Editor’s Pick
DECEMBER 15, 2008 10:04AM

I Might Have To Take My Shoes Off

Rate: 17 Flag

Iraq destruction 7


My buddy calls me yesterday, during the game.

I don’t answer the phone.

He calls back later.  

S. comes looking for me.  “Can you call him back?  That’s the second time he’s woken me up looking for you.”

I pretty much only talk to my parents and my brother on Sundays – years of working on the phone during the week have resulted in my designating Sunday as a day without talking on the phone unnecessarily.

I call my buddy back during a commercial.  He is spitting fire as he tells me “somebody threw a shoe at the president.”  My mind is elsewhere – the Atlanta Falcons had already won their game, and I was dozing off during the one-sided mismatch between the lackluster Denver Broncos and the highly motivated Carolina Panthers.

“What shoes?”

“Didn’t you hear about this?  It’s got to be all over the news.”

‘Didn’t I tell you I was watching the game?”

My lack of interest in any details ratchets my buddy’s level of exasperation up.  His impatience is literally dripping from his voice as he tells me “an Iraqi reporter at a press conference in Iraq threw his shoes at President Bush!  Can you believe that?  This shit is crazy.”

There is silence, because I am trying, while I am listening to him, to see what happened on the last play.  I move to pick up my remote to rewind the action, but realize it will be a waste of time until I hang up the phone.

“So the president got hit with a shoe.”

“Man,” my buddy yelled, YOU DON”T THROW STUFF AT THE PRESIDENT!  He’s the president.  He’s a head of state.  I’m not talking about people off the street – this guy was a member of the press!”

In the middle of a nice, quiet, relaxing Sunday afternoon, I’m supposed to be worried about George Bush?  And after I think about it for a minute, I add Barack Obama to the list – I can’t worry about him all the time either.

I don’t know what triggers my response, but it is sudden and unrestrained.  “WE BLEW UP THEIR ENTIRE COUNTRY AND WE EXPECT TO BE GREETED WITH OPEN ARMS?  What did we liberate? I’ve been following this closer than you have, I guess.  

We blow up everything.  We wipe out a big chunk of their economy.  We kill people by the thousands.  

THEN we show up and tell them we will help them rebuild everything we just blew up.  Waste a HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS – do you hear me – A HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS doing a half-assed job of that, and now we’re leaving.  Oh yeah, and we had no business doing any of this in the first place.  I’d be feeling real good about America right now if I was that reporter.”

“But it’s the PRESIDENT, man.  The PRESIDENT of the United States.  You just can’t do that.”

“Why not?  He wasn’t in the United States.  That’s their country.  We don’t run shit over there.”

“Man, you’re crazy.  You DO NOT do that to the president of the United States.”

Our American government plays at a kindergarten-level of diplomacy, a kind of posturing at international relations pomp and circumstance we revere as if we really mean the things we say, while we are very, very likely to be killing someone, somewhere, in secret, at this very second.  

Our rhetoric speaks of spreading justice and democracy around the world when what we practice is a doctrine of control of sovereign nations and what we perpetuate is the continued existence of global inequality. If even one tenth of what has gone on in Iraq had happened here, millions of us would have choked to death by now on our own rage at the inhumanity and barbarism of our attackers.  

Thank God my buddy didn’t call me back during the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game.  

I might have had to take MY shoes off – and I wear size 15.


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Some body should throw their shoes at the idiot car makers and tell em hell naw, no bail out.
hey, at least the Falcons won that ugly one before you were so rudely interrupted.

I don't remember the grenade that was thrown at W. a few years ago in the Republic of Georgia generating this much news.

I do remember when my friend Bobby Rashad Jones bear-hugged Bush and lifted him off the ground after receiving his USNA diploma back in the spring of 2001--before all the shit went down. That little incident made the front page of the Washington Post and almost cost Rashad his commission.
Respect is earned, not automatically conferred. I don't generally hold with such displays, but sometimes you have to throw a shoe to make your point. I watched the documentary "The Devil Came On Horseback" when Condi Rice viewed evidence of Darfur's government sponsored genocide. She left the room with no comment, and I wish someone had thrown a shoe at HER.
Didn't Condi go shoe-shopping during Katrina?

Kris, I am on vacation, and like you, the only news that made it through my filter yesterday was the shoe-throwing -- and I cheered. I might have to blog about it. I am basically non-violent, but as Stellaa says, this is the perfect gesture for a man who's killed perhaps hundreds of thousands of people. I believe shoes may be the outer limits of non-violence, but I'm probably stretching it a bit. Thanks for the post.
Not only is W clueless, but he actually joked that he thought the shoes were a size 10. He is so out of it that it's scary. The only 10 in the room was his f_cking IQ. Can you tell I am totally fed up with this moron? Thanks for the post Kris. And those Panthers looked mighty fine.
I would throw all my shoes at him if I could. That DOG! And I love my shoes.
I'd love to see even more shoes thrown...

Your buddy's outrage is just pure and simple American Exceptionalism. Somewhere I read that the Iraqi press also had instructions to call GWB "Your/His Excellency." Can you imagine?!
I am incensed at this gratuitous insult!

to dogs! (oh come on, you knew that was coming)
Could we stretch this into a movement? Hang a shoe on your front door, from now until the inauguration?
Since Bush and his cronies started working on the propaganda campaign for the “Bush legacy", he is even more out of touch with reality and seems to believe all the lies they've fabricated. Maybe this will help him realize what the Iraqi people really think of him. Do you think he has seen the demonstrations on the streets asking for the reporter's release?
I'm sure that a Republican spin-doctor is telling "W" that this was like the women throwing under-garments at Elvis. What fitting legacy. The Iraqis love us so much they're donating footwear to the president.

