The audience was flabbergasted when the shoes, one after another, sailed toward then President Bush as he gave his speech in Baghdad during his surprise visit - thankfully his last. The second almost hit him but, with good reflex, he ducked. He even joked afterwards: “If anyone one needs to know, it’s a size 10,”...
Kudos for the lameduck for his humor and for ducking, indeed, when necessary. Still, the anger from the Iraqi tv journalist turned assailant was real enough and disturbing as he screamed in Arabic: “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.” he was wrestled to the ground by other journalists – who turned policemen – and secret servicemen and then led away.
Muntathar Zaidi, the shoe thrower, is now sentenced for three years in prison. Many in Iraq, and around the world, are rallying to his cause. After all, the shoe thrower gets three years while the bomber of Iraqis gets -- to retire in luxury in Dallas - Mission Accomplished and all that.
But it’s that shoe thrower's scream that stays in the mind. And I hope, retiring president Bush’s, who, to his credit, managed to keep his wit. i hope he heard it well; that it continues to echo in his ears.
He said he was all right and it didn’t phase him, but isn't that just the problem in the last 8 years under him? Nothing phased him. He slept well, he had told reporters earlier on during the war. He believed, unwavering, what he did is right, WMD or no. Those who died under bombs were collateral damage. Those boys and girls he sent were performing patriotic act. And those who were tortured, water boarded, kept naked and beaten, and all those shot by mercenaries the likes of Blackwater who acted with impunity, were all done in the name of freedom and democracy, after all.
A teflon president is one who wouldn't let reality sink in, no matter what. His steely conviction, however, turned out to be a major personality flaw and a national disaster. He's unwilling to be swayed by others’ sufferings, to see things from any one else’s point of view. He’s protected by more than good reflexes, apparently. He’s under god’s good protection, a higher power, and anything that goes against his vision is a mere challenge to his conviction and faith; it reeks of arrogance – which led to the plundering of our nation's treasury - and America to a juncture in history where we lost our good standing in the world, and on a verge of an economic collapse.
The size 10 shoes didn’t hit him. But for the man’s sake, in dreams, in idle retirement, where convictions often drop away, where the sheen of righteousness fades, and where the conscience often plays itself out in profound, if terrifying and unexpected ways, may all the shoes and boots and sandals stained with the blood of the innocents, of all those who disappeared into the chambers of Abu Graib, land where the outraged Iraqi journalist had intended. And may the man wakes up one gray haired morning, in cold sweat, full of doubt.