Sunday, December 14, 2008

They like him, they really like him

When the Bush administration took us to war, supporters gushed that we would be greeted as liberators across the country and that the grateful Iraqis would erect a statue to Bush in the central square Baghdad. That's not quite how things have worked out. The country has been in almost total chaos for the last six years. Much of the violence has been aimed at the US and the new government that we put in place. Just three weeks ago, thousands gathered in the central square Baghdad to burn Bush in effigy (giving hundreds of headline writers the excuse to use a "burning bush" pun).

Today, Bush made another of his surprise visits to Baghdad to admire his work. The reception was not what he might have hoped for. At press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a television journalist named Muthathar al Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush shouting "This is a farewell kiss, you dog." CNN correspondent Michael Ware reported that:
it just sailed past his head and while the man was dragged out of the room, President Bush is said to have remarked that, "This was a size 10 shoe he threw at me you may want to know," even as the man was heard screaming in the hallway.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino apparently received a black eye in the scuffle while her boss was making jokes. While assaulting a foreign leader is no trivial matter in any country, I hope some of the Baghdad foreign correspondents keep track of the fate of al Zaidi. How he is treated and whether he receives due process will be a very real measure of the success of Bush's claims to be able to spread democracy at the tip of a bayonet. My own feeling is that foreign press attention is al Zaidi's only hope of surviving this.

No comments: