Iraq

Bush Shoe-wn a Good Time in Baghdad

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I'm not sure this incident is any worse than simply having to talk to Helen Thomas, but here's the 411 on the Baghdad shoe-throwing incident:

Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes and an insult at George W. Bush, without hitting him, as the US president was shaking hands with the Iraqi premier at his Baghdad office on Sunday.

As the two leaders met in Nuri al-Maliki's private office, a journalist sitting in the third row jumped up, shouting: "It is the farewell kiss, you dog," and threw his shoes one after the other towards Bush.

Maliki made a protective gesture towards the US president, who ducked and was not hit.

The journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was frogmarched from the room by security staff, an AFP journalist said.

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles.

Some Iraqi journalists stood up to apologise.

The White House said Bush ducked to avoid the first shoe, while the second narrowly missed the president.

Bush said: "Thanks for apologising on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw".

Playing down the incident, the president later added: "I don't know what the guy's cause is… I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it."

One question: Did the guy throw the very shoes he was wearing? Or had he brought a spare? I suspect that footwear will be the least of his problems for a while.

More here.

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  1. I can’t imagine a more appropriate capstone for the Bush presidency than that.

  2. Say what you will about Bush, but that dude has mad ninja reflexes.

  3. That monkey has some pretty good reflexes.

  4. I think I see the symbolism here – if the soles of your shoes make contact with someone, you are basically trampling them underfoot.

    Or maybe the insult is taking off one’s shoes, thereby exposing your enemy to the odor.

  5. *shudders at pseudo violent act at the president*

    don’t be doing stuff like that. we want to move away from violence, not towards. I don’t care what you think of the president. No movement towards violence. No violence.

    Use your words, mr Reporter. use your words.

    I’m glad he’s okay!

    now that that’s out of the way:

    WHO THROWS A SHOE??? HONESTLY!!!

  6. Ha! Saddam was so popular that journalists never threw shoes at him during press conferences.

  7. I predict Chip Bok’s Friday cartoon will show the White House Press Corps being forced to remove their shoes before entering the briefing room.

  8. I’m not sure this incident is any worse than simply having to talk to Helen Thomas

    Having heard her speak at a public event once, I say bring on the footwear.

  9. He actually had a pretty good comeback. I saw a clip of it on… some 1/2 evening news broadcast last night. He said something like “that’s the kind of thing that happens when you live in a free country.”
    I’m not sure that really applies because it’s the president and the guy got hauled away, but it’s the right sentiment toward the insult.

  10. Bush thought of retorting with his Ed Sullivan impersonation but figured, given the foreign press, that it would just go over their heads.

  11. Aw, and after all he’s done for them!

    You gotta admit, though, Bush as good reflexes for a man his age.

  12. “WHO THROWS A SHOE??? HONESTLY!!!”

    Goddamn it, now I have nothing to say.

  13. Best part: he was kinda smiling as he popped back up from behind the podium like a big eared prarie dog. Whack a Bush!

  14. I truly hope the shoes were being thrown at the man and not the idea of the United States. My idea of it, anyway.

  15. Throwing one shoe too high is understandable. The physics of the thrown shoe can be a mystery for some. But to miss twice… in a row? Unacceptable. His professor in Arabic Shoe Insults down at the Learning Annex should hang his head in shame.

  16. I pity the future president that never got to play dodge ball in gym.

  17. “His professor in Arabic Shoe Insults down at the Learning Annex should hang his head in shame.”

    Saddam filled all the Arabic Shoe Insult professorships with Baath Party apparatchiks, firing all the true experts. The new regime kept the apparatchiks in office for the sake of stability. Result: A regrettable education gap in the shoe-throwing field, as these unqualified professors produce a generation of shoe-throwing illiterates.

  18. Throwing one shoe too high is understandable. The physics of the thrown shoe can be a mystery for some. But to miss twice… in a row? Unacceptable. His professor in Arabic Shoe Insults down at the Learning Annex should hang his head in shame.

    When your target is a wily monkey, all bets are off.

  19. Two things I noticed that bothered me. One, where was the secret service? Shouldn’t they have swarmed Bush at the first shoe? How did they know it was only another shoe coming second? And secondly, why didn’t they shoot guy square between the eyes? I think some secret service people need to lose their jobs. If this is how slowly they react Bidgen will be President before summer.

