Shoes and Democracy

You know, even some Americans *cough* have reacted with amusement at the shoe throwing incident. Bush turned the shoe incident into a serious of puns, saying that he’d “seen the man’s sole” for example, and lauded the incident as a moment in democracy, in effect, that people in a democracy are able to politically express themselves in anger and that’s something that, in light of war, can be celebrated. The president trusts Iraq leadership so much, in fact, that they are leaving the punishment of the reporter who threw the shoes up to the Iraqi government.

A White House spokeswoman said Tuesday that Iraqi leaders are the ones to decide whether punishment is appropriate for the Iraqi journalist who stunned observers by hurling two shoes at President George W. Bush from close range.

“The president believes that Iraq is a sovereign country, a democratic country, and they will have a process that they follow on this,” White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters. “The president harbors no hard feelings about the incident.”

Which is great. Except that the reporter is reportedly being held at a US-run prison, Camp Cropper, and shows signs of torture. (This wouldn’t be the first time reporter Muntadar al-Zaidi has been beaten — he was reportedly kidnapped and interrogated in late-2007.)

I’m quite with Digby right here:

I actually thought Bush handled this thing quite well. He was literally quick on his feet and didn’t take it too seriously. (I thought the “I saw into his sole” thing was particularly good.) He could do a great thing right now by making a public appeal to the Iraqis to pardon this man. It would be magnanimous and do his personal reputation a world of good — and it would be good for both countries.

If you’re so inclined, you can contact the White House and politely ask them to support clemency for al-Zaidi.

[via Shakesville]


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

33 comments for “Shoes and Democracy

  1. December 16, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    It would be a *huge* opportunity to restore some tiny kernel of dignity to his presidential legacy if Bush called for clemency for this guy. But to do so might mean to acknowledge that Iraq as it stands isn’t quite the democratic utopia Bush was saying it is.

  2. Angela
    December 16, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Dunno Lauren, I know our guys can be pretty tough, but if this poor man is gettin the crap kicked out of him by the Iraqis, then perhaps a letter should be sent to the Al-Maliki government asking for a pardon.

  3. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Lauren, I’m with you minus your relatively favorable response to Bush’s action:

    You quoted Digby:

    “He could do a great thing right now by making a public appeal to the Iraqis to pardon this man. It would be magnanimous and do his personal reputation a world of good — and it would be good for both countries.”

    This would not be a great thing. This would merely be the humane thing to do. If we’ve gone so far downhill that a basic respect for human rights is considered to be “great” and the encouragement of a pardon by the colonizing power–then that makes me incredibly…well, sad. Bush would simply surprise us by displaying some a slight measure of human compassion if he were to do this. I believe he won’t, but if he did, there’d be no cookie. And no excuse for everything else he’s done.

    Also, I find it very telling that he wants to respect Iraqi sovereignty with *this* issue in particular. Given, well, his foreign policy commitments.

  4. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    “But to do so might mean to acknowledge that Iraq as it stands isn’t quite the democratic utopia Bush was saying it is.”

    Exactly, that’s why I think he won’t do it.

    Also, I mean… American soldiers have beaten prisoners for far less. The head of state who oversaw our own abuses doesn’t have any moral high ground to stand in with this kind of thing. That said, he should still call for a pardon.

  5. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    oops, I meant “Bush’s reaction” in 3.

  6. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    And this sentence should have read like this:

    If we’ve gone so far downhill that a basic respect for human rights is considered to be “great” and the encouragement of a pardon by the colonizing power to somehow be laudable–then that makes me incredibly…well, sad.

  7. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    And just a thought… Since Bush has not exactly proven himself to be particularly sympathetic to the Voices of the People, one might actually get further by writing to Obama headquarters to request a public call for the charges to be dropped. Or both.

  8. isabel
    December 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Hi Jill, in a recent post you cited Iraq Body Count’s statistic that 100,000 Iraqi’s have been killed as a result of the war. Just so you know, IBC relied on a false methodology in order to purposely and dishonestly underestimate the number of casualties in Iraq. The John Hopkins studies are more accurate and much more damning, which is why they’re rarely cited in the mainstream media.

