COMMENTS: The Shoes Heard Round the World

So now we come to the fun story of the day. "This is your farewell kiss, you dog," was the insult screamed by TV journalist Muntathar al-Zaidi, as he took off his size ten shoes and hurled them at President George Bush during a Green Zone press conference. Colorfully, NBC's Richard Engel asked how the Secret Service gave the reporter the time to "reload and launch the other shoe." Bush ducked and the shoes missed. Engel knew al-Zaidi as a fellow reporter in Baghdad. He has a reputation "for reporting on civilian casualties. He had been kidnapped by gunmen and detained by US troops. Colleagues say he had grown to hate American soldiers."

ABC's Martha Raddatz, who traveled with Bush to Iraq and Afghanistan, asked the President about his reaction. "I do not know what his beef is," he shrugged. Raddatz found Bush "testy" about the fact that the flying shoes were "dominating the coverage" of his farewell overseas trip as Commander in Chief. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was said to be "absolutely furious," according to NBC's Engel, demanding a seven-year prison sentence for al-Zaidi.

Both CBS' Elizabeth Palmer and ABC's Jim Sciutto wated the flying shoes go viral from their base in London. "Huge news," observed Palmer, quoting online shoe humor: "al-Zaidi should do jail time," a blogger quipped, "because he missed." Sciutto reported a $10m bid for the shoes from a Saudi bidder. "In news coverage, on new fan Websites, in Arabic text messages, the overwhelming sentiment is giddy satisfaction." Shoes are "the new symbol for anti-Americanism in the Arab World."

But why shoes? "There is no bigger insult than hitting someone with a shoe," CBS' Palmer explained," a dirty object worn on the lowest part of the body"…"as low as dirt"--ABC's Sciutto…"a symbol of filth"--NBC's Engel.


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