Bush has been our President for 8 years, and he has made decisions in the post 911 era to protect us. We may not like what he did, but that was his mission and he took it seriously. But it pisses off so many people that this guy that has been our ‘decider’, to use his words. The fact that our ‘decider’ went to such extremes to protect us really rubs in the humiliation of 911. He stuck our noses in our dependence and vulnerability with the Wars in Asia and the Patriot Act. It is as if he thinks of us as naive teenagers so he has to be the ‘man’. So we knock him down to size. He is referred to as a pretender cowboy, a rich boy, or a frat boy. Humorous artistic depictions of him are often designed to make him look like a boy. Yet he doesn’t fight back when people ridicule him. He doesn’t get defensive. He doesn’t argue over the meaning of the word ‘is’. He is very parental in a way. Many people rebel against the blase manner in which he deals with our angst: “He LIED to us. He only cares about HIMSELF. He is an IDIOT.” He just laughs it off, literally. He’s in charge after all, and he feels like he has serious work to attend to.
Then you have Obama. He is easier to relate to. He has little experience but comes across much more confidently. He’s cooler. We’d like to hang out with him. He thinks the war in Iraq was an overreaction too. We all just need to chill out, right!? Chill, like Obama, when he voted against the war in Iraq. He really ‘got’ us, before we did. We were spazzing out about 911, and he was cool about it before we had the sense to be that cool.
When the Iraqi reporter threw those shoes, he was trying to humilate Bush, because he felt humiliated by Bush. I think many have that in common with this Iraqi reporter. He hated being so dependent on Bush. Bush set him free from an oppressive regime, allowed him free speech, has come close to defeating the insurgency, and plans are underway to leave Iraq. Bush’s final humiliation for this man was that he has succeeded in saving him without his consent. The reporter wants to decide how and when and who will be involved in his affairs including liberation. He wanted this to happen without an unchosen sacrifice, and I understand that like many, this reporter lost family members in this war. Bush has not allowed this man to have total freedom, yet. So the reporter threw the shoes at him. Americans laugh, if they are liberal – because it allows them to continue to think of Bush as a boyish and naive fool. Conservatives are enraged at the humiliation and ingratitude of it. They see Bush’s glib reaction as weak. Arabs marching in the street see him as some kind of hero. I see it as the ultimate adolescent act, and I don’t mean that pejoratively at all. I believe it is the end phase of adolescence for him and others like him. He wants to be INDEPENDENT, like all adolescents want to be as they move into adulthood. He didn’t blow himself up or join an insurgency, which would require him to become dependent on an ideology. He rejected another dependency. Instead, he told Bush with those shoes that he better not expect anything but rejection for not letting him be on his own, because HE is the BOSS of HIMSELF. And he is. Good for him. Awkward, but a start.
If we really want to completely humiliate this Iraqi reporter, we ought to just urge the Iraqi authorities to let him go, like a minor offender in the US who we think just needs some therapy. But then we’d be humiliating the Iraqi government, because they need to respect themselves and their people enough to hold them accountable for their actions.
It was certainly understandable for him to be angry enough to act up. He’s been through a lot, to say the least. But he’s a man, let’s treat him and others like him as such.
Maybe I am giving Bush too much credit, but the lighthearted way in which he took this incident suggests that he ‘gets’ that about the motives behind this incident. He, after all, had a prolonged adolescence himself abusing alcohol and cocaine until his wife insisted that he grow up. He was pretty much a failure until he was born again and turned it around. I think he knows humiliation.
The reporter knows humiliation.
Americans know humiliation – whether they primarily blame Bush or the terrorists for it – seems to be a matter of political ideology.
But there is a new sheriff coming to town…a new decider.
Who didn’t think it was cool when Obama was elected? I did, and I voted for McCain. The fact that we could elect a Black President is a very cool thing.
Coolness may have helped him get into office, and felt soothing to us somehow in the pain of our humiliation, but when he becomes ‘the man’, the decider, cool may not seem cool as it did in 2008.
I’d like him to just be a brilliant leader who proves me dead wrong.
That would be really cool.