December 28th, 2008
04:56 PM ET
4 years ago

Laura Bush ‘wasn’t amused’ by shoe incident

Laura Bush spoke out about the shoe incident in an interview with 'Fox News Sunday.'
Laura Bush spoke out about the shoe incident in an interview with 'Fox News Sunday.'

(CNN) - First Lady Laura Bush said that although she “wasn’t amused” when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at her husband, she sees the incident as a sign that “Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves.”

Earlier this month, an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad. Bush ducked, and the shoes, flung one at a time, sailed past his head.

“It was an assault. And that's what it is,” the first lady said in an interview that aired Sunday on “Fox News.”

“And the president laughed it off. He wasn't hurt. He's very quick. As you know, he's a natural athlete. And that's it. But on the other hand, it is an assault, and I think it should be treated that way,” she said.

During the incident, the shoe-thrower - identified as Muntadhar al-Zaidi – could be heard yelling in Arabic: "This is a farewell ... you dog!" Al-Zaidi is an Iraqi journalist with Egypt-based al-Baghdadia television network.

Hurling shoes at someone, or sitting so that the bottom of a shoe faces another person, is considered an insult among Muslims.

Asked if she thinks someone who attacks another person should be released, Bush said, “that’s going to be up to the Iraqis.”

“And they'll do whatever. But I know that if Saddam Hussein had been there, the man wouldn't have been released. And he probably wouldn't - you know, would have been executed.

“So it is - as bad as the incident is, in my view, it is a sign that Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves,” she said.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi goes on trial Wednesday (Dec. 31) on charges of assaulting a foreign leader. Conviction could mean a prison sentence of up to two years.


Filed under: George W. Bush • Laura Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (621 Responses)
  1. SMR

    She seems like a nice lady, but is she stupid too? This journalist is a HERO ( a voice was heard ) We as a Nation had no right to be there!!!

    December 28, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. bush will get lethal injection

    bush...a loser who destroyed Iraq for the Saudis ..so there would be no additional.. 911 incidents...!!! and ...

    ....pleased daddy!! a jerk...!!

    December 28, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. Reality Check richmond virginia

    after getting beat up and facing a stiff prison sentence, I guess they are not as free as they feel?

    December 28, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Doug

    The dirty shoe hit the flag of the United States of America, that was the worst part of the incident for me, after the blood our country has shed so these people can express themselves.

    December 28, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. Not Soon Enough

    Whenever Laura Bush says anything, just remember this: she married George Bush.

    December 28, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. catmom

    Have either George or Laura Bush taken the time to understand the meaning behind throwing the shoes? It wasn't meant for amusement. Nor was he trying to get his 15 minutes of fame, or trying to get in the news. Throwing shoes was a way for him to express his outrage of what has happened in Iraq during George Bush's time as President.
    That being said, it is outrageous that someone in Iraq felt it okay to do something like that to the President of the United States. This shows how far down our country has gone, the lack of respect others have for our country and President and that is sad especially considering how much we have lost in Iraq.

    December 28, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  7. Lance

    A natural athlete? Come on Mrs. Bush – he was a Yale cheerleader. But I'm sure he was much better at that than he was a president. al-Zaidi threw it not only for the Iraqi people but for the Americans who abhor his reign of error. Wish I knew how to contribute to his defense fund.

    Note W failed to bring to justice the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The guy is still out there and W has done the wrong thing at every turn.

    December 28, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Delegate from California

    I didn't vote for President Bush or like a lot of his policies but I do agree with Mrs. Bush.

    We all know here in the United States that you do not make or joke about treating the life of a seating President as we know that is a federal offense and it should be the same when the President is abroad.

    We may not like someone but you will never wish any harm on them.

    Democrat for CHANGE!

    December 28, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. jrc903

    Laura Bush summed it up well. I think she was implying that the decision to take the country to war for the "sole benefit of the Iraqi people" has at last been vindicated. While it has been a tough road, the superior vision of the American president has prevailed over the childlike mentality of the Iraqi people–people who just never realized how unhappy they really were- and how good freedom would feel. Obviously, by shouting down the shoe thrower the Iraqi people have shown how well they have come to grips with the loss of so many of their sons, fathers, and children- this war has caused.
    Moreover they now realize that their suffering at the hands of BUSH was only in their heads– that their sacrifice was required of them to finally know the truth–that PBush loves them "each" so much that he was willing to squander the fortunes and freedom of his own countryman just to give them the right to express their anger without being killed–outright. It is clear,the Iraqi people should be honored that for the first time in history, one American president has seen what was best for them, vetoed their partisan interests-forcefully freeing them from the "monkey like antics" of their former leader As evidenced by this shoe thrower's support, not everyone in Iraq appreciates the efforts of PBush:the man of peace.But as time goes forward, the discordant voices will die/cry out as the majority of Iraq voices it's opinion on this truly magnificent achievement. . PBush once said that he went to war "because Saddam tried to kill my dad." But now we know the truth–it wasn't what the mental health community suggested after all. No. it wasn't about PBush trying to overcome years of abuse at the hands of his mother-it wasn't about him proving his superiority over his father's organs.- it was about freeing a people so that a shoe thrower would not be beaten and killed. And that makes it all worth while.

    December 28, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  10. Joe B, Greensboro, NC

    I don't agree with all that Bush has done, but I do think that he handled this situation very well.

    December 28, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. PULEEEZZZ!! lets tell some truth

    LAURA!!! you husband has killed thousands of people, taken our treasury and flushed it down the toilet! and YOU! I pity you and your ignorance, and may GD forgive your evil husband, You and your self rightiousness, and the US for the destruction we have caused in the name of "freedom"

    December 28, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. elisa

    I wasn't amused either. In fact I was very ticked!!! He is my President a man to be highly respected. Because I'm a democrat doesn't lessen my respect for him.

    December 28, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  13. glen

    was she amused on bloodshed in Iraq.

    December 28, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. elisabeth

    Excellent points, Mrs. Bush! Best of luck to you.

    December 28, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Jeff From Jersey

    It's time for Americans to start feeling freer to express ourselves.It's time to go to Washington and fling our shoes at the whitehouse to demonstrate our absolute disgust at the Bush administration!It would be the final opportunity to show the Bush/Cheney and Rice's of our country that we,unlike the reat of our government,haven't been fooled by their using 9/11 to take away rights guaranteed us to push through the insidious agenda of the few so they could pillage and plunder our own country.
    Getting Obama elected is,of course,a clear demonstration of that but we,the citizens of the United States of America,need to show this thug controlled Administration,has damaged and destroyed the lives of americans bothe here and abroad,for the last time and that they are only worthy of the insult of the thrown shoe to demonstrate our detest for them.
    Please,only a few million shoes are necessary.We don't want to make it too difficult for these rats to leave town.

    December 28, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. Joe the Troll

    "And they