  20. “where was the secret service? Shouldn’t they have swarmed Bush at the first shoe? How did they know it was only another shoe coming second?”

    They were probably thinking, I don’t want to take a shoe for this asshole.

  21. It would’ve been cooler if he’d caught the shoe and thrown it right back at his assailant, ? la Jack Burton.

  22. Elemenope,

    I imagine Mad Max is pretty spot on. A properly trained Arabic Shoe Insulter would have studied the Wily Monkey Defense and prepared a counter.

    Dana Perino got hit by a microphone, but a phallic object ramming her in the face is a fairly typical Friday night for her.

  23. One funny thing to me about the incident is that Bush’s quick reflexes and bemused expression made me think he’s not really all that surprised to be getting shoes thrown at him.

    If someone threw their shoe at me today, I’d be quite surprised. Bush is not.

    This seems to be of a piece with the public demeanor he’s had for the last six months or so, which has been one of resignation. He seems quite aware that everyone hates him and doesn’t seem to be deluding himself about it.

  24. It would’ve been cooler if he’d caught the shoe and thrown it right back at his assailant, ? la Jack Burton.

    Unless he missed and hit an innocent reporter. Then we’d be watching three days of Middle East rioting and Al Jazeera calling for the release of Richard Reid.

  25. That guy should have thrown a pretzel.

  26. With reflexes like that, maybe Bush has a future on the stage in Vegas; Penn and Teller could work him into a knife-throwing routine (or the bullet catching trick).

  27. It’s all in the reflexes…

  28. SugarFree,

    Nah, I said like Jack Burton. Jack wouldn’t miss.

  29. After all of the talk about how The Surge has succeeded, it puts things in perspective to see that the President’s visits to Iraq still have to be surprises.

  30. This may be Bush’s Killer Rabbit moment.

    If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw

    Damned incompetent Iraqis. Bring a pair of combat boots next time!

  31. Bush Shoe-wn

    Is that worse than getting pwnd? Shoe-owned?

  32. Iraqi Regime Change A Shoe-In.

    President, Sitting, Ducks.

  33. Grrr, Ska.

  34. Nah, no one was impressed by how Jimmy Carter dispatched that rabbit.

    Whereas Bush is one shoe-dodging s.o.b.

    Seriously, that was pretty impressive I would have been too surprised to duck that fast.

  35. It’s the birth of a new carnival game.
    Think whack-a-mole, but with shoes and dodging presidents.

  36. You guys are getting this all wrong. It was carefully pre-planned, just like you-know-what.

  37. I’m half his age, and both of those shoes would have hit me.

    Keep in mind there are bright lights pointed at him as well during a conference like this, hard to see much out in the audience.

  38. Keep in mind there are bright lights pointed at him as well during a conference like this, hard to see much out in the audience.

    It was a set-up to make Bush look sympathetic! Call Oliver Stone!

  39. Bummer, too bad it wasnt a hand grenade the guy threw!

    Jess
    http://www.privacy.de.tc

  40. Isn’t that privacy guy’s post actionable?

  41. VM-

    It wasn’t violence. It was a symbolic gesture. A totally, completely earned symbolic gesture.

    Bush and his fellow war-starters should be subject to humiliation and ostracism whenever they go out in public. They should face rotten tomatoes and curses at every speech. Old ladies should make the sign to ward off evil. If there’s a mud paddle, kids should kick it to splash at them. Drivers should flash the middle finger at them. When they visit the zoo, monkeys should fling poo at them. Shopkeepers should kick them out of their stores, and waitresses should spill coffee on them. Whenever they show their faces, every decent person should show them nothing but scorn. They should be subject to constant mockery and derision and total ostracism from every decent place for everything that they have done.

    They deserve nothing less. They are complete and utter scum.

  42. Can we get that shoe throwing journalist a Medal of Freedom, please?

  43. Can we get that shoe throwing journalist a Medal of Freedom, please?

    He *did* miss, so he’s got that going for him.

  44. thoreau,

    Agreed. All this guy did was beat up some stone penises and he got banned from the country for 10 years.

