Shoe-Throwing and President Bush's Legacy
George Bush and his legacy as president of the United States -- what do you think? Is it too early to tell since the war on terror will mark the legacy of his presidency?
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When Bush was sworn in eight years ago, who would have thought things would have turned out in this manner? Even folks in his own party have dismissed him, opposed his leadership and pleas, and he was widely ignored at his own party's convention. Now I know that 9/11 changed everything, but who would have thunk?
For those interested, I wrote two posts a year ago about George Bush: Best President and Worst President. He's done some good things, and I want to credit him -- as others have -- for his substantive work and commitment to issues of global poverty (particularly in Africa), but his legacy is going to be marked by the failed war in Iraq.
Yesterday, I was disheartened to read the news and see the video of an Iraqi journalist, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at President Bush at a news conference in Baghdad. Honestly, despite my not-so-positive reviews of President Bush's presidency, he's still the leader of my country, and I just don't enjoy the sight of someone hurling shoes at their president. Despite Bush's impressive reflexes, I hope he and President-elect Barack Obama will not ignore the significant meaning behind the incident and why, overnight, thousands are cheering Muntadhar as a hero. According to CNN,
Muntadhar al-Zaidi's feelings were influenced by watching the agony suffered by everyday Iraqis. Most of the reporter's stories focused on Iraqi widows, orphans, and children, said the brother.
Sometimes the 29-year-old journalist would cry. Moved by the tales he reported of poor families, he sometimes asked his colleagues to give money to them. On most nights, he returned to his home in central Baghdad after reporting from Sadr City, one of the country's most violent slums and the epicenter of several of the war's pitched battles.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi's reporting for Egypt-based independent television Al-Baghdadia was "against the occupation," his brother said. The journalist would occasionally sign off his stories "from occupied Baghdad."
The work of building trust in the larger world will be more difficult than any rebuilding project in Iraq.
But here's another perspective to convey that change is taking place. Let's be honest here: Those shoes never would have had the freedom to be thrown under Saddam Hussein's regime.
Eugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative nonprofit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also launching a grassroots humanitarian organization to fight global poverty. You can stalk him at his blog, eugenecho.wordpress.com.