President Obama has joined the many U.S. presidents to be attacked in strange ways. During a rally in Philadelphia that Obama was attending, someone literally threw the book at the President (Theweek.com). Though the perpetrator missed the President, it leaves one wondering what a person like that is thinking at the time of the act, given the severe consequences.
Shoe Thrown at President Bush
During a press conference in Iraq in 2008, an Iraqi journalist upset with U.S. policy in the country lobbed a shoe at President George W. Bush (Huffingtonpost.com). Like in President Obama’s case, the shoe missed Bush. At face value, throwing a shoe sounds even crazier than throwing a book at Obama. However, shoes and the bottom of shoes are considered one of the worst insults in most Middle Eastern cultures (telegraph.co.uk).
Associating someone with a shoe or the bottom of a shoe or hitting someone with a shoe is equivalent to saying that the person is lower than the bottom of your shoe, a bug or dirt.
Attempt at President Clinton, with a plane
Not everyone can claim to have attacked a president; fewer still can claim an attack on a president with a motor vehicle, much less a plane.
In 1994, a disgruntled individual flew a Cessna 150 at the White House master bedroom (NYTimes.com). The President and his family were not home at the time, and the Cessna 150 missed the White House altogether, landing in the yard below the target bedroom.
The fact that the plane was stolen and it reached its target (though the aim was off) only shows how bad security was prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and how over-reactive security is today.
Two guns and still miss the President?
The first attempt on a U.S. President’s life was back in 1835. Richard Lawrence walked up to President Andrew Jackson on Jan. 30 at a funeral with two derringers (Americanheritage.com). After the first gun misfired, Lawrence moved in closer for a point blank range shot. The second derringer also misfired.
Luck does not get that much better for the target, or that bad for the assassin.
Even more interesting was not the two misfiring derringers, but the reaction. Jackson himself beat his assailant with his cane. What better election campaign than “I beat off my own assassins”? But Jackson was already elected twice; following George Washington, Jackson did not run for a third term.
Every attack on a U.S. president gains media attention. Only a handful of attacks gain staying power for their absolute absurdity or strangeness, like throwing the book at President Obama.
Maureen Dowd; Crash at the White House: The Overview; NYTimes.com
Bush Attacked By Shoe-Hurling Iraqi Journalist; Huffingtonpost.com
Caroline Gammell; Arab Culture: The Insult of the Shoe; Telegraph.co.uk
Jon Grinspan; Trying to Assassinate President Jackson; AmericanHeritage.com