  9. December 16, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    one might actually get further by writing to Obama headquarters to request a public call for the charges to be dropped. Or both.

    Good idea.

  10. December 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    I find it very telling that he wants to respect Iraqi sovereignty with *this* issue in particular. Given, well, his foreign policy commitments.

    Word. I thought the same thing. Also, that torture is okay in a democracy.

  11. PG
    December 16, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    This isn’t entirely new. Bush also has “respected sovereignty” in multiple cases in Afghanistan where people were sentenced for heresy, blasphemy and apostasy — i.e., acts that wouldn’t even be crimes in many countries.

  12. Angela
    December 16, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    PG, you forget, Afghanistan is still an Islamic country. I do remember Hamid Karzi saying that some form of Sharia will be implemented when he took office. Like it or not, the West does not and cannot dictate to the ME on what and which laws they should be govern by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Islamic countries, just trying to get you to understand that they have a pov too and we have to respect that.

    One more note – heresy, blasphemy and apostasy will also get you into trouble in modern day Israel if you’re a Hasidic(sp?) Jew.

  13. Angela
    December 16, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Lauren, I seriously doubt Iraq will become or adopt any forms of “democracy”. They’ve never started out as a democratic nation, nor will they ever be.

  14. Aaron
    December 16, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Like it or not, the West does not and cannot dictate to the ME on what and which laws they should be govern by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Islamic countries, just trying to get you to understand that they have a pov too and we have to respect that.

    Do we now? I’m not saying we should impose, you know, basic human rights on other countries, but I do think it’s reasonable for the American government to pressure countries with which it’s involved to respect them,* and that’s all I think PG was suggesting. I think he mentioned Afghanistan just because we have a presence there, so your reference to how Israel can be regressive wasn’t quite relevant, IMO. But I could be wrong, and am kind of ignorant about the extent to which we’re involved with Afghanistan’s (or Iraq’s…) domestic affairs, so, whatever.

    *disclaimer about how invading another country without provocation and usurping its sovereignty not being very respectful of human rights, naturally

  15. Cactus Wren
    December 16, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    I am spreading far and wide this suggestion, from a comment thread at Pharyngula:

    Donate a pair of shoes to the local charity of your choice. Send Bush a postcard, stating, “A pair of shoes has been donated to the needy in your name. This is a farewell kiss from the American people, you dog.”

  16. December 16, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Obama and Bush, just wrote to both in praise of clemency.

  17. Ashley
    December 16, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Word to you, Cactus Wren!

  18. Bagelsan
    December 16, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    He could do a great thing right now by making a public appeal to the Iraqis to pardon this man. It would be magnanimous and do his personal reputation a world of good — and it would be good for both countries.

    Wow, I’ll bet *all* war criminals/mass murderers wish they could redeem their image by pardoning the people who justly accuse them of crimes! “Oh, you just got beaten and imprisoned for telling the world I’m a piece of shit who’s caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people? No sweat, dude, I totally forgive you! We kan haz b frends now?”

  19. BStu
    December 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Forget his reputation. He would help the United States’ standing in the Middle East if he called on the show flinger to be pardoned or whatever the equivalent is in Iraq. I actually wouldn’t object to the reporting being prosecuted, except that Iraq has a crazy “protect George W. Bush” law that will regard this stunt in the same light as an attempted murder. Yes, it was an attempted assault and I’m not moved to disregard an attempted assault because I don’t like the victim. Still, it was a remarkably silly and non-threatening effort and doesn’t warrant the years of jail time the reporter is looking. As a simple matter of justice, the shoe flinger deserves clemency.

  20. Bagelsan
    December 16, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    I actually thought Bush handled this thing quite well.

    I’m sorry, but *how* can you agree with this? Everytime I read it, it makes me sick. I didn’t realize it was now gracious to laugh as someone you personally have badly hurt is dragged away to be beaten for having the temerity to stand up against you.

  21. piny
    December 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Not even dragged away! The beating part happened more or less in front of Bush.

    I also agree that Bush, like everyone else, has the right to not be physically hurt, but can we please stop with the “dislike” meme that seems to already be cropping up? It’s not accurate.

