More Shoes in Bush’s Future

December 15, 2008

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in Baghdad was hailed as a hero today across the Middle East. In Baghdad, where the incident happened, protesters filled the streets and demanded his release from custody.

When I first watched the video, I marveled at Bush’s sharp reflexes and calm under fire. I even felt a passing wave of resentment that someone would publicly disrespect our president, though I’ve long considered him worse than contemptible. It took me longer than it should have to appreciate the rage that the shoe-thrower must have felt to risk jail for his actions.

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” (I’ve written about a real farewell kiss, captured in an iconic image that encapsulates both the rage and sadness of this pointless war.)

If public humiliation on foreign soil is the only price Bush pays for the Iraqi war, he’ll be damn lucky. He chose a good time to leave the country. Last week, a bipartisan Senate report concluded that his administration adopted a policy for the torture and abuse of prisoners held in the war on terror, then blamed the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison on low-ranking soldiers. A Pentagon report also documented widespread mismanagement of $100 billion in contracts for rebuilding Iraq.

But instead of facing impeachment or investigation for war crimes, Bush will retire to the lucrative life of occasional six-figure speaking engagements.

He’ll have plenty of shoes for his wardrobe. A creative blogger is suggesting that “as a sign of your admiration, please feel free (compelled) to send”  old shoes to the Bush library at Southern Methodist University and gives the address. May I suggest sending a single boot to increase the symbolic value?

Something tells me a lot of packages will soon descend upon Boaz Lane in Dallas, just in time for Christmas.