Wednesday, December 17, 2008

They Love Me, They Love Me Not...

A few days ago, when I first heard about the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference, I really wanted to post about the incident. I'd be lying if I didn't admit I got a big kick (no pun intended) out of it. I just had too many other things on my mind to delve into the subject. It's not like there is an overwhelming amount of news on the national political scene. Things have finally calmed down with the President-Elect. He's made most of his major cabinet appointments and is now busy filling the remaining slots, which include positions overseeing stuff like the White House bathrooms and tennis courts. Obama simply doesn't appear to be able to generate as much controversy as his predecessor (yet).

As far as Dubya is concerned, I'm forced to concede that I have developed the slightest hint of sympathy for the guy. This is inconvenient and even a bit painful, as he has been the figurehead overlooking eight years of almost unmitigated disaster. Yes, I've heard all the arguments about how safe he has kept the country over the last eight years. But to buy that premise you have to overlook 9-11, and believe that he could have done nothing to stop it. You also have to come to the conclusion that the War in Iraq has made the world (and thus the homefront) more secure. And you might even have to get over any qualms you have about how his administration has responded to domestic disasters.

Add to all of this the power his master Cheney has seized for his "unitary executive branch", and the terrible leadership he has extended over the economy, and I understand why anyone would be resistant to feeling sorry for Bush. Still I can't help it, and I suppose that the reason for that has something to do with the irrationality of feelings. I've always had an eye for the underdogs in life, and despite his natural advantages, George W. Bush has perpetually managed to force himself into that category. He's been a singular failure at every endeavor he's ever undertaken. That takes some mad determination, especially considering the family he was born into. His level of incompetence makes you want to cheer him on to a single victory.

But it seems all too clear that his redemption will not be forthcoming during his last month in office. Even Oliver Stone, with his reportedly sycophantic biopic and tradition of historical revisionism, couldn't rehabilitate this guy's reputation. Bush sits at favorable odds to be remembered as the worst president in US history... worse even than Herbert Hoover, James Buchanan, and Andrew Johnson. That's sordid company indeed. And now he wants to portray his adventurism in Iraq as a positive story, with a happy ending (a sadly fitting description, if you apply this term's more obscure meaning). However, he can't get everyone to play along. This isn't the Special Olympics, and he doesn't get points just for surviving his presidency.

If we want to properly place our warm sentiments, perhaps we should direct them at the hurler himself- journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who was employed by the Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network. He even flung an accompanying insult, shouting "It is the farewell kiss, you dog." That, of course, referred to the soles of his footwear, which he certainly meant to come into contact with the President's smug face. While the meaning may be lost on some Americans, this gesture was the ultimate indictment, and an action conveying the deepest disrespect from an Arabian point-of-view. For his indiscretion, al -Zaidi now faces a likely two-year stint in an Iraqi prison for "insulting a foreign head of state"*. Yikes! No doubt Iraqis are enjoying their new "free society".

* al-Zaida also suffered a broken arm and several cracked ribs as a "result of the incident".

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Blogger rainywalker said...

It should be impossible, but I to have lost my mind and feel sorry for him. He has did some crazy and stupid things but is still my president. God love him!

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

"For his indiscretion, al -Zaidi now faces a likely two-year stint in an Iraqi prison for "insulting a foreign head of state"*. Yikes! No doubt Iraqis are enjoying their new "free society"."

Because the punishment would have been much less severe had he thrown his shoes at Saddam during the old regime. The simple fact that he wasn't afraid to perpetrate such an act shows how much better off Iraq is.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

You do have a point there, Steve. But what do you think the charge would be here in the US?

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

I'm not really sure, but I think the punishment for the attempted assault of a foreign dignitary should be severe. The President of Iran, a known holocaust denier, has visited the US several times and has been treated with nothing but class. Imagine if the Ayatollah came to Texas and I slapped him in the face. I'd probably have a fatwah put out on me.

I also think the bigger issue here is with the security at these events. How a person can get that close to assaulting the president in the first place is mindboggling to me? It seems funny now, but wait until some jackass stands up and tries to do something to President Obama. We know there are wackos out there who wish him harm, and I doubt that situation would be seen as so humorous by so many.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Without commenting on the crime or punishment, I don't think this shows any lack of security. These were journalists, not a public gathering, and I have little doubt these folks were thoroughly screened before entering the building. Had he been approached in an attack, you likely would have seen a quick response.

Next time, however, check your shoes at the door guys!

9:18 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I have to agree. I don't think this was any kind of failure of the secret service. What American really thinks that he's going to get shoes thrown at him?

I'll bet you Bush and his buddies have exchanged a number of jokes about the incident. One thing I think you can't accuse Dubya of is lacking a sense of humor. On a personal level, that's probably his saving grace. I understand it's a serious insult in the Arabian culture, but it still seems pretty slapstick to me.

11:15 AM  

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