The lame duck can duck

Like all of you, I’ve watched the video of the shoe throwing incident several times. I have to say that I am totally impressed with the reflexes demonstrated by President Bush as he ducked twice to avoid the shoes flying not more than five inches over his head. The accuracy of the Iraqi journalist who pitched the shoes makes him a likely candidate to be recruited by the Texas Rangers. Can you imagine what a hurler he’d be throwing a ball instead of a shoe, and what an embarrassment to George Bush he’d be if he was a star on the team he used to own?

The lame duck can duck.*

I was not impressed with the Secret Service. Where were they? The man stooped down to remove his shoes.. twice… suspicious behavior to say the least. And after he went 0 for 2 he just stood there. He could have had a third shoe stuck in his pants.

I know nothing about the intricacies of Iraqi shoe throwing technique, but certainly in this case our fast-shoe pitcher misjudged the strike zone by not anticipating the lightening fast double ducking by our nimble president.

If he’d aimed for the chest he would have hit him squarely in the noggin. My guess is the flying shoes probably zoomed across the room at between 20 and 30 mph.


A size 10 brogan could certainly do some damage.

The history and meaning of Arab shoe throwing is described on Wikipedia where the Bush incident is already memorialized:

In the Arab world, shoe flinging is a gesture of extreme disrespect. A notable occurrence of this gesture happened in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. When U.S. forces pulled down a giant statue of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, many Iraqi detractors of Hussein threw their shoes at the fallen statue.

This may be an ancient gesture from the Middle East; Psalms 60:8, speaking of some of the traditional enemies of Judah, says that “Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe….”

The shoe represents the lowest part of the body (the foot) and displaying or throwing a shoe at someone or something in Arab cultures denotes that the person or thing is “beneath them.” Showing the bottom of one’s feet or shoes (for example, putting one’s feet up on a table or desk) in Arab cultures is considered an extreme insult. Examples include Iraqi citizens smacking torn-down posters of Saddam Hussein with their shoes, and the depiction of President of the United States George H. W. Bush on a tile mosaic of the floor of the Al-Rashid Hotel’s lobby, forcing all visitors entering the hotel to walk on Bush’s face to enter the hotel.

During President George W. Bush’s surprise visit to Iraq in December 2008, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamel al-Maliki. President Bush later told reporters that he did not feel the incident was a “big deal” and that it “did not represent the Iraqi media as a whole.” Reference

And we don’t even know what the journalist deliberately stepped in before the news conference.


* IMages from Wikipedia Commons.

Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at . He also publishes a website about his hometown of Middleboro, Massachusetts (aka Middleborough) called Middleboro Matters. Archive: of previous columns.

Read “additional for rules and guidelines for commenting on this column.


  1. Charlie Couser


    Great minds think alike! I wrote my comments about pitching for the Texas Rangers in “Cheney defends Gitmo prison, torture…” before I read your article! How interesting is that?

    Keep up the great work!

    Charlie Couser

  2. Ladywolf55

    As I said in another post on this site: Let’s send that Iraqi shoe-thrower some shoes in appreciation. Maybe next time he won’t miss. The idiot-in-chief doesn’t even have the brains to know when he’s been deeply insulted, and has no empathy for the people (both in the USA and Iraq) he’s decimated. I hope there WAS dung on the shoes. Hopefully it splattered. I swear I’d spit at the idiot’s feet if I ran into him.

  3. Flapsaddle

    It’ll be an endless source of low humor.

    Was the this reporter the sole hit-man, or were there others shoe-horned into the press box?

    Should the reporter have stuck to his last at Bush’s last Iraqi press conference?

    Should his SS detail be given the boot for their slow response?

    Was the reporter really being a heel to act that way? Couldn’t he have quietly let out a giant sneaker?

    Shouldn’t they have shoed-away the press after the incident?

    If the shoe fits, dodge it!

    Doubtlessly the conspiracy buffs will rush to report that Frame 234 of the Zapbush video shows the President’s brain splattered by the second shoe…which then magically ends up stuck in the Iraqi PM’s left ear…while a pristine shoe was recovered from behind the grassy podium…and that experts have demonstrated that it is impossible for one thrower to make two well-aimed throws with a size 10 Mannlicher-Gucci in the time claimed.

    Etc., etc., ad nauseam.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  4. woody188

    The President was lucky it wasn’t a weapon. It could be a precursor to an actual attack to judge how the Secret Service would react. Does this make me a conspiracy buff or is it a practical analysis based on caution and safety?

    It will probably be one of the last times Bush speaks outside of military bases.

    Bush came into office in a hail of bottles, tomatoes, and eggs. Seems he’ll leave in a hail of shoes. Is that an upgrade?

  5. Flapsaddle

    Damn sloppy response on the part of the Secret Service detail, to say the least!

    I certainly hope Mr. Obama’s SS detail is paying more attention.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  6. Cashel Boylo

    Normal nimble
    Clearly there was no pre-meditation. A spontaneous act of fury.
    Watch Bush’s eyes. He sees the raised shoe and ducks. Thrower makes same mistake second time, same result.
    Just normal nimble.
    Cashel Boylo

  7. woody188

    If you think about it, it’s more proof Bush’s macho image is a media lie. He ducked instead of using an arm to catch or deflect the shoe. This means his flight response is stronger than his fight response, making him more likely to run from a fight like a coward. Sure it’s a stretch. :)

  8. Wayne K Dolik

    If you look at the video of the second shoe, it appeared to score a direct hit on the American Flag. Just a thought guys.
    Maybe Bush shouldn’t have ducked!

  9. Hal Brown

    Bush protect the flag and what it should stand for?

    It also seemed that the Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki reacted by trying to protect Bush by batting the second shoe away.

  10. Karl

    Jay Leno was joking last night that if the Iraqi journalist who threw the shoe is released from jail, MSNBC will have a job waiting for him.

  11. jverner

    If Bush were macho – the macho cowboy he pretends to be – he’d have caught a shoe and thrown it back!

  12. Karl

    If Bush knew anything about Arab cultures, he’d have done a counter insult by laughing and telling the reporter “you throw like a girl.”