As reported by the Kansas City Star:
YAEL T. ABOUHALKAH
Shameful Missouri State Fair stunt smears Obama
The taxpayer-supported Missouri State Fair got a lot of negative publicity Sunday following a report of a shameful stunt that occurred Saturday night in Sedalia.
The story by an eyewitness, Perry Beam, is posted to Daily Kos and Show Me Progress.
Fortunately, by late Sunday evening, The Star reported that many top officials — from Gov. Jay Nixon to leading Republicans —were denouncing the incident.
Basically, a clown wearing a mask of President Barack Obama came out during the bull riding event at the fair. The crowd was asked if it wanted to see Obama “run down by a bull.”
Things got worse from there, which doesn’t surprise me, given the anti-Obama feeling among many fairgoers from rural Missouri, where Obama lost to Mitt Romney (at least 60-40 percent in much of outlying parts of state) in 2012 election.
Egged on by the crowd and the announcer, “One of the clowns ran up and started bobbling the lips on the mask and the people went crazy. Finally, a bull came close enough to him that he had to move, so he jumped up and ran away to the delight of the onlookers hooting and hollering from the stands.”
Obviously this is a horrible show of respect for the President of the United States at a public event at the state fair— which got more than $400,000 from Missouri state taxpayers this year.
It’s also borderline illegal; the U.S. Secret Service takes threats against the president seriously. While the president himself was in no danger here, it’s the kind of stupid activity that could give nuts ideas about harming the president.
(UPDATE 5:40 p.m: Here is the apology from state fair officials for the “disrespectful” smear of Obama.)
This stunt is the kind of thing that will give Missouri — especially the rural parts — the wrong kind of attention.
Americans understand (but don’t have to like) the fact that there’s plenty of the verbal jousting that takes place in much of political discourse these days.
But when you make fun of the president at a taxpayer-backed event that’s supposed to be appropriate for people of all ages, you’ve crossed the line.
I talked Sunday afternoon to Beam, who witnessed this embarrassing incident and wrote the account linked to in the stories above. Beam confirmed the event and that he had taken the photo of the clown wearing Obama’s face.
Here is the Missouri State Fair apology, in full:
“The performance by one of the rodeo clowns at Saturday’s event was inappropriate and disrespectful, and does not reflect the opinions or standards of the Missouri State Fair. We strive to be a family friendly event and regret that Saturday’s rodeo badly missed that mark.”
More outrage came from elected officials, including Republicans:
• Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a Republican, tweeted: “I love the MoStateFair and will attend this week. I implore GovJayNixon to hold the people responsible for the other night accountable.”
• Also from Kinder: “The MoStateFair celebrates Missouri and our people. I condemn the actions disrespectful to POTUS the other night. We are better than this.”
• Democratic Rep. Jeremy LaFaver of Kansas City tweeted: “I will no longer be attending MOStateFair events with family.”
• Republican Rep. Caleb Rowden of Columbia tweeted, “I don’t agree w/this Prez on many things. But he is deserving of respect and shouldn’t be the object of political stunts. Out of line!”
UPDATE: I knew it wouldn't be long before a false equivalency came out. Conservative bloggers are pointing to Bush's head on a spike, which appeared in an episode of Game of Thrones.
Some things to keep in mind about that:
1) You could barely tell it was George Bush. In fact, millions of viewers didn't notice it. It was only until the DVD came out, and it was discussed on the commentary, that people became aware of the Bush head.
2) Even then, you had to "keep your eyes peeled" to see it, because the Bush head lasted less than a second.
3) The reason for having a Bush head was not to mock Bush, but rather:
“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have."
In other words, it was coincidentally looking like Bush.
4) By contrast, the Obama mask was clearly intended to be Obama, and Obama was mentioned by name at the fairground.
5) Hundreds of people didn't spontaneously applaud and cheer the Bush head live.
6) Despite all of the above, the outrage for the Bush head was MUCH larger.