‘One of the most weird moments of my presidency’ — Bush
If you thought that shoe-throwing episode in Baghdad was odd, you’re not alone — President George W. Bush thought so too.
“It has got to be one of the most weird moments of my presidency,” he told CNN in an interview Tuesday. “Here I am getting ready to answer questions from a free press in a democratic Iraq and a guy stands up and throws a shoe.”
What was going through his mind? Not much it seems.
“I didn’t have much time to reflect on anything. I was ducking and dodging,” Bush said.
Throwing shoes at someone is considered a supreme insult in Iraq, a shoe being considered dirty. People whacked Saddam Hussein’s statue in Baghdad with shoes after it was toppled during the U.S. invasion.
Bush says he doesn’t harbor any anger toward the Iraqi TV journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi for attacking him. Al-Zaidi has been cheered by some in the Arab world for his action, but he faces potential criminal charges in Baghdad.
“I’m not even sure what his status is,” Bush said. “They shouldn’t overreact.”
Bush told CNN the most important decision he made during his presidency was “sending troops into harm’s way,” and not once but twice — in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The reason it’s the most important is because it’s the most consequential,” he said
“It is a decision that no president should ever take lightly and every president should take a lot of time thinking about it because lives will be lost,” Bush added.
Asked if he ever revisited the decision, Bush said he sometimes thought about it but usually “with a concern about whether or not we would succeed.”
“In Iraq, I was deeply concerned about whether or not we would succeed,” he said, adding that was especially true in 2006. “A lot of people in Washington were saying, let’s get out now. And I obviously chose not to do that. But, that was a very difficult period.”
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Photo credit: Reuters/Reuters TV (Bush ducks a shoe during a news conference in Baghdad Dec. 14)