And Yes the Panthers did look pretty good. As a Falcon's fan, I would have preferred a different outcome.

This piece got a sweet piece of above-the-fold real estate on the regular salon.com page (as of 5:50 pm est). Hope you get a chance to see it.

Great read as usual.
Of the major architects of the Iraq War, most have been able to remain in their pride bubbles surrounded by people who tell them that, yes, indeed, the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do and that all is well there.

This may be the first time Bush has really had to face the idea that some Iraqis are legitimately angry at what he's done. I'll bet it was a shocker for him.
I'll add my outrage. The reporter called Bush a dog, now my dogs have never bitten anyone, come when called, and, while a bit reserved with strangers, once somebody passes the sniff test are very friendly. Also, they don't crap where they eat. I wish George W. were more like my dogs.

BTW - if he thought Bush was a dog, why didn't he use a rolled-up paper instead of a shoe (I wouldn't hit my dogs any more than I would my kids, but I understand that this is the instrument of preference )?
I want to see a poll of how many Americans wish those shoes would have hit W! That would have been even more hilarious! My hat's off to that gutsy journalist!
I too wish the shoes had hit him in the face. Still, the upside is that Bush's junket in hopes of rewriting his legacy degenerated into farce. The reporter's actions, broadcast live, capture the truth about how Iraqis and the world feel about Bush, and represent his true legacy. The hypocrisy of Bush's statement shrugging the incident off even while you can hear Montather Al-Zeidi being savagely beaten in the background is jarring.

Amidst all the hoo-hah, did anybody see the news that our own gov't, including McCain, on Thursday last definitively pronounced the policies of GITMO and Abu Ghraib tantamount to unambiguous torture and thus war crimes? That should have been the lead story of the weekend, and all the talk shows. But the mainstream US press is conspicuously silent, as in almost total blackout. Here's a foreign link.
I'm with you Kris. Big deal. I don't like violence, but Bush has more than a shoe throwing from karma coming his way. True, it could have hurt him, but it's not like he's dodging IED's every damn day. He's in a wore torn country of his own creation, a shoe is the least of my worries.

rated! Go Falcons!
Anyone interested in a post-graduate discussion of this incident would be well advised to join Paul Levinson's excellent thread on the subject.

Here we have posters who don't have the intellectual chops to distinguish between legitimate protest and physical assault, to understand that the history of the world didn't start with the attack upon Iraq (can you imagine how a shoe-thrower at a Saddam Hussein press conference would have been treated?), and to understand that thanks to policies which they in their ivory tower decry, they have the life and liberty to make fools of themselves here.

And what about a bit of perspective and proportionality? While the usual suspects are whooping it up on the streets of Baghdad (is Paris closed?) the duly elected representatives of the new democracy are enthusiastically endorsing a pact for the future with the United States of America. Interesting that the marginalized in America sympathize with the marginalized in Iraq.
"Here we have posters who don't have the intellectual chops to distinguish between legitimate protest and physical assault, to understand that the history of the world didn't start with the attack upon Iraq (can you imagine how a shoe-thrower at a Saddam Hussein press conference would have been treated?), and to understand that thanks to policies which they in their ivory tower decry, they have the life and liberty to make fools of themselves here. "

Gordon, Gordon, Gordon...
GordonO is an admirer of both Sarah Palin and Camille Paglia as intellectual powers. Enough said.

I actually moseyed over to Levinson's pad, because I generally like his stuff. Holy moly. He has this pedantic post about speech being protected under the first amendment, but not actions. (Paul, dear, the incident happened in Iraq, and that's another country, sweetie! And they don't have a first amendment. Or White Castle sliders.) Levinson posits that an act of assault is not protected, and the Iraqi govt should "throw the book at him"

Folks, for criminey's sake, you can HEAR the guy getting the living crap beaten out of him by Iraqi goons during Bush's Q&A. Justice, Iraqi style, not learned but certainly refreshed at the hands of the American occupiers.
I would ask GordO and Mr. Levinson how many of GWB's family members have died as a result of this occupation? They get lost in their own grandiosity and stand to close to the forest to see the trees.
Delusions of grandeur emanate from your every word Gordon. Do you ever go back and read your comments? Ever? I'm trying to remain civil and objective. I don't care that you disagree with my post or anyone (make that EVERYONE) else. It's the words you choose. If you were of true intellect and high moral standard, you would simplify your comments to constructive criticism. I refuse to stoop to the curb and your level. Clear?
First, congratulations on getting almost as few comments on your posts as I get on mine. I regard it as a badge of honor. In private e-conversations I've had with OS writers whose work I admire, we've remarked that a post's quality frequently bears an inverse proportionate relationship to its patronage.

But facts are facts, and although I am indeed an admirer of both Palin and Paglia, I never claimed that the former had anything to do with "intellectual." You made that part up. Not nice.

But you're from San Francisco. "Enough said." ;)
Last comment was for whitenoise. Sorry for not heading it right.
Gordon, using the most poly-syllabic words in a post, and the most obscure references doesn't make you a great writer, some great writers may use these words, but many write much more simplistic and naturally without a thesaurus next to them. Don't try and fool yourself about lack of readership. Many of the top read, rated and commented writers on here are as good as they come.

Sour Grapes my man, sour grapes.