Politicians have a tendency of embarrassing themselves; after all, they're constantly being scrutinized in the public eye (and their families – including embarrassing presidential siblings – are subject to the same). But in the days before politicians could humiliate themselves on Twitter, they had to be a bit more dramatic. In January 1992, then-President George HW Bush was at a state banquet with the Prime Minister of Japan, Kiichi Miyazawa when he suddenly fell ill and, unfortunately, threw up all over the shocked PM.
The incident was scary for a few moments – Bush collapsed immediately after spewing into the Prime Minister's lap as his wife Barbara held a towel to his face – then it became entirely embarrassing. It was also uniquely interesting in that it didn't impact Bush's public image in the way it should have, at a time when presidential candidates (Bush was in the midst of running for re-election) were subject to an immense amount of scrutiny.
After Bush got sick in Japan, few conspiracy theories and rumors popped up, and the President was able to laugh off the incident with a few well-timed jokes.
Before the President was struck by the flu, he felt better than ever. At least, that's what he told reporters. Many of Bush's aides who traveled with him to Japan fell ill, and some feared the President would succumb to sickness as well. In two different interviews just before the banquet, however, Bush claimed he had "never felt better." Apparently, Bush underestimated the powers of the flu.
The sight was fairly frightening: the President of the United States collapsing to the floor after throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister. Luckily, Bush was simply suffering from an onset of the stomach flu, according to his doctor.
Bush had been sick leading up to his infamous fainting spell at the state dinner. According to Newsweek, he even excused himself partway through dinner to go throw up in the bathroom, and he assumed that he had gotten it all out of his system – he was wrong. Thankfully, the President was on his feet in a matter of minutes, and a simple remedy of anti-nausea medicine and rest had set him right by the next day.
Although the situation was incredibly embarrassing, Bush proved to be a good sport about it all when he remarked, immediately after regaining consciousness: "Why don't you roll me under the table and I'll sleep it off while you finish the dinner." The joke, directed at the Prime Minister, must have alleviated the tension of the President of the United States vomiting and collapsing at a state dinner.
Bush continued to make light of the incident – after being helped back up, he brushed it off by saying, "'I just wanted to get a little attention."
This footage shows the startling moment Bush became ill (on the lap of Prime Minister Miyazawa) and is helped to the floor by his aides and his wife, Barbara, who held a napkin to her husband's mouth. The end of the clip shows how Bush handled the situation – by smiling broadly at the dinner guests after getting back on his feet. Bush himself did not watch the footage (he didn't want to) but claimed he "heard it was pretty dramatic."