  22. Kai
    December 16, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I’m with Kristin, Bagelsan, and some others.

    Obviously if Bush were to work behind the scenes to secure clemency for Muntader al-Zaidi, it would be uncharacteristically reasonable; but “great”? I dunno about all that.

    I also fail to see how it’s a good thing that he “doesn’t take it too seriously”. I guess I’m out of step with the breezy distance maintained by many US Americans with mass tragedy. That shit still hurts me in a “serious” way.

  23. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Yeah, what Kai and Begalsan said.

  24. December 16, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    I’m with you guys — I think I worded things poorly. I’ll update tomorrow or the next day once I’ve had some rest.

  25. December 16, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I hate Bush just as much as everyone else on here and was rather entertained by the shoe incident. However, I am questioning what Feministe as a blog considers important. Where are your articles about Obama’s male-dominated cabinet. Men outnumber women 4:1 thus far. In case you aren’t aware of that, that is a LOWER percentage of women in the Obama cabinet than in the George W. Bush cabinet. Yes, the evil one had more gender equity than the sexist “change-maker” we all just elected into office. I challenge Feministe to step up. If you aren’t faux feminists, then I expect to see you put some heat on Obama for being blatantly sexist in his cabinet picks.

    Token women does not equal gender equity!

  26. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Unapologetic Feminist: Um… You don’t think human rights violations are relevant to women?

  27. Kristin
    December 16, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Unapologetic Feminist: Um… You don’t think human rights violations are relevant to women? Also, um, it’s kind of infuriating to lecture people about what you think they should be blogging about. I mean… You appear to have your own blog, where you are free to construct whatever you think counts as “feminist.” Have fun with that.

  28. December 17, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I found this post from Margaret and Helen to be pretty on the nose to how I feel about this.

    http://margaretandhelen.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/if-the-shoe-fits/

  29. Dogtanian
    December 17, 2008 at 11:22 am

    “Lauren, I seriously doubt Iraq will become or adopt any forms of “democracy”. They’ve never started out as a democratic nation, nor will they ever be.”

    …And with what crystal ball can you see this? But of course you’re speaking from a place of love and compassion for the Iraqi people, so you aren’t being at all racist.

  30. Kristin
    December 17, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Well, I’ll look forward to reading the revised post, Lauren.

  31. ACG
    December 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Unapologetic Feminist – That’s a great idea. You should totally blog about that.

    This is going to come out in precisely the way I don’t intend it, but I can’t think of any other way to phrase it – I’m kind of split on the shoe-throwing thing.

    On the one hand, he did, in fact, assault the president. It may have been a pretty weeny one, as assaults go, but he did do it; free speech is one thing, but purposely trying to harm someone doesn’t help your cause, even if the intended victim is the utter cockwhistle currently running our country. And I’m sure that Muntader al-Zaidi knew before he did it that he would be facing some sort of rightful punishment when he was done.

    On the other hand, assault and battery carry fairly reasonable sentences with them – some small amount of jail time. Probation. Damages to the victim. Maybe a fine. Torture sure as hell ain’t one of ’em, even if the individual assaulted happens to be the president of a foreign country. And if George Bush wants to do the decent thing – not even a great thing, an act of basic decency that is within his power to do – he’ll plead for clemency for al-Zaidi in the name of human decency and a fair and democratic Iraq.

  32. Angiportus
    December 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Bush actually mustered up enough brain cells to make puns?? I can hardly believe it. Of course I don’t always manage to keep instep with the news, but I support everyone’s efforts to counter human rights abuse, and hope against hope that the new administration will cobble up some better solutions.

  33. Silke
    December 17, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    The days are dwindling and his legacy of havoc wreaking and self-delusion is growing. When will this end? When will we know what the outcome of his sad excuse for a presidency will be? Unfortunately, we will reap what he sowed long into the future. Obama will have the near insurmountable task of repairing what was ruined.

    Bush has to practice ducking, since that is what he will do for his presidential retirement — ducking accusations of his lousy presidency. At least he now knows he’s physically ready for it.

Comments are closed.