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NAX: Shoe attack could help change the world as we know it - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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NAX: Shoe attack could help change the world as we know it

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Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 12:00 am

Perhaps George W. Bush has achieved his goal of establishing a democracy in Iraq. Apparently the doctrine of freedom of expression is in full flight.

And what better way to see this in action than to have an Iraqi television journalist hurl his shoes at none other than the aforementioned Bush.

The bizarre incident occurred Sunday during a Baghdad news conference. Muntazer al-Zaidi earned his 15 minutes of fame when he threw his shoes at our outgoing president in apparent protest of the actions of U.S. troops over the past few years.

Bush, to his credit, showed calm under fire by ducking the incoming rounds. And when he was asked for details, Bush joked that he could report they were size 10 shoes.

But the Iraqi shoe man landed in detention with a broken arm and ribs as well as cuts to his face, according to his brother. However, lots of Iraqis are hailing him as a hero.

You know, this might just be a hint to Bush that it’s time to let Iraq deal with its own problems and quit spending all those American bucks to protect the place from its own people.

Here are just a few of the reports.

 Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took part in street protests demanding Zaidi’s release and hailing him a national hero. In Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city, north of Baghdad, an estimated 1,000 protesters carried banners and chanted slogans in his support. >> In Baghdad, the head of the Iraqi Union of Journalists described Zaidi’s action as “strange and unprofessional” but urged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to give him clemency. “Even if he has committed a mistake, the Government and the judiciary are broad-minded and we hope they consider his release because he has a family and he is still young,” Mouyyad al-Lami said. “We hope this case ends before going to court.”

In one example of Zaidi’s status, a geography teacher at a Baghdad elementary school asked her students if they had seen the footage of the shoe-throwing. “All Iraqis should be proud of this Iraqi brave man, Muntazer. History will remember him forever,” she said.

Zaidi’s action also won him widespread plaudits in the Arab world, where President Bush’s policies have drawn broad hostility. Lebanese television channel NTV went as far as offering a job to the journalist. In its evening news bulletin on Monday, it said that if he takes the job he will be paid “from the moment the first shoe was thrown.”

Yeah, it’s time to quit trying to impose American standards on a region that has its own centuries-old set of values. They don’t understand us. And we don’t “get” them.

But something positive might result. Bush, in his waning days as commander in chief, could become known as the “sole survivor.” It might even help his popularity in the polls at home. And since this is sort of reminiscent of the more serious attack on Ronald Reagan, will a push for more laws result?

After all, air travelers already have to remove their shoes when passing through security. Maybe now shoes will join the list of items that you can’t carry on board. Think of the retail surge and new jobs that will be created by all the shoe stores that spring up in airports.

Naturally, we might expect a shoe-control movement, urging a three-day waiting period to obtain footwear. And there could even be an all-out ban on “assault-type boots.”

It could even become part of W’s legacy — the president who wasn’t soft on shoes.

Odessa, TX

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