by Barry Michael Cooper
(originally published in the Huffington Post on 23 December 2008)
FINDING OBAMICA, VOL I.
"Shoe program, nigga! Twenty-three hour lockdown!
I'm sorry. I was laughing. I was lol last week, when that shoe came flying at George Walker Bush in Iraq. This was the pith of his "People-All-Over-The-World-Join-Hands-Form-A-Love-Train-Magical-Mystery-Create-The-Legacy-Tour". The President's Exit: stage right.Denzel Washington as Det. Alonzo Harris in the
2001 Warner Bros. film, Training Day
With the guilt-free grin of a man truly weightless in the zero-gravity of his seared conscience, the The-Fantast-Known-As-Bush-43 screened the sequel to his cinema de l'absurde, Mission Accomplished!, for a nervous audience of Iraqi journalists and politicos. The storyline was a boring retread: WMD had been recovered. Saddam was neutralized and Osama Bin Ladin was no longer a threat. Most importantly, Iraq was thriving with the democracy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of free trade.
All Hail...The Liberator?
Um...no. GWB's dadist theater didn't ring true to his listeners. One Iraqi journalist--29-year-old Muntader al-Zaidi -- even voiced his fatigue from taking cover from the shrapnel of Bush's exploding delusion. An exploding delusion which created the collateral damage of Iraq's slaughterhouse reality. This dude knew how to flip the script to read the writing on the wall. Iraq's economy was in ruins.
The non-existent Weapons Of Mass Destruction had long ago dissolved into the leaky drainage of faulty intel. The trail of aborted U.N. fact-finding missions had tumbled into a rabbit-hole of disingenuous White House press briefings. Saddam Hussein's-strong-man-reign had evaporated into the virga of a scraggly peon trapped in a urine ditch. The dictator's removal created a power vacuum in the unstable region and was quickly filled with sectarian violence and terrorist opportunists. Worse but certainly not least, an estimated 655,000 Iraqi citizens had died, since the 2003 arrival of the coalition forces, according to the Washington Post .
So when al-Zaidi tossed his Kenneth Coles--actually, a Ducati Model 271, made by Ramazan Bayan, an Istanbul cobbler--I don't think he was buying President Bush's post-modern recast of himself as John Wayne in some Fordian war epic. Especially when Muntader al-Zaidi spewed in Arabic, "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!" And as he tossed the second shoe, there was this lovely sentiment: "This is from the widows, and the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!"
When I first saw the footage on MSNBC, for some twisted reason, I thought of Antoine Fuqua's 2001 masterpiece, "Training Day", and Denzel Washington's Oscar-winning portrayal of the corrupt L.A. Detective Alonzo Harris. In a pivotal scene from Act 3, Harris begins to realize that he is losing his feudal grip over his Blood gang member-minions in his urban kingdom, the Baldwin Village housing projects. When the gang members begin to revolt, Harris threatens them with jail time at Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit, a.k.a, The S.H.U. program:
"Shoe program, nigga! Twenty-three hour lockdown!"
Initially, that surrealist moment of Muntader al-Zaidi tossing that shoe was pure comedy: "S.H.U. Program"="Shoes thrown at President Bush during an internationally televised Program"? A Shoe Program?
Whatever. The mythic insanity of this footage became a comic goldmine for the ever-spinning news-cycle, and replicated on Leno-Letterman-O'Brien, The Daily Show, and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. In one week, it has stimulated over 2 million views on You Tube.
There is a possibility that al-Zaidi may have watched a DVD of Training Day dubbed in Arabic, but his interpretation may have taken on a more somber and sober meaning. "Shu" in Arabic can be transliterated as "What?" Throwing a shoe at someone in Middle Eastern culture is also a truly demoralizing insult: dirt and manure are on the bottom of shoes. Tread carefully to your own subtext.
Watching President Bush--as he stood next to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki at the Green Zone press conference on Sunday night, 14 December, 2008--intone his fictional take on a country he dismantled, might've prompted al-Zaidi to ask, "What?!" as in, "How dare you?!" Or maybe he felt his tossed shoe was symbolic of Pelican Bay's S.H.U. program, and synced it with suffocation of his beloved country under the wartime lockdown instituted by President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Or maybe I'm just projecting. However, I did read somewhere that Muntader al-Zaidi told someone before he went to the press conference, that he thought it was a good day to be a martyr, so maybe a 45 A.C.P. was replaced by a pair of Ducati 271's. His dream of being the sacrificial-lamb-du-jour was fulfilled, when al-Zaidi was heard screaming as Green Zone security gave him a bone-breaking beatdown. But what if he wasn't patted down and scanned before he entered that press conference? What if Muntader al-Zaidi had been allowed to follow through and live out his Lee Harvey Oswald? Would I be laughing now? Would you?
Though President Bush adroitly ducked the projectile, his legacy was most assuredly assassinated by a pair of oxfords. Those optics will be embedded into our recall for a long time. But, to quote he and the V.P., "So? So what?" Talk about gangsta?!! What?! Or should I say, "Shu?!" Shockingly, days after the shoe-throwing incident, Bush and Cheney are no longer in a state of denial. The Confetti Twins--"So" and "So What?", as they responded to ABC Correspondent Martha Raddatz's pointed questions in separate interviews, about the decision to go to war--are finally admitting that they would've invaded Iraq with or without the substantiated intelligence regarding WMD's.
Cheney also recently confirmed his belief that waterboarding was a necessary tool for P.O.W. interrogations. George Walker Bush and Richard Cheney are two of the baddest gangsters that ever lived; bad enough to pound their chests atop the tallest skyscraper--named "We, The People"--in that once Shining City On a Hill. That same Shining City On a Hill zapped into an eight-year blackout by two power-hungry men. Yes, we have a new utilities guy--President Elect Barack Obama -- ready to restore power, but The Confetti Twins have really earned their infamy. To paraphrase that other gangster, Det. Alonzo Harris:
King Kong ain't got nothing' on them!