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Lame ducking.

The Iraqi shoe-throwing incident revealed more than commendable presidential reflexes. It showed just how oblivious President Bush is to the culture of the countries he set out to renovate.

"I've seen a lot of weird things during my presidency, and this may rank up there as one of the weirdest," he told reporters on his flight home. But this wasn't quite equivalent to Helen Thomas tossing her purse in the White House briefing room. Across the Muslim world, the scene was laden with significance--the soles of the feet are the lowest, dirtiest part of a person; showing them is a grave insult. That is why the Iraqi government denounced Muntadar al-Zeidi's actions as "shameful." Only incurious George didn't know to blush.

As we go to press, al-Zeidi is still in custody, reportedly with a broken arm and ribs for recklessly test-driving that new freedom of the press. Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets calling for his release and hailing him as a hero. But don't expect President Bush to notice: he was unfazed by having to sneak into the country he apparently liberated.

He's ready for Iraq to be someone else's problem. In a recent interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz, Bush noted, "One of the major theaters against al-Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq." "But not until after the U.S. invaded," Raddatz countered. The telltale answer: "Yeah, that's right. So what?"

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Title Annotation:WORLD; George W. Bush, military
Publication:The American Conservative
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Jan 12, 2009
Words:235
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