Former US President George H.W. Bush fainted after vomiting on Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s lap. According to Bush’s doctors, the incident was caused by acute gastroenteritis, leading to him losing consciousness.
During a 1992 state banquet, George HW Bush puked on the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. The incident sparked a wave of late-night TV jokes and ridicule, even coining the term Busshu-suru, which means “to do the Bush thing or bush it.” It was also parodied in the film “Hot Shots! Part Deux.”
The Incident with Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa
One of the most widely mocked and memorable gaffes in US presidential history occurred in Japan on the evening of January 8, 1992, when President George H.W. Bush vomited on Japan’s Prime Minister.
In honor of the president’s state visit, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa hosted a dinner. Bush, 67, appeared to be in good health as he played doubles tennis with the Emperor of Japan and his son that morning. During the dinner, however, Bush became ill.
He leaned forward, then fell to his side, vomiting into the Prime Minister’s lap. Bush then passed out as his wife, aides, and Secret Service agents rushed to his side. He was revived in moments and could leave the dinner alone, apologizing for the incident.
Doctors later said the president had acute gastroenteritis and felt fine after taking an anti-nausea medication. He returned to his regular schedule the following afternoon.
The doctors are certain that there is no other illness or any other problems related to this, that it’s a simple case of the flu. The President is human; he gets sick.Marlin Fitzwater, President George HW Bush’s Spokesperson
Mr. Fitzwater claimed that Mr. Bush fainted during the dinner, vomited, and slid to the floor. This was repeatedly broadcast on television in both Japan and the United States.
Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, the President’s host, cradled his head for several minutes until Mr. Bush could stand on his own. Mr. Fitzwater stated that tests revealed that the President’s most recent illness was unrelated to his thyroid condition. But he wouldn’t say what tests were done or what else they showed. (Source: New York Times)
What Happened After the Incident?
Nonetheless, the incident and the blurry video of Bush’s collapse drew a lot of attention in his home country. Saturday Night Live parodied the incident, comparing it to John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Though he refused to use the incident publicly, Bush’s opponent, Bill Clinton, most likely benefited from it. Clinton’s relative youth and vitality were critical to his public image, and Bush’s general illness only highlighted the two men’s differences.
Bush was defeated for re-election the following November, but he lived to see his son, George W. Bush, served two terms as president.
Even today, the incident in which Bush vomited on the Japanese prime minister is remembered fondly in the annals of American presidential gaffes. In the aftermath of the incident, the colloquial phrase bushuru, which roughly translates to the phrase; to pull a Bush, became a popular slang term for vomiting. (Source: New York Times)
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