It may turn out to be one of the most lasting images of the Bush presidency. The leader of the free world ducks as an angry journalist throws a shoe at him. President Bush was in Iraq to sign an agreement that would require -- by Iraqi and international law -- that occupying US forces withdraw. Shoes were thrown, things went haywire, and we had the Iraq war in miniature -- a nearly perfect metaphor for the whole thing. While Bush was talking about how wonderful things are in Iraq, Iraqis hate him for how awful things are in Iraq. Telling that lie here, where we're protected from the truth by a play-along media, is one thing. Telling that lie there, where they live with the truth every day, is another thing entirely.
Middle east expert Juan Cole tells us that the shoe-thrower, Muntazir al-Zaidi, was reacting to the things he had witnessed in his country, calling out, "Killer of Iraqis, killer of children!" as the guards took him down.
[Zaidi] had covered the US bombing of Sadr City last spring, in support of PM Nuri al-Maliki's incursion into this stronghold of the Sadr Movement and its Mahdi Army, and is said to have been emotionally affected by the sight of that destruction
The frequent US bombing of civilian Iraqi cities that are already under US military occupation has been one of the most under-reported stories of the Iraq War.
Raining death from above tends to make people angry, I guess. As an American, I wouldn't know -- that's just something that happens in other places. Places we invade. It's the sort of thing that we do to other countries, so I wouldn't have any idea what it feels like, what it looks like, what it smells like, or how it the memories wake you up in a cold sweat. Never having been on the receiving end of aerial bombings, I'm not in a position to know these sort of things. Living within the empire has its privileges.
But, as realistic as I am about what war in your front yard might do to a person, others are less circumspect. Where some of us -- i.e., those who are either sane or aren't pricks -- recognize that most people wouldn't like having bombs dropped on their heads, others don't. They may lack empathy or they may believe that their world view is more important than even lives or they may just be as stupid as boxes of rocks, but there are those who don't see the problem. These people believe that Iraqis should not only be OK with their neighborhoods -- and their neighbors -- being blown all to hell in a stupid, needless war in search of a reason for existing, but that they should be grateful for the honor.
I think, at this point, we should probably call these people exactly what they are -- sick sons of bitches. For example, NPR's Juan Williams. Juan sat in on Bill O'Reilly's unfortunate BS show and got all bent out of shape that Zairi didn't throw a thank you note at Bush.
But on a serious level, how many American lives have been sacrificed to the cause of liberating Iraq? How much money has been spent while they’re not spending their own profits from their oil? American money. So I just think it’s absolutely the act of an ingrate for them to behave in this way. Just unbelievable to me.
What a total ass. What a complete waste of a nondescript, TV-friendly suit. We invade their damned country for no real reason -- or, at least, for no legitimate reason -- blow the living hell out of everything, create a massive refugee crisis, enable a wave of ethnic cleansing, reduce entire cities to either rubble, anarchy, or both, our military and our mercenaries commit atrocities, and Juan Williams can't believe they aren't grateful. What a useless, useless human being.
National Review's Andy McCarthy is similarly useless, repeating the same talking points:
Thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds have been expended to provide Iraqis the opportunity to live freely. And this despite the facts that (a) the U.S. interest in Iraqi democracy remains tenuous…and (b) Americans were assured, when the nation-building enterprise commenced, that oil-rich Iraq would underwrite our sacrifices on its behalf. Yet, to be blunt, the Iraqis remain ingrates. That stubborn fact complicates everything.
This is all part of a concerted effort by conservatives to resell the Iraq invasion and repair the historical legacy of George W. Bush. While Bush feels the need to be remembered as anything other than the worst president in American history, these pundits need to be seen as not stupid. And, since they stupidly supported this invasion, they have to convince you that the invasion was not only a really good idea, but that it's going swimmingly. The fear is that someone will realize that they've been wrong about everything -- and continue to be wrong. For professional opinion-givers, it's not helpful when everyone agrees your opinions are idiocy.
As the Bush years wind down, everyone on the right is busy rewriting history. The whole Iraq enterprise is wonderful and perfect and beautiful. After January 20th, it's all going to be Obama's fault. They're desperate to launch the narrative that everything was going gangbusters right up until a new president messed with it -- then everything went all to hell. Thankfully, some in the media aren't buying it. When neocon pundit Frank Gaffney appeared on MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews wouldn't let him get away with it:
MATTHEWS: You guys sold the war as a nuclear threat to the United States. A nuclear weapon was going to be delivered by a nuclear delivery device. It was going to take the weapon and drop it here. You sold every trick you could to get us into this war. Now you’re back pedaling. And I do find it astounding. The Vice President of the United States is --
GAFFNEY: How do you feel, Chris?
MATTHEWS: This is how I feel. Four thousand people are dead because of how you feel. And Frank, you’re wrong about this because you don’t even seem to care your facts were wrong.
GAFFNEY: Chris, there were --
MATTHEWS: You admit your facts were wrong and it doesn’t bother you.
GAFFNEY: May I state my position rather than you stating it? May I do that? My position is that it’s regrettable that any Americans died. It is regrettable that they had to die, but I believe they did have to die.
For what, Frank Gaffney? They had to die for what? Anyone who remembers the first Gulf War remembers just how ineffective -- almost comically so -- the Iraqi military was against US forces. In the years between then and the invasion, despite the sanctions on Iraq, we're supposed to believe that Saddam managed to inflate his military might to the point where Iraq was on par with an honest to goodness superpower that had completely defeated him so embarrassingly just a few years before? Really? Really?
I'm not ruling out the possibility that Frank Gaffney -- as well as Juan Williams and Andy McCarthy -- may just be stupid enough to believe that. But I'm not. Iraq was never a real threat to the US.
"Bush the Hero" isn't going to be the image people carry forward after he leaves office, as much as these professional BS artists need that to be the case. The last image from the Bush administration will probably be him ducking that shoe, thrown by an Iraqi enraged by pointless slaughter and the simple stupidity of the neocons and their president. It'll be Bush the Unjust, Bush the Fool, Bush the Failure that we take forward and history remembers.
The self-serving lies and heartless false outrage of his fellow unjust fools and failures won't change that a bit. Too many people are committed to remembering George W. Bush as he is; an idiotic military mind, a ridiculously awful president, and a failure as a human being.