Planet Waves | Guest Essay by David Steinberg


 Of Presidential Assholes
& Related Erogenous Zones

Comes Naturally | By David Steinberg

What are we to make of the fact that the Fearless Leader of the Free World, a man brave enough to challenge terrorists in 80 nations to worldwide war, requires a general anesthetic for a routine colonoscopy?

As you may or may not have been aware, from 7:09 to 9:24 on the morning of Saturday, June 29, Dick Cheney was Acting President of the United States because George W. Bush had invoked the 25th Amendment to the Constitution for only the second time in history. The 25th Amendment requires that Presidential power be transferred to the Vice-President in the event that the President is incapacitated. (The one previous invocation of the 25th Amendment, also ass-related, occurred when Ronald Reagan had colon surgery.)

As with the recent partial eclipse of the sun, most Americans went about their business on June 29 completely unaware that anything unusual was occurring. Nevertheless, for something over two hours, the Vice-President and former CEO of Halliburton Company (under investigation by the SEC for irregular accounting practices) was having his nominal moment manning the tiller of the great American ship of state, while George Bush recovered from taking a general anesthetic for a minor medical procedure.

I'm no great fan of macho toughness, but I have to say that when I read about Bush being given propofol, a general anesthetic, for a routine colonoscopy, my first thought was that this guy was being, well, a total wuss about the colonoscopy thing. Or, to put it a bit more sympathetically, I imagined that the President of the United States must have some significant trove of unfinished business about his asshole if he needs to be knocked out to have a probe put up his butt -- a bit of personal information, I think, that goes a long way toward explaining Bush's somewhat tortured personality structure.

I realize that some would say it's impolite to speak so disrespectfully of the symbol of national pride and solidarity that so many people are counting on these days for a sense of stability and security. Bush is, as we know all too well, the man whose job it is to show Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Yassir Arafat -- not to mention all our European allies -- that anyone who stands in the way of what the United States wants these days is in for big trouble. But as my father and dozens of the nation's top-priced escorts are all fond of saying, everyone looks more or less the same when their pants are down, when they're shaving in the morning, and when they're sitting on the toilet. And I do enjoy remembering that all the so-called Great Leaders of the world -- whether that be George Bush, Bill Gates, or Mahatma Ghandi -- are also humble, life-sized human beings, just like the rest of us.

There is, indeed, something inherently humbling about getting a colonoscopy, which is why I find the thought of the President of the United States, with his ass in the air, about to be penetrated by White House physician Richard Tubb, particularly appealing, even if Bush was unconscious at the time. I had my own routine colonoscopy (drug-free, by the way) a few years back, so I can speak from personal experience here. You get to kneel at the foot of an examining table (adopting what my proctologist, a man with a very useful sense of humor, describes as "the position of prayer"), while a seven-foot-long tube with a microcamera on the end works its way inside you. It's one of those experiences that you can either give yourself over to or resist. My personal inclination was to give myself over, but I tend to be that way in general. All in all, my colonoscopy was occasionally uncomfortable (the probe negotiating the two major bends in my colon was worth a couple of deep breaths), occasionally pleasurable (yes, I'm one of the people who can enjoy that sort of thing), but most of all a grand non-event. If you're one of those post-50 people who's been avoiding a procedure that could save your life, take this as encouragement to just get over your fear of the situation and take a simple step toward keeping yourself healthy for years to come.

I know that some people have more difficulty, as well as a lot less fun, with their colonoscopies than I did. Many take some sort of tranquilizer to help them stay relaxed through the whole thing. But popping a little valium, the most common prescription for the wary, is a whole different thing from needing to be knocked out by a drug like propofol, something that puts Bush way over at the end of the spectrum on the issue of anal aversion.

Propofol, marketed as Diprivan, was developed as a general anesthetic, and is only secondarily used for lesser sedation. It is a drug, according to the Diprivan website, that "should be administered only by persons trained in the administration of general anesthesia." Patients who are given propofol need to be "continuously monitored and facilities for maintenance of a patent airway, artificial ventilation, and oxygen enrichment and circulatory resuscitation must be immediately available." In other words, it's nothing to mess around with in a recreational sort of way.

According to Reuters, Bush was given propofol intravenously and was unconscious for the 20 minutes that he was being probed. In fact, it wasn't until two hours after he regained consciousness that Bush considered himself sufficiently recapacitated to take back "the power of the presidency." Asked why it took so long for Bush to resume the presidency, White House counsel Al Gonzales cited "an abundance of caution" and Bush's desire not to make "a hasty decision to rush back in to assume authority and power."