    One night during preparations for the expedition the hermai, heads of the god Hermes on a plinth with a phallus, were mutilated throughout Athens. This was a religious scandal and was seen as a bad omen for the mission. Plutarch explains that Androcles, a political leader, used false witnesses who accused Alcibiades and his friends of mutilating the statues, and of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries.

  45. doktor t –

    pseudo violent.

    don’t mind the verbal stuff at all. it’s that the shoe is on the way to what that privacy guy is saying. hurl insults, not projectiles

    you know how deadly a shoe can be – viz Random Task!

  46. It wasn’t violence. It was a symbolic gesture.

    t, I suspect that if I threw a shoe at you in the US of A, I would be shortly be sitting at county trying to raise bail on for assault and attempted battery.

    Of course it was a violent gesture. The fact that it also has symbolic overtones in primitive cultures doesn’t change that.

  47. That is awesome footage.

    But which is better: this or the footage of John Glenn getting punched on camera sometime in the late 80s.

  48. If you threw a shoe at me in the US of A, my response would be “That really hurt! I mean, who throws a shoe? Honestly! You fight like a woman!”

  49. You fight like a woman!

    Sadly, you have once again highlighted the gender segregation of your chosen field. If you spent any time around women you would know they would never waste a precious shoe on the likes of you.

    Spraying each other playfully with a garden hose? That’s how women fight.

  50. maybe he just wanted to shoe him a good time.

    and i think everyone gets the symbolism of throwing shoes at people, even if it has more zing in other cultures.

  51. The fact that it also has symbolic overtones in primitive cultures doesn’t change that.

    Remember, everyone, people who opposed the Iraq War are racists, who don’t think Arabs are advanced enough for democracy.

  52. Since it was an Iraqi who did it, I’m can’t really get very outraged over the “violent” overtones.

  53. “joe | December 15, 2008, 11:00am | #
    The fact that it also has symbolic overtones in primitive cultures doesn’t change that.

    Remember, everyone, people who opposed the Iraq War are racists, who don’t think Arabs are advanced enough for democracy.”

    I never understood that either from the LGF crowd. Are Arabs and/or Muslims just waiting to welcome liberating American troops so they can explode into an Arab Spring, or are they violent primitive savages who only understand violence? I’ve even seen the two tropes mentioned in the same paragraph by people before(!)

  54. There’s a similar parallel on the left, too, where American soldiers are innocent victims of the proletariat being slaughtered for Haliburton one moment, and vicious, psychotic, redneck killing machines the next.

  55. victims of the proletariat?

    The hell?

  56. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if thousands of people dug back in their closet for an old, worn out pair of shoes and then mailed them to Dubya c/o The White House. Something to enhance his legacy.

  57. Proletarian victims. Sorry. You know what I’m getting at though, right? See: Fahrenheit 9/11. Both tropes are in the same damn movie!

  58. Maybe, t., but I don’t think there’s any question that throwing a shoe is a (relatively minor) act of violence, one that can get you jailed in the US.

    Nice segue from my observation about culture to race, there, joe. Some of us can tell the difference, and some can’t, I guess.

  59. Bush is clearly a master of Shoe-fu. Too bad he didn’t reveal this skill earlier on, because Iraq, with its shoe fetish, would’ve surrendered without a fight.

  60. Nice segue from my observation about culture to race, there, joe.

    Thanks, but I can’t really take credit for it. Accusing people who, allegedly, didn’t think Iraqi culture was ready for democracy of being racists was a consistent talking point of your side for the first several years of the Iraq War. I’m just throwing your own lame-ass argument back in your face.

    Some of us can tell the difference, and some can’t, I guess.? Yes, some of US can. It’s good to see that some of YOU have finally gotten it through your thick skulls, too.

  61. Since this will be president fumble duck’s last Christmas in office, I thought it would be nice to send him an appropriate gift.

  62. joe @ 11:43 am is an excellent example of the collectivist mind at work. “your side” “some of YOU” (not me, you will note, but I nonetheless get smeared with that broad brush).

    So, joe, I guess you won’t mind next time I lump you in with some of your idiot fellow travellers, no?

  63. Hey, look over there, everybody, collectivism! Side we me, side with me!

    But since we’re on the subject of collectivist minds at work, here’s my nomination:

    Of course it was a violent gesture. The fact that it also has symbolic overtones in primitive cultures doesn’t change that.

