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View Full Version : Calling George Bush "Shrub"- supposed to be insulting?


Max Carnage
12-30-2003, 12:01 PM
I've seen on the boards some "clever" jokers referning to President Bush as "Shrub." Ok, I get it: bush and shrub are synonyms. But why do they think it's an insult? Is a shrub shorter? Smellier? Dumber? Less able to run a country? Why is this supposed to be some witty cut down??? Sounds more like a kindergartener's first attempt at insulting someone when they don't quite get the concept.

Trinopus
12-30-2003, 12:10 PM
Well, yeah, that's about it. It's a childish insult, the likes of which are always popular with some folks.

Trinopus

Jpeg Jones
12-30-2003, 12:11 PM
For what it's worth, his former oil company was called Arbusto, which Spanish for shrub.

FisherQueen
12-30-2003, 12:14 PM
He's like Bush, but smaller, less impressive, and less important. It's a pretty minor little slam, not meant, I think, to be superwitty but more of a throwaway eyerolling kind of insult.

Khadaji
12-30-2003, 12:35 PM
I always skip any post with "shrub" in it. I'm not a huge fan of President Bush, but whenever I see this, I always think "What's next, are we gonna start a rumor that he has cooties?" It just seems childish to me.

RTFirefly
12-30-2003, 12:40 PM
The moniker dates from when, at least in the national vernacular, "Bush" without any modifiers, meant the fella who was President from 1989-93. It was meant to both distinguish and belittle. Now just the latter, of course.

Can't say this is really a great debate, or even much of a little one. But hopefully the responses suffice to answer the OP.

Will Repair
12-30-2003, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by Jpeg Jones
...his former oil company was called Arbusto, which Spanish for shrub.
By calling him Shrub one calls to mind his difficulties with language.

Jonathan Chance
12-30-2003, 12:53 PM
Nyeh. Yeah, it's an insult (though calling him 'dubya' isn't) but it's no worse that the old 'Slick Wille' stuff.

cainxinth
12-30-2003, 01:09 PM
Shrubs aren't exactly impressive specimens of the plant kingdom. Bush isn't exactly an impressive specimen of the human race.

Works for me.

dorkusmalorkusmafia
12-30-2003, 01:18 PM
"What's next, are we gonna start a rumor that he has cooties?"

I hope this comes to pass. :) Nothing to add because I find making fun of someone's name beneath me.

John Mace
12-30-2003, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by RTFirefly
Can't say this is really a great debate, or even much of a little one. But hopefully the responses suffice to answer the OP.
Shhhhh! Don't complain, or before you know it this thread will turn into a debate about whether Bush lied about WMDs.

Squink
12-30-2003, 02:14 PM
Originally posted by John Mace
Shhhhh! Don't complain, or before you know it... By all means! If opposition to Shrub gets vocal enough, the jokers could decide to take another tack on the president's name, and start referring to him as America's bearded clam.

presidebt
12-30-2003, 03:03 PM
Sometime around 1995, while taking an American Lit class at Berea College, I came across my first experience of offensive name practices. I believe the text was by Boorstin, but what I remember most is that Adams and Whitman and Emerson were all referred to in their intoductory paragraphs as, suprisingly enough, Adams, Whitman and Emerson. However, when we came to Elizabeth Cady Stanton's address to the New York State Legislature, she was referred to exclusively as Elizabeth, as if she were the little pet of Boorstin (if, indeed, I am remembering correctly that it was his text). After some consideration, I decided that the lesson I would take was to always refer to historical and political persons by their full name or their last name only. It seemed the only intellectually consistent thing to do.

Anything else is in poor taste and suggests an unseemly political agenda, IMO, nevermind what side it comes from.

Max Carnage
12-30-2003, 03:14 PM
Yeah, I left it here in GB since I figured eventually it WOULD turn into some political debate and thought I'd save the mods the time. I usually stay out of debates since, in general, I don't really give a crap about things. :)

Trinopus
12-30-2003, 03:29 PM
I remember Tricky Dicky, and, of course, Slick Willy was quite recent.

I can't remember an epithet of this sort applied to Carter, Ford, Reagan, or Bush the Elder.

(Reagan was often called "The Gipper," but that was meant to be affectionate, if not admiring. You'd occasionally hear "Ronnie Rayguns," but that doesn't seem to be exactly the same thing...)

Trinopus

Kizarvexius
12-30-2003, 03:31 PM
When Bush Jr. was running for gov here in Texas (as I recall), he was called "Shrub" just as a cute way to distinguish him from his daddy. Big Bush, Little Bush. Little Bush = "Shrub". It's a natural progression, and there probably wasn't any insult implied at that point in time. After all, most of the hubris that's been dumped on his head came long after the nickname started appearing in the press.

