As the world knows now, a particularly juvenile Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at George Bush in Baghdad Sunday. Bush characteristically made light of the situation. If there’s one thing many can agree on about the president, it’s that he doesn’t take insults too personally, at least in public. Good thing too, considering all the abuse that has been heaped on him in recent years. I can’t imagine I would have behaved the same way. With my temper, I would probably have picked up the shoe and gone after the dopey journo myself.
Well, maybe I wouldn’t have. The clod probably did Bush a favor, making the president look good. And Bush could use it, because I can’t think of a public figure in my lifetime who has been so reviled except Nixon. And Bush never did anything provably wrong. He didn’t cover up an illegal break-in, try to sell a Senate seat or even have oral sex with an intern in the White House (and then claim it wasn’t sex). He just did his job to the best of his ability.
Oh, yes, I forgot, the WMDs. “Bush lied and people died.” Or did he? If he did, then so did those many dozens of Congress people and foreign leaders working off the same information – not to mention that no one has ever proven those WMDs weren‘t there. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, as the famous “argument from ignorance” goes.
But more importantly and more apposite to today’s event was that other, oft forgotten, reason Bush went to war in Iraq – that the only way to bring true peace to the Middle East would be through democracy. He wanted to spread the democratic system preemptively. A lot of people have sneered at that idea lately, but while they were sneering Iraq has inched forward toward a democracy. It’s even turning into a (somewhat) decent place to live. That buffoon-like shoe chucker – his name is Muntazer al-Zaidi from Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo – proved it. No matter what happens to al-Zaidi now (and it won’t be much if anything), it will be nothing like what would have happened to him if he had hurled a shoe at the president during the previous Iraqi administration of Saddam Hussein. As we all know, in that case, he would either have had his tongue and scrotum cut out or both, if he would have survived at all.
And that’s the point – something good has happened. Something very good.
What isn’t so clear, yet, is how history will treat George Bush. I have a suspicion it’s going to be better then a lot of people now suspect – or are willing to admit.