George Bush redeemed himself in my low-bar-set eyes when he ducked from those shoes like it was a dodgeball game that Greek Week depended on. Then he laughed it off like a man hardwired for PR, or an overconfident jock (not sure which!). But let's roll with the PR-savvy narrative because it's an essential ingredient to my point: I was impressed by George Bush.
While Press Secretary Dana Perino was, according to an Iraqi reporter for the New York Times, off in a corner crying (we now know she was hit with a microphone in the kerfuffle and returned to the White House with a black eye), Bush was spinning the hurled shoes into an act of democracy. One that he made possible. To see how,
"That's what happens," Bush said, "in free societies where people try to draw attention to themselves." Free societies? Work it, Dubya. Of course, freedom is not just another word for nothing but a shoe to lose. And the journalist was silenced (probably by something stuffed in his mouth), pulled into a neighboring room, and beaten while he "cried like a woman" as the press conference continued.
As far as Iraqi law goes, he's facing a maximum of eight years in jail; but because he's become a national hero — though adoration is far from universal — many expect him to get off with a light sentence. Which is a far cry from what would have happened under Saddam's rule — and let's face it, the shoe toss never would have happened under Saddam. Maybe a size-10 piece of democracy has arrived in Iraq?