Throwing Shoes at the President

Grawg.

I can’t help it. I feel a little sorry for the President. I know he doesn’t deserve it, after being a puppet of corporate interests for 8 years, and messing shit up horribly for the next generation, but I’m moronically soft-hearted toward an underdog, and this guy is such an object of ridicule now, I feel sorta bad.

Nonetheless, I watched the video of him getting shoes thrown at his head with much glee, over and over. If you can say nothing else for Senor Bush, it must be admitted that his reflexes aren’t too shabby for a washed out old monkey.

It appeals to my sense of the ridiculous that a journalist lobbed his shoes at the president’s head, during his ultra-grave, super-secret mission to Iraq (a last ditch effort to look like he’s actually done something from the oval office). I mean, haven’t we all kinda wanted to throw something at this guy from time to time? What I particularly enjoyed is that, though the S.S. jumped him and brought the Cairo journalist down, he managed to get both shoes launched off as projectiles before anyone interfered. And there was a pretty lengthy pause in between, too. Deep down, subconsciously, I think everyone at the proceeding was leaning toward seeing if the dude could nail Mr. B with the second loafer, since the first one sailed over. 

Not to say everyone gathered had hostile intentions toward the big buffoon we elected to office, twice; I’m just saying there may have been an entertainment factor in play. You know, the same sort of observational impulse that overtakes onlookers at a shooting gallery. Whatever the case, here’s what the fella said to our president as he launched the tootsie missiles at his bulbous target: 

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog!”

And here is President Bush’s carefully considered, concise response to questions about the incident.

“Uh, it is one way to gain attention. Uh, it’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers…”

(i can’t stop laughing at that last little gem)

Bush and the Middle East

A moment ago, Yahoo posted a news story relating that American born al-Qaeda spokesperson, Adam Gadahn, has released a video calling for attacks on President Bush when he visits the Middle East in three days time.

During the video, he spent the first few moments speaking in Arabic, urging muslims to meet the U.S. President with bombs. The rest of his speech was in English; extremist rhetoric and finger waggling, a call for Americans, particularly veterans of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraqi wars to repent, reflect and join Islam. During the video, he ripped up his American passport to symbolize his rejection of American citizenship.

Here in the states, Adam Gadahn is widely regarded as imbalanced, a ‘nutter’, what have you. It’s clear that his smiling warnings and nonchalant summary of all our fronts in the ‘War Against Terror’ as failures does belie a certain crazy-man zeal. I don’t imagine Adam Gadahn is what you’d call a balanced person.

However,… he has been wanted by the FBI since 2004, on counts including treason. It is now 2008. He has been given a position of certain responsibility by al-Qaeda. I am sure having a representative who is a born citizen of this country speaking against us has the intended impact of a spit-in-your-eye insult. Unfortunately, the terrorist organization is not stupid, and it is unlikely that they would put a stupid man in the public eye to deliver their messages.

While I have never been a Bush fan, and never will be a Bush fan, I felt a certain… uneasiness when I read about this message. The story states that it is a pattern of al-Qaeda to warn, and to offer their targets an opportunity to convert before launching an attack.

That’s not strictly accurate.

It is dictated in the Qur’an itself that you give your enemies the opportunity to convert before you destroy them. Al-Qaeda has been criticized by many muslim communities for waging a jihad without adhering to the rules that govern holy wars in the Qur’an.

It is worth noting when a group like al-Qaeda seems to be making an effort to follow some of the edicts set down in the Qur’an, particularly when they have undergone criticism by long-time Sunni allies who have recently turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda has historically targeted Shiites in their insurgent attacks, but the breach with the Sunnis is a relatively new development. They have lost some of their support networks, which for a terrorist group equals political capital.

It would be easy to scoff at that, to discount any group that judges them on these behaviors when it seems so much more damning, the terror and horror they’ve inflicted on innocent citizens.

But a wave of remonstrance, even among fundamentalists toward a terror organization should be seen as a good thing. The organization’s responsiveness to that remonstrance in a statement such as Gadahn’s should be regarded seriously. They are trying to establish a positive political framework for future actions.

As an American, (and boy I’ve distanced myself from that term since it has taken on so many connotations I don’t care for in the last few years) but as an American, I am rather astonished at the gall of any person who would openly call for the assassination of the president of my country.

Whatever his flaws, George W. Bush is first and foremost a symbol. That is why the secret service protects him, that is why he would have no choice in a potentially threatening situation than to go into refuge or set aside the duties of his seat. It is the presidency, not the man, that these institutions are protecting.

And it is the President of the United States, not the man George Bush who was openly threatened by a terrorist organization today.

I must admit, I am worried about this trip to the Middle East. It is not a complete lie to say that American agendas have failed on Islamic fronts. But we have not exactly lost those battles either. A blow to the symbol of our figurehead would be a harrowing defeat of ideas and principle.

No one consulted me, naturally, but with the inherent instability of the region since the demise of Arafat, I rather question if this is an auspicious moment for our president to visit Palestinian territories in the Middle East.