To prove to himself once and for all that everything is going swell in Iraq, George Bush spent one of his last weekends in office sneaking into Baghdad to say, “So long, suckers! Glad we destroyed you!” in front of what he assumed would be a friendly, naïve audience of Iraqi politicians and US troops.
Like so many things Bush assumed during the last eight years, he was wrong.
No sooner did the president and Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki begin a news conference Sunday afternoon when Muntazer al-Zaidi, a journalist from news network al-Baghdadia who was sitting in the third row, jumped up shouting, "It is the farewell kiss, you dog." He then threw his shoes at Bush.
Whoops! Showing somebody the soles of your shoes is the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam’s statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles. And, perhaps, souls, which it turns out they sold to the Americans and got paid for staging the “spontaneous” demonstration for CNN’s cameras.
But here’s the kicker.
Bush later told reporters, "I don't know what the guy's cause is... I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it."
The president didn’t know “what the guy’s cause is …”? Here is my theory: He was pissed off about Bush invading Iraq on a long and ever-changing list of lies and then occupying the country for six years. Along the way, as many as 1-million Iraqi’s were killed, tortured, maimed, wounded or left homeless – all by a lethal mélange of American forces, insurgent fighters, ethnic cleansing and criminal gangs – the country was left in tatters, a hand-picked American puppet government is running things, and there’s a Prime Minister who is showing every sign of turning into a dictatorial bastard.
Freedom from US-generated oppression, torture and destruction seems to me like a worthwhile cause if you happen to live in Iraq. Definitely worthy of tossing a pair of Florsheims at the guy responsible for it all.
Then Dubya got out of Dodge the same way he entered: On the sneak. Air Force One made a steep, high speed, spiralling takeoff, jamming devices in the communications center on the upper deck going full blast to thwart insurgents from locking radar on the plane while one hand in the cockpit hovered above the switch that would launch anti-rocket and other defensive weapons, all so Bush could survive leaving the land he thinks he freed from tyranny so it can return to its life of misery.
As the plane levelled off, no doubt Bush sat in his conference room in the forward section and told aides it was a good trip, he was glad to make one last visit to the scene of his great foreign policy triumph.
Poor George. He just doesn’t get it, does he? And so, as the sun sets on his term on office, he is showing one last time that he can delude himself at home and overseas.
*When I was young, oh so much younger than today, I believed that the United States would become completely unhinged at some point in my lifetime. This...