'possum stalker
12-30-2003, 06:57 PM
After all, most of the hubris that's been dumped on his head...


"Overbearing pride or presumption" was dumped on his head? I'll say.

Bryan Ekers
12-30-2003, 08:06 PM
Originally posted by Trinopus
I can't remember an epithet of this sort applied to Carter, Ford, Reagan, or Bush the Elder.

Well, Bush41 never quite recovered from that 'wimp' label. It always struck me as kind of a strange thing to call a former fighter pilot and head of the CIA.

John Mace
12-30-2003, 08:26 PM
Originally posted by Bryan Ekers
Well, Bush41 never quite recovered from that 'wimp' label. It always struck me as kind of a strange thing to call a former fighter pilot and head of the CIA.
Bush Sr was a bland, cautious president who seemed to have few if any solid convictions. For a politician, that's got wimp written all over it.

elucidator
12-30-2003, 09:32 PM
Conversely, his son has a bountiful supply of solid convictions. Sadly, they are mostly nonsense.

Chance the Gardener
12-30-2003, 10:49 PM
America has always had plenty of cute nicknames for politicians, both complimentary and insulting; there's nothing new about this. I'm sure His Accidency and Old Fuss and Feathers were none too pleased with their imposed monikers. It's a good way to hurl an insult or two at someone you don't like.

I can appreciate an insult if they're clever. Slick Willy always rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, it just seemed so generic; there was nothing clever about it at all. Ronnie Raygun was okay, though a bit overbearing as jokes go. Tricky Dick fits Nixon very well, though; it was tailored right to him, which pleases me. It combines qualities specific to his personality with his actual name. (I mean, you can dismiss any politician as slick; I'd expect more from the opposition, you know?)

As others have pointed out: Shrub pokes at Bush by referring to his name and saying something about his stature. It accuses Bush of being nothing but a lesser version of his father, and implies that Bush couldn't have gotten to where he is if he weren't related to whom he's related to, and that there's something unappealing about that. Whether you agree with that assessment of Bush or not, you have to admit it's a quality dig. I'm sure it was never uttered in a kind way, either; it was Molly Ivins who came up with the nickname. (I'd like to add that I explained what a shrub is to my student, whom I teach ESL to, and how it applies to Bush. He thought it was hilarious, and I got a good lesson out of it. (Lest anyone think I'm using my paid position to push my own agenda, let me clarify that my student is Japanese and has no intention of relinquishing his Japanese citizenship.))

I expect cleverness from a name-based insult. My last name is one that people have tried to make jokes out of in the past, but those Slavic names can really throw someone for a loop. I mean, my last name doesn't actually sound like any English words, which renders insulters helpless as they look for places to plug in an extra syllable or something to make my name sound funny. It doesn't work. I've tried to parody my own name myself, but to no avail. When faced with such a dilemma, the insulter should just avoid that tactic. I mean, when Rush Limbaugh used to call Mario Cuomo "Cumo," it was just pathetic. He's just mispronouncing his name, but "Cumo" doesn't mean anything! It's not funny!!! I'll give Limbaugh credit for trying when he referred to the late Senator Paul Wellstone as "Senator Welfare," but it still falls a little flat in my book. As an admirer of Senator Wellstone, perhaps I'm a bit biased, but that's just not that funny—but at least Limbaugh's trying. Maybe now that he's off the drugs he'll be funnier, but I doubt it.

rjung
12-31-2003, 02:20 AM
Carter was portrayed as the naive peanut farmer, IIRC.

Squonk
12-31-2003, 03:27 AM
Columnist Molly Ivins dubbed Dubya "Shrub" back when he was Governor I think.

see here (www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2003/02/18/ivins/index_np.html)

Note: you have to subscribe to salon.com to read the interview.

She is not a fan.

quiltguy154
12-31-2003, 06:49 AM
There is a satirical, political comic strip, Called "Shrub", that runs in one of our daily papers[Philadelphia Daily News] GWB is a talking shrub, other flora, and fauna, are included. All manner of politicians, and sometimes their respective countries, are skewered to a fare- thee-well. Left-leaning, but still funny.

Dunderman
12-31-2003, 07:07 AM
Originally posted by Khadaji
I always skip any post with "shrub" in it. I'm not a huge fan of President Bush, but whenever I see this, I always think "What's next, are we gonna start a rumor that he has cooties?" It just seems childish to me.
My sentiments exactly. It's an immature action by immature people, and it hurts their cause more than it helps.