I, along with many others, watched on TV the spectacle in Baghdad where Iraqi journalist Muntathar Al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at President Bush during a news conference with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Some find this comical, others find it obnoxious and rude, but I found it to be a perfect example of the freedom and the courage that the Iraqi people have, as they take control of their country and stand up against those who want to destroy it. If Al-Zaid had done this to Saddam Hussein, it can be said with almost absolute certainty that the Iraqi journalist would be bound and gagged in a Republican Guard Compound. Across from him, Uday and Qusay would be blazing up a box of cigars as their Fedyeen minions chopped off his feet and served them on a silver platter to his grief-stricken family. Instead, Zaid had the chance to make a political statement to the world and live to tell about it.
I have given up all hopes that President Bush is going to leave office with a better public image than he’s had these last five years. I think this is very unfortunate, but at the same time, I will never back down from believing he has done the right thing, even though it has cost him the media-touted “approval rating” that far too many of the President’s critics have used against him.
Bush stood against the misguided message an American population swayed by poor media coverage conveyed to him after the 2006 midterm election, when “Bush lied, people died, so get-the-hell-out-of-Iraq” fervor was on a rampage across the world. He wouldn’t give up, he was not going to walk away from his mission to bring freedom to Iraq and forever liberate it from the most horrendous forms of human life. Even as his approval rating was crushed, he sent more troops to Iraq to work directly with the besieged people of Iraq, and they have succeeded. Barack Obama may be the president now, and the genocide-advocating Democratic Congress may have followed suit—but their message failed. The “new direction” in Iraq they pushed for went down in flames as the lions of the Iraqi Army and the Awakening councils drove the insurgency all the way back to the sands of Saudi Arabia and their sanctuaries in Iran. Harry Reid was left looking like an utter buffoon as he desperately tried to prolong the struggle, accusing General Petraeus of being in the tank for the Bush Administration while citing the Pope, who has never set foot in Iraq, as a legitimate source that nothing good was happening in the Land of the Two Rivers. I almost want to say its too bad no one was there to throw a shoe at him back then, but such behavior should be rightfully condemned, no matter how much they might deserve it.
Bush has courage, unlike many other politicians. The Democrats were able to win the election, but this time, they avoided the so-called "antiwar" movement like an infectious disease, choosing to verbally assault the President on the economy instead, a crisis which they are just as guilty for as he is.
Sometimes, those who want to do the right thing don’t receive the response they deserve. Just think of Bob Marley, who tried to bring his message of peace and hope to the people of war-ravaged Jamaica only to be shot for it. Last year, Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan to use democracy as the greatest weapon against terrorism and perverted religious fundamentalism. Even before she landed, the Taliban already had suicide bombers waiting to welcome her in the crowds. President Bush had a very insignificant encounter, in the grander scheme of things.
Bush has given everything he has to do the right thing. He corrected the terrible mistake his father made in 1991 when the Gulf War was abruptly ended and the Iraqi people, who revolted against Saddam in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, were left to die in a scorched-earth holocaust when the Republican Guard came down on Karbala and literally burned it to the ground. Clinton added insult to injury, slapping Iraq with sanctions, which Saddam used to further his campaign of genocide against his own people.
Ten years from now, when Iraq is being led by a well-educated and determined generation shining and bustling with life, the history books may judge Bush differently. I hope so.