In final Iraq visit, Bush ducks a pair of shoes
Andrew McLemore
Published: Sunday December 14, 2008

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In his surprise final visit to Iraq this weekend, President Bush got unusual reminders of his lack of popularity in some quarters.

They were about a size 10.

An Iraqi journalist throw his shoes at Bush during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Bush ducked both throws and neither leader was hit.

Yelling "This is the end!" and calling Bush a "dog" in Arabic, the man was later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

Bush smiled uncomfortably and Maliki looked strained.

"It doesn't bother me," Bush said, trying to calm down flustered reporters that quickly apologized for the actions of their colleague. "I didn't feel the least threatened by it."

"So what if the guy threw his shoe at me?" Bush told a reporter on Sunday. "Let me talk about the guy throwing his shoe. It's one way to gain attention. It's like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It's like driving down the street and having people not gesturing with all five fingers...These journalists here were very apologetic. They...said this doesn't represent the Iraqi people, but that's what happens in free societies where people try to draw attention to themselves."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suffered a black eye from a microphone that hit her in the ensuing chaos.

The shoe-thrower was wrestled to the ground and taken away. In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect. According to colleagues, al-Zaidi had survived a kidnapping by Shiite militiamen last year.

After U.S. troops pulled down a statue of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi bystanders tossed shoes at it, according to news reports at the time.

During his visit to Iraq, Bush called the Iraq war hard but necessary for the protection of the United States and the freedom of the Iraqi people, adding that the two nations are on "solid footing."

"The war is not over," he said.

This video is from MSNBC, broadcast Dec. 14, 2008.

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