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[Opinion] Jokes About the President

Posted July. 14, 2005 02:07,   


The president-elect George W. Bush was invited to the White House a day before his inauguration. Bush used the bathroom in Bill Clinton’s bedroom. There, he found a toilet made of gold and was very surprised. He excitedly told his wife Laura, “When I become president tomorrow, we’ll get to use a golden toilet.” Laura told Hillary when they were having lunch together that her husband was very impressed by the golden toilet in the White House. That night, when the Clintons went to bed for the last time in the White House, Hillary poked Bill in the ribs and said, “Honey, I know who the idiot that went to the bathroom on your saxophone is.”

In the U.S., there are a lot of jokes that ridicule President Bush’s intellect and tease his “slips of the tongue.” Once, a parody photo of Bush and the late Pope John Paul II gained popularity. In the photo, the Pope has his hand on Bush’s forehead and murmurs, “He’s more stupid than I thought.” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who recently paid a visit to Korea, is considered a “home teacher” for the president. Rice is said to be correcting the president without hesitation. “No, Mr. President. Rome is not the capital of Romania.”

When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton likened the president to a cartoon character, Alfred E. Newman, the Republicans fired back, accusing the senator of launching an early presidential campaign. “Gyeongpodae,” conjured by this paper’s Mr. Nadaero (July 9 issue), is short for “the president who gave up the economy.” (Gyeongpodae is a homonym for a famous vacation spot in Gangwondo.) It became an instant hit. When Governor Sohn Hak-kyu of Gyeonggi-do cited the cartoon, Uri Party members answered back with another homonym of Gyeongpodae referring to Governor Sohn that means, “The presidential candidate who even Gyeonggi-do residents gave up on.”

I suppose mocking jokes can be refreshingly cathartic among citizens, but quite bitter in the political arena.

Cheong Wa Dae and the Uri Party might be unhappy with “Gyeongpodae,” but I urge them to pay attention to what the word implies: that the people of Korea are asking them to work harder for the economy. At least “Gyeongpodae” has more “integrity” than the freckle-faced, “What, me worry?” Alfred E. Newman. I only hope President Roh Moo-hyun turns himself from a “Gyeongpodae” into a “Gyeongsaldae,” meaning, “the president who revived the economy.”

Hwang Ho-taek, Editorial Writer, hthwang@donga.com