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Chris Ford: A Great Farewell Gift For Bush: Shoes

Chris Ford
Chris Ford

US President George W. Bush could not have received a more fitting farewell from an Iraqi journalist who spoke so eloquently on behalf of his fellow countrymen and women - a pair of shoes aimed at the dimmest mind in global politics.

The actions of television journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi have been applauded by many Iraqis who have endured over five years of occupation and all the instability it has wrought to a country that had already suffered so much in the Saddam Hussein years. His Olympian feat is a fitting rebuke to Bush whose five years of incompetency, aggression and blunder has left the US and the world both dazed and angered.

From his virtual appointment to the presidency (courtesy of his father George HW Bush's and Ronald Reagan's appointees) by the Supreme Court after the tightly contested 2000 election to this year, Bush has ridden a wild roller coaster ride in popularity terms. His presidency began haphazardly with rejected nominations, a stalled economy and verbal gaffes that served to reinforce his pre-election image as a bumbling oaf who had merely gained the Republican nomination thanks to Daddy's backing.

Then came 9/11, the moment that saw Bush gain record popularity as the US reeled from the stunning attacks on New York and Washington by Al Qaeda. This gave Bush and his neo-con buddies including Donald Rumsfeld (then defence secretary), Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, and Vice President Dick Cheney the green light to implement their plan to reinforce American global hegemony through the unilateral use of military force without resort to international organisations like the UN. These plans, formulated by the Project for the New American Century of which Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz were prominent members, included their desire to attack Iraq and take out Saddam Hussein and assert greater influence over the South Asian region of which Afghanistan is a part.

The US attacks on both Iraq and Afghanistan have proven to be expensive affairs not only in human lives and destoryed nations but in financial terms as well with the US Government Treasury being put under immense strain to pay for two simultaneous wars. This has probably contributed, in a significant way, to the growing government deficit and debt in the US, which has been the result of increased defence spending and lower taxes on the wealthy. This deficit is proving to be a drag on the US economy as it enters its worst downturn in nearly 70 years.

So after eight years of two unresolved wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a crumbling economy and attempts to privatise social security and no further progress on providing health care to the millions of Americans who don't have coverage, Bush is leaving office with the worst legacy and popularity ratings of any president since Herbert Hoover who presided over the start of the last great economic crisis, the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Therefore, the reality is that Munthadar's actions are not only expressive of how the majority of people in Iraq feel, but also how many people throughout the globe and in the US feel about Bush in these final days of his presidency. What person hasn't yelled at the television at times (like me) when Bush has said something straight out dumb? What person hasn't thrown the contents of their evening dinner (or other projectiles) at the television as well when Bush or his cronies have made an appearance?

I wouldn't be surprised if the shoe throwing incident was one of the lasting impressions that most people are left with after Bush is gone. His unpopularity is further epitomised by the fact that nearly three million people are expected to turn up for the inauguration of Barack Obama next month and this is expected to be in contrast to the 500,000 or so people who came to see George W's second inaugural four years ago. If anything, more people are keen to see the back of him than there were to see him coming into office in the first place. 

If the world has given it's final Christmas gift to Bush, it's been a pair of size ten shoes - and not necessarily for wearing either.

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