My own post-probe experience consisted of having a nice chat with my doctor, having him show me the probe and how it worked, getting in my car, and driving home. I certainly never felt incapacitated in the least. If anyone had flown a plane into my house during the entire thing, I would have known exactly what to do and been able to do it.

So that leaves the question of what is it about George Bush that makes him so squeamish about something being inserted into his asshole that he needs to be laid unconscious for the occasion? White House reporters, not surprisingly, by-passed the opportunity to ask White House spokesman Ari Fleischer that question. Consequently, Bush's militaristic explanation ("because we're at war and I just wanted to be super -- you know, super cautious") was addressed to a question about why he passed the reins of power to Cheney, rather than why he wanted a general anesthetic in the first place.

Could it be that Bush has never put even his little finger into his ass and the whole idea gives him the homophobic willies? Or maybe it's that, at some point in his wild and woolly past, Bush did have someone or something significant inside his ass, and was so traumatized that the thought of anything approaching a repeat of that experience causes him to break out into a cold sweat. Or perhaps Bush's past experience with ass play was intensely pleasurable and he's afraid that his affinity for that sort of thing might show if he let his body respond unaltered by drugs.

While representing a rather extreme case of anal aversion, Bush is definitely not alone in feeling less than enamored with that part of his body. In his informative book, "Anal Pleasure and Health," Jack Morin addresses the phobia most of us have about our assholes, and how that affects our ability to relate to our anuses as possible sources of sensual or sexual pleasure. "Because most of us are profoundly alienated from the anal area," Morin points out, "we typically experience it as hidden, dirty, disgusting, and certainly unworthy of our attention." Infants and small children, he notes, take delight in all parts of their bodies, including their assholes.

Unfortunately, he adds, "in the course of growing up we learn to mistrust or ignore our physical selves. This process of bodily self-alienation is especially pronounced in the anal area, which becomes the ultimate symbol of all that is unclean and revolting. The gradual realization that the anus is considered bad and repulsive must be quite disconcerting [for children] because it contradicts their direct, pleasurable experience. This is the birth of an unspoken conflict that can easily endure a lifetime."

Happily, Americans in general seem to have a more friendly, less phobic, and more openly erotic, relationship with their assholes than the President does. "Anal sexuality," says Jack Morin, "is, and always has been, an important feature of the human erotic landscape." He cites a survey of over 2,000 men and women by Morton Hunt in the early 1970s, in which "about a quarter of married couples under 35 had engaged in anal intercourse at least occasionally, while over half had tried anal fingering, and over a quarter had tried oral-anal stimulation." A Playboy survey of 100,000 readers in the early 1980s revealed that 47% of men and 61% of women respondents had engaged in anal intercourse. Both of these surveys were before public discussion of AIDS during the 1990s placed awareness of anal sex front and center for mainstream Americans from coast to coast.

Today, despite the fact that 15 states still have sodomy laws on their books, there is a growing fascination with anal sex, particularly among younger people. Anal sex is one of the most common themes in porn films, for example. And Good Vibrations, San Francisco's famed erotic emporium, reports that "Bend Over Boyfriend," a film about anal penetration of men by their female partners with strap-on dildoes, is one of its on-going best-selling videos.

"Virtually anyone," says Jack Morin, "regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can become more aware of the anal area, learn to relax anal-rectal muscles, and expand their capacity to enjoy whichever types of anal stimulation may be desired." All that's required, he says, is "a little patience and a clear idea of how to proceed." He adds that "almost everyone with whom I have worked has found that the rewards -- anal pleasure and health -- are well worth the effort."

Attempts to connect Dr. Morin with President Bush, an admittedly desperate gesture in the name of world peace, have so far been unsuccessful. ++

Editor's note: This is essay Comes Naturally #125, copyright by David Steinberg. If you'd like to receive Comes Naturally and other writing by David regularly via email (free and confidential), send your name and email address to David at -eric

Past columns are available at the Society for Human Sexuality's "David Steinberg Archives" at Two books edited by David -- "Erotic by Nature: A Celebration of Life, of Love, and of Our Wonderful Bodies," and "The Erotic Impulse: Honoring the Sensual Self" -- are available from him by mail order. Descriptions and ordering information are posted at and

Search | Horoscopes | What's New | Index | Consultations

Space graphic above from the Rosette Nebula in Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur.
Credit: T. A. Rector, B. Wolpa, M. Hanna.