Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pardon My Feet

by Larry Mongoss, guest blogger

I can remember back when everyone was talking about how Reagan won the cold war, and that Bush 43 was going to defeat the “axis of evil” the same way. I was scared out of my wits. We had a dimwit President who wanted to revise history then embrace that revision and launch Armageddon. Or so I thought. As bad as the Iraq war has been, it did not measure up to my fears. I am almost finished shaking now and finally, when the other shoe drops, it is happily aimed at Bush.

We keep hearing stories of protesters celebrating the action of the stocking footed journalist. Indeed, I have heard no one strongly upset about what happened; perhaps they have stopped shaking as well. Even the secret service seems to be downplaying it as an unimportant incident. I guess that might be because they are embarrassed.

Beside the fun though, what is most interesting about the shoes? It is not the demonstration that there are angry people. We kind of knew that; Bush probably even had a clue. No, what is interesting is how well the President handled it. There was no fear in his face, just a slight glint of amusement. And he followed up almost immediately with a joke.

This little incident has probably more to boost Bush’s favorability rating than anything else that has happened this year. He came across as cool, collected, and fully aware that some people do not like him. He did not get angry or do anything that would give the remotest hint that he wanted revenge.

So, as the Iraqi’s struggle to come up with an appropriate punishment, they should consider the following. While throwing a shoe may be big insult in the Middle East. Standing up to an insult is something that big people do. The journalist’s action, rather than doing anything to harm Bush, has shown him in that light.

While it may be a crime to attack a foreign dignitary in Iraq, it is not a crime to insult one, especially when the insult is so gracefully deflected. The best punishment for this man may simply be the knowledge that he was foiled in his intent. Worse, he helped the one he wanted to hurt.

The dilemma facing the Iraqi government need not be a dilemma at all. This is, after all, the time for Presidential pardons. If Bush were to issue a symbolic one for this journalist, the Iraqi’s could choose to simply drop the matter with no side losing face.


Jerry Waxler said...

Oh, yes. Somewhere I saw the comment that this shoe-throwing incident proves that free speech is starting to take hold in Iraq. Perhaps Bush could take credit for this journalist having the freedom to throw a shoe. This might turn out to be the best legacy of his presidency.

Linda Austin said...

Of course, the media plays up how the Iraqi people and the entire Middle East think this journalist is a hero, forgetting that if Saddam was still in charge the guy would be thrown headfirst into a plastic shredder. Yes, there's a wee bit of freedom that needs to be acknowledged thanks to the U.S. Regardless, the journalist is guilty of assaulting a guest head of state with a weapon, meaning to cause physical harm. He and his people should be ashamed of his conduct, esp as Muslims are to show courtesy to guests. Bush showed amazing grace under fire.

Larry Mongoss said...

Thanks for the comments.

Jerry, the spread of opinion on what Bush's legacy will be continues to surprise me. I want to wait a couple of years and see if there is convergence on what we will look back on in in 25 years. That is some sort of forward memory.

Linda, I actually spent some time puzzling over how dangerous shoes can be. They are now x-rayed when we get on planes. I assume they don't let reporters into press conferences wearing steel tipped boots, but I really don't know.

Kevcham said...

I agree that Bush is a dimwit when it comes to governing. But why do I never see the many dimwit Chinese leaders referred to as dimwits in this blog or other China-related blogs? Are they all geniuses or are people afraid of someone?

Xujun Eberlein said...

Kevcham, that's an odd comment. Apparently you have not really read this blog. I also doubt you have read many other China-related blogs as you seem to imply. Lots of those blogs criticize Chinese leaders both as a group and as individuals.

Calling names is the easiest thing to do. It does not require much thought (nor serve much of a purpose out of context). I can tell you that, IMO, Jiang Zeming and Li Peng were the dumbest leaders of modern China, and the current leader Hu Jintao has the dullest personality. But then what?