The name: Muntadhar al-Zeidi -- a new hero to many in the Muslim world.
President Bush -- in a surprise, end-of-term visit to Iraq -- held a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Zeidi, an Iraqi "reporter," shouted, "This is your farewell kiss, you dog," and threw a shoe at Bush. The reporter quickly threw a second. The shoes missed their target only because an agile President Bush managed to duck. And with his typical self-deprecating humor, he later joked, "It was a size 10."
"(Al-Zeidi's) a rather nervous type," al-Zeidi's brother later said, "and above all hates violence and the bombing." Al-Zeidi's employer, Iraqi-owned but Egypt-based Al-Baghdadia television, refused to apologize for its reporter's behavior, calling him a "proud Arab and an open-minded man."
The violence-hating al-Zeidi, according to reports, displays a picture of the "revolutionary" Che Guevara on his wall. Cuban emigre Humberto Fontova, author of "Exposing the Real Che Guevara," credits Guevara with 14,000 executions. Witnesses say this icon for many radicals personally murdered hundreds -- including children and pregnant women. But we digress.
Many Iraqi reporters in the room apologized to the President. One journalist observed, "It was a reporter (emphasis added) who yanked (al-Zeidi) to the ground before Iraqi or American guards could reach him."
Meanwhile, stateside, many in the Bush-hating news media seemed almost giddy -- no doubt considering the shoe throwing a vindication of their own hostility to the war.
Chris Cuomo of ABC's "Good Morning America" said: "Remember when the statue of Saddam Hussein was brought down? When it happened, all the people there started throwing shoes at it. Why? Disrespect. It is a high form of insult."
A CBS "Early Show" reporter said: "Mr. Bush's message of progress was eclipsed in Baghdad by a sign of his unpopularity. The symbolism wouldn't have been lost on Iraqis, for whom shoes can be used to show extreme contempt, as with the footwear beaten against the statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by Marines five years ago."
The Los Angeles Times wrote: "In the few seconds it took Iraqi journalist (Muntadhar al-Zeidi) to wing a pair of shoes at President Bush, the Middle East got its own version of Joe the Plumber. Just as Joe Wurzelbacher's gripes to Barack Obama catapulted him to fame, (al-Zeidi's) burst of rage toward Bush has made him a household name across the Middle East."
"Joe the Plumber"?
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