Booting Them Out

At the rate she is going, Mrs. Arroyo will have more than a pair of shoes thrown at her when she is finally booted out of Malacanang.

Streetwise/ Business World
Posted by Bulatlat

The year ends with two of the most hated political figures in recent history, US President George W. Bush, and his dwarfed, local version, Gloria M. Arroyo, getting their symbolic comeuppance. Thanks to an intrepid Iraqi journalist, the lame duck Mr. Bush got the quintessential Arabian contemptuous send-off – having a pair of shoes hurled at him – that was as well a poignant reminder of his crimes against humanity in ordering the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

For her part, Mrs. Arroyo’s well-deserved kick-in-the-behind took the form of the December 12 anti-Charter change/anti-Gloria rally in Makati’s business district.

In truth, one’s Christmas wish for Bush might have been an ending like that of the villain in the novel Shogun by James Clavell, who gets buried in the ground up to his neck and anyone who cares to spit, piss, kick dirt into his face or hit him with a stick (no lethal blows, please, we want him to last for all those in the overlong queue) can do so to his/her satisfaction.

But the poetic justice rendered by the young Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zeidi, to this indescribably abhorrent US President is still vastly superior on several counts.

First, it’s near perfect execution. As Ms. Susan Roces would say, “Not once, but twice” did al-Zeidi successfully fire the leather missiles at Bush’s head. No matter that he didn’t actually hit Bush, the low velocity of his ammunition being a natural disadvantage. Yet the unexpected form of his assault weapon was enough to confound Bush and al-Maliki’s entire security horde enough to give the young man the precious seconds to carry out his heroic deed. The timing too could not have been more perfect; i.e. during an international, multimedia-covered press conference that has captured the image of Bush’s ignominious exit for posterity and for internet –users’ on-demand replay.

Second, the political message rang loud and clear. No sense in paraphrasing it. We must quote al-Zeidi no less. “This is a farewell kiss, you dog!” shouts our champion in Arabic, with the first throw, thus capsulizing all the unbridled scorn and hatred of the Iraqis, other Arabians and people the world over for Mr. Bush. Al-Zeidi follows this with another shoe and the unforgettable denunciation, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” (Notice how that covers not just the estimated million Iraqis killed but even the thousands of American soldiers who died, cannon fodder once more for the imperial wars of the US ruling elite.)

Third, the shoe attack cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a “terrorist” act. The opportunity to heap political onus on this highly innovative form of protest, one that would commonly arise at the sight of the carnage and destruction wrought by, say, a suicide bomber, just isn’t there. Could al-Zeidi have been inspired by Osama bin Laden? Who knows and who cares? His message just can’t be clouded or be overtaken by the “terrorism” bogey.

No wonder that Mr. Bush could only react lamely that al-Zaidi was merely “trying to draw attention to himself” and that “…one guy throwing shoes (cannot) represent a broad movement in Iraq.” Later, when he had time to compose a more “presidential” reaction, Mr. Bush tried to downplay the significance of persistently low popularity ratings in light of the US’ worst recession since the 30’s and America’s new quagmire in Iraq, by saying “I didn’t compromise my soul to be a popular guy.”

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