The Upshot

Attention-seeking author hurls his book at Obama

Brett Michael Dykes
The Upshot

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Yes, the publishing industry is reeling these days, but surely authors surely can find less disruptive ways to promote their newly published works than hauling off and throwing a copy at the president of the United States.

But you know what they say: There's no such thing as bad publicity. Something like that thought probably crossed the mind of the unidentified man who hurled a paperback at President Obama at a rally at Philadelphia's Vernon Park over the weekend. Mark Knoller of CBS said that the Secret Service has interviewed the author, whom they described as an "overexuberant" Obama supporter who merely wanted to make sure that the president had a copy of his book. The determined scribe said he meant no harm but exercised horrendous judgment -- and that was apparently good enough for the Secret Service, which didn't seek charges against him. After agents with the service questioned the man, they saw to his release.

[Photos: More images of President Obama]

Neither the man nor the book has been identified as of this writing. The White House did not immediately respond to The Upshot's requests for more background on the episode.

You can watch a report on the incident below, courtesy of ABC News:

On the plus side, this was at least a promotional stunt in which the instigator kept his clothes on. At the start of the weekend rally -- which Obama headlined in an effort to build enthusiasm in the Democratic base for the midterm campaign home stretch -- authorities apprehended a would-be streaker. The man, who has since been identified as Juan James Rodriguez, attempted to sprint naked in front of Obama with the name of a website written on his chest. According to the Weekly Standard, Rodriguez sought the $1 million reward offered by a shipping industry billionaire to the first person to successfully streak by Obama with the name of the billionaire's website written on the streaker's chest. (In the spirit of staving off future presidential-streaking encounters, we can report here that the website is called battlecam.com.)

[Rewind video: Bush ducks a shoe-thrower during his presidency]

A White House official told ABC News that staffers knew about the streaking incident but that no one in the president's contingent actually saw the naked man attempt to dash in front of the stage.

Many originally thought that the book-hurler was acting out of anger, much like the infamous Iraqi reporter who hurled a shoe at then-President George W. Bush. But high spirits often get out of hand in Philadelphia. This, after all, is a city whose residents are famous for booing Santa Claus. By those civic standards, a streaker and a text missile in the vicinity of the president's head make for a pretty serene day.

(Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)

[Related: Obama heckled again over 'don't ask, don't tell']

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