from his bladder, sources reported Tuesday. According to witnesses, the president was attending his daily Iraq War briefing when he suddenly began shrieking loudly and clutching his abdomen, a mixture of blood and urine pooling rapidly around his feet. Bush was able to maintain consciousness through more than 20 minutes of excruciating pain, even after the jagged, grapefruit-sized crystal aggregation shredded his urethra and dropped from his left pant leg, finally rolling to a stop on the presidential seal in the middle of the Oval Office carpet. Bush is resting comfortably at Bethesda Naval Hospital.There is more to this little story than you might realize at first glance.
A comparison is being made between the death and injuries of American soldiers in Iraq (blood) and Bush's comically outsized civilian kidney stone (urine, which is associated with cowardice; the huge size of the stone represents Bush's legendary incompetence). Bush has pissed his pants (the pool of liquid around his feet). That he managed to maintain consciousness for "more than 20 minutes" is a jibe at Bush's also legendary inability to focus on details (attention deficit disorder).
The kidney stone shreds Bush's urethra (denoting wishful castration/impotence or, at the very least, incontinence); rolls down his left leg (left=Democratic presidential victory); and comes to rest on the presidential seal, symbolizing the disgrace that Bush's cowardly false bravado has brought to both the office and the country. The presidential seal itself is in the middle of the Oval Office carpet, a piece of interior decoration Bush is very proud of (he always points it out to visitors) and which with its huge sunburst is itself very yellow (cf. urine).
After the crisis, Bush, as always, remains obliviously at peace with himself, “resting comfortably.”
Is this at all funny? Well, everyone's sense of humor is unique. But as I said, there's more going on here than you might think after one reading.
Can I have my honorary degree now?
Partially cross-posted at Democratic Underground.