    Racism is the lowest form of collectivism.

  64. Man, the Curse of Tecumseh is realling phoning it in these days like a latter day Don Adams.

  65. So I’ve got some time to kill and the only question on my mind is, “when is the ‘throw shoes at GWB’ flash game coming out?”

  66. I wonder what Muntazer al-Zaidi was doing with his shoes while Saddam was in power? I will take a guess that he was trembling in them.

  67. Oh, look! Racism, racism, racism, racism, racism, racism. I tire of empty epithets.

  68. Are Arabs and/or Muslims just waiting to welcome liberating American troops so they can explode into an Arab Spring, or are they violent primitive savages who only understand violence? I’ve even seen the two tropes mentioned in the same paragraph by people before(!)

    They’re like junkies seeking treatment at a methadone clinic.

  69. Apologist for Imperialism gets comment #69 in the thread. It seems appropriate.

  70. apologist for imperialism was being ironic.

  71. Which is all the more reason why the coveted comment #69 should go to you.

  72. Just to refresh your memories: Do you remember the images of Iraqi men (many of them) pounding the face of Saddam’s statue with their shoes after the statue was pulled down by American soldiers.

  73. Join The Million Shoe March

    The net is just full of comedy about the really big shoe this morning. Old one-liners that refer to shoes are being recycled everywhere to good effect, and a few Republican Patriots are weighing in with steel-toed jackboots of their own. Stiletto heels for Condoweezie? LMAO!

    But here’s the real punch line: let’s all send Bush a shoe or two for Christmas. Here’s the address:

    President George W. Bush
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Extra props for manure-encrusted farm boots lolz.

  74. Manure-encrusted farm boots violate postal regulations.

  75. Remember, everyone, people who opposed the Iraq War are racists, who don’t think Arabs are advanced enough for democracy.

    Once again winning the argument that was never made. Opposing the Iraq war was not associated with racism. Opposing it because the savages could never embrace democracy was racist. I know it gets confusing sometimes…

  76. Once again winning the argument that was never made. Opposing the Iraq war was not associated with racism. Opposing it because the savages could never embrace democracy was racist.

    No one ever made this argument that I can now lay out with perfect recall.

    I guess I was never called a racist who didn’t think Arabs were fit for democracy. I guess no one else was, either. I guess I invented those memories of war supporters spreading that accusation far and wide against everyone who said the war was a bad idea.

    Right. How silly of me.

  77. If only Married with Children were still on TV (I mean, not just in reruns…) can you imagine how many jokes Al Bundy would get out of this?

  78. I guess I invented those memories of war supporters spreading that accusation far and wide against everyone who said the war was a bad idea.

    Correct.

  79. “This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

    Have you noticed how many press accounts left out the part about the widows, orphans and dead people?

    Bush shoulda said “oh fuck, you noticed that?”

  80. Do you remember the images of Iraqi men (many of them) pounding the face of Saddam’s statue with their shoes after the statue was pulled down by American soldiers.

    I do, indeed. What happened next?

  81. It should be no surprise that Bush is skilled at ducking.

  82. Not a bad moment for Bush IMO.

    Good job with the ninja ducking
    Good job with the response after the matter.

    Good job tying it into freedom.

  83. “””Have you noticed how many press accounts left out the part about the widows, orphans and dead people?”””

    Every press account I’ve seen or heard has mentioned it. I’ve only seen a few so far.

    “”””Opposing the Iraq war was not associated with racism.””””

    I heard far more supporters being racist than the opposition. I’d love to have a dollar for every sandnigger, or towelhead commment I heard from the pro-war crowd.

  84. Both expressions of racism, and accusations of racism, were flowing like the Merrimack out of the pro-war side back in aught-two and aught-three.

    Half of them were talking about taking it to the A-rabs and showin’ em who’s boss, while the other half were saying that anyone who doubted that Iraq would quickly turn into a war Minnesota thought that Arabs were unfit for democracy.

    It’s pretty amazing what the hawks used to be able to get away with. What a strange period of history to live through.

  85. “””””WHO THROWS A SHOE??? HONESTLY!!!””””

    Eddie Murphy’s mom.

  86. I heard far more supporters being racist than the opposition. I’d love to have a dollar for every sandnigger, or towelhead commment I heard from the pro-war crowd.

    I recall all of the above. We shouldn’t be there because sandniggers aren’t worth dead Americans, and they’re too dumb for democracy anyway, to we should go over there and blow up some islams. The “they aren’t ready for democracy” was the more subtle form of racism. I could be wrong. Some people hear dog whistles that aren’t there. You know, THOSE types.

  87. “bigbigslacker | December 15, 2008, 3:35pm | #

    I guess I invented those memories of war supporters spreading that accusation far and wide against everyone who said the war was a bad idea.

    Correct.”

    Forty three minutes. Impressive.

  88. I also heard them both.

    From the anti war side, I heard:

    “they have been fighting eachother for thousands of years, it will never change”.

    “they have a different culture, they are not ready for democracy”

    And various other forms of subtle and not so subtle racism.

    From the pro war side, I have heard “turn the whole region into a glass lake”

    “shoot ’em all till they learn”

    And various other Dondero-isms.

  89. From a July 2003 report in the Times of London:

    A chief executioner to one of Saddam’s sons has revealed how he helped drag two victims into a cage to be devoured by lions.The executioner said that he was ordered to seize two 19-year-old students and take them to a farm of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s oldest son who was killed by American forces last week.As soon as they arrived the students were dragged to a cage containing the lions and forced inside. “I saw the head of the first student literally come off his body with the first bite,” he said. He then had to stand and watch the animals devour the two young men: “By the time they were finished there was little left but for the bones and bits and pieces of unwanted flesh.”He was told later that the two young men “had competed with Uday

  90. From the anti war side, I heard:

    It’s worth remembering that the Buchananites and some pretty nasty paleos were part of “the anti war side.”

    Right between ANSWER and Raimondo. Sure was fun being a liberal in 2002. Good times.

  91. You tell those Iraqis who think they know more about their lives than you do, anonymous internet guy posting safely from the US!

    You tell ’em good!

  92. First they came for the shoes.

  93. Reminds me of the old joke about the American and the Soviet Russian.

    American: In my country, I can stand in the middle of the capital and yell “President Reagan is an idiot!”

    Russian: Da, in my country we have same freeedom. I too can stand in middle of capital and yell “President Reagan is an idiot!”

    While you shouldn’t throw shoes at world leaders, it’s nice that Iraqis live in a country where the official penalty is no longer torture followed by execution. In fact, he’ll probably get a lighter punishment than an American who did the same thing here.

    And for the record, polls from near the height of the violence in 2007 still showed most Iraqis believe removing Saddam was the right decision, including over 90% of Kurds anda solid majority of Shia. Only Sunnis (who benefitted under Saddam) argued against it.

  94. Ha! Saddam was so popular that journalists never threw shoes at him during press conferences.

    Heh. Reminds of the story Eason Jordan told about the Iraqi cameraman he met in the 1990s who was missing several front teeth. Apparently the guy had once used an unflattering camera angle on Udai, who decided to interpose himself into the video editing process by having his bodyguards knock the cameraman’s teeth out with pliers. He told the cameraman never to get them replaced, so he would always remember.

    CNN, of course, did not report this at the time.

  95. kwais said:

    From the anti war side, I heard:

    “they have been fighting eachother for thousands of years, it will never change”.

    How, exactly, is this racist unless you are severing it from centuries of imperialism? Could someone please show me a people anywhere who have _not_ been killing each other for thousands of years!

    Regardless of your viewpoint, but all USers are guilty by association of killing all across the world.

  96. I suspect that if I threw a shoe at you in the US of A, I would be shortly be sitting at county trying to raise bail on for assault and attempted battery.

    I’m trying to imagine the reaction of the 911 operator when you call saying that someone threw a shoe at you. “We’ll send someone right now to take that assaulter away in cuffs” isn’t coming to mind for some reason.

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  98. Bush is going to award himself a purple heart for this.

  99. I’m not sure this incident is any worse than simply having to talk to Helen Thomas

    LOL!!! Didn’t you get the memo that she’s a “national treasure?”

  100. I think the Iraqi journalist thought Bush was a Leprechaun.

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