"...'The war is not over,' Bush said, adding that 'it is decisively on it's way to being won.'
"It was at that point the journalist stood up and threw a shoe. Bush ducked, and it narrowly missed his head...."
I'll have CNN pick up the story at that point: "The shoe-thrower -- identified as Muntadhar al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network -- could be heard yelling in Arabic: 'This is a farewell ... you dog!'
"While pinned on the ground by security personnel, he screamed: 'You killed the Iraqis!'..."
Al-Baghdadia seems to be an Iraqi-owned, Cairo-based satellite station, and they're upset about their journalist. The station is demanding that Iraq's government release their journalist. If the shoe-thrower isn't released, it will be a blow to democracy and freedom of the press. Their ideas: not necessarily mine.
BBC has a short video (1:35) of the incident - and Bush responding to questions afterward. I don't know how long "Shoes hurled at President Bush" will stay up, so I made a transcript of Bush's response:
"So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?
"Ah, it is one way to ge- gain attention. Ah, it's it's like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It's like driving down the street and have people not gesturing with all five fingers. It's a way for people to draw, you know, attention - I don't know what the guy's cause is, but one thing is for certain: he caused you to ask me a question about him. I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it. Ah, these journalists here were very apologetic. They were, you know, they were - said that this isn't - this doesn't represent the Iraqi people. But that's that's what happens in free societies, where people try to draw attention to themselves. And so, I guess he was effective, cause he caused you to say something about it."
The American president also said that the shoes were size 10.
I suppose that President Bush could be criticized for not being culturally sensitive: I don't know that everyone in Iraq knows what "not gesturing with all five fingers" means, and the president didn't explain that remark, as far as I could tell. For British readers, it may be appropriate to say that an American referring to "the guy" doesn't mean the same thing as a Britisher saying "the Guy."
Seriously, NowThis exchange of ideas - well, ideas in one direction and shoes in the other - is amusing, almost, but not important. America and Iraq have been negotiating security arrangements for the next few years. At this point, it looks like American troops will be out of Iraq by 2011.
I hope that the Iraqi government knows what it's doing - but it's their country.
It looks like Bush isn't any more popular among some Iraqis, than he is among come college professors. I'm not sure what the shoe-throwing journalist would like Iraq to be like: I've gotten the impression that Saddam Hussein didn't make many friends, outside his own clique, and he's the one who would be giving journalists directions if the coalition hadn't butted in.
Finally, I've made the point before that "...National leaders are not expected to lead their armies in battle." Just the same, it's nice to know that the current president of the United States has good eyesight and reflexes, and didn't feel threatened by a couple of size 10s aimed at his head.
In the news:
- "Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush in Baghdad"
CNN (December 14, 2008)
- "Shoes hurled at President Bush"
BBC (December 14, 2008)
- "Bush Dodges Two Shoes Thrown by Iraqi Journalist During News Conference"
FOXNews (December 14, 2008)
- "Bush: Retreat in Iraq would have meant failure"
Associated Press (December 14, 2008)