Rachel Maddow dove into the Bush shoe-dodging episode last night, and walked us through the five stages of grief--it's in the first couple of minutes of the video below.
Not to be too flip about this, but when I read about the story, and then saw the video, I jumped to the final stages Maddow described--acceptance and outrage. Okay, I'll admit there was a brief stopover at the humor stage--who throws a shoe? Honestly--except that I knew the depths of insult that action carried with it.
My immediate reaction was very much one of empathy. I put myself in the position of that Iraqi journalist. I imagined that my country had been invaded and occupied in the name of spreading some other form of government. I imagined that I had lost family or friends in the occupation, that my life had been made chaotic, that I lived in near constant fear for years, and that I suddenly found myself in a room with the architect of that destruction, who was taking a victory lap no less. Throw a shoe or two? That would be the least of it.
Now it's come out that Muntader al-Zaidi "had been planning some sort of protest against Mr. Bush for nearly a year," but I still find myself in full agreement with al-Zaidi's point-of-view. I'm not a believer in American exceptionalism, at least in the sense of "my country, right or wrong." I think that our nation has, in its founding documents, the potential to be an exceptional nation, a model for the rest of the world, but far too often we don't live up to the standards we claim to hold dear. When that's the case--when we talk smack about how great we are and then don't live up to it--we shouldn't be surprised when the rest of the world treats us with disdain.