(UWIRE) It’s the end of the line for President George W. Bush, and instead of flying high in the ‘lame duck’ period of his presidency, he must aim low.
Why? He must duck to avoid flying shoes. Yes, shoes.
On Sunday, Bush traveled to Iraq to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The two held a press conference to highlight positive results of the United States’ struggle in Iraq over the previous five years, as well as the long road ahead for the nation.
Suddenly, a reporter with the Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadia television station stood up amongst the reporters and shouted in Arabic, ‘This is a farewell kiss, you dog!’ and hurled a pair of shoes at the president. The president ducked when the shoes were thrown, and was not harmed.
I’ll admit, seeing the footage made me laugh. Throwing a pair of shoes? I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Even Bush joked about the incident afterwards. However, when one thinks about the significance of the reporter’s actions, it isn’t as funny as I initially thought.
It’s sad that the actions of United States leaders (not just Bush) inspire so much anger not only towards Americans, but also towards people around the world. This reporter’s actions speak to the impact of our nation throughout the world. It seems Americans are not alone in disapproval of the Iraq war.
In Iraqi culture, the reporter’s action show the lowest form of contempt for another human. Throwing a shoe or even so much as showing someone the soles of your shoes is considered a grave offense. While the action may not have caused serious injury to the president, it may be considered a testament to foreign sentiment regarding President Bush, our foreign policy and possibly our government as a whole.
To put the action into perspective, many Iraqis also threw shoes at the statue of Saddam Hussein when U.S. forces invaded Iraq in 2003. It seems as though what goes around has come around. To some, President Bush now represents the same hated leader that was removed from power at the start of the war.
Additionally, this action was committed by a journalist, which speaks to the strong feelings of resentment this man must have felt. This wasn’t simply an angry civilian; this was a person who was supposed to be objective and impartial.
The journalist should not have used his access to the president to act in such a way, and I am saddened to see that this man felt so much frustration towards Bush that he was compelled to act as he did.
I too have been frustrated by many actions of the Bush administration throughout the past eight years, I hate to see that so many share that same sentiment and I hope for our sake, as well as the rest of the world, that things can change.
I don’t believe that everyone has to love America and its leader at all times, because I recognize that people will have their differences in opinion. I don’t expect a sort of ‘Team America’ to come soaring in and police the world [insert Team America’s explicit patriotic cry here].
However, I do hate to see that people dislike our nation and its leader so much. We play such a large role in the world, and as we face difficult times ahead, I don’t want other nations to revel in our troubles, or wish ill upon us.
I hope that the new year can bring a public relations makeover for our country and foreign affairs. Hopefully, the new administration can work to create policies that both help foreign nations rebuild and thrive. I also hope they can work to prevent our nation from not only slipping economically, but also from slipping in public opinion among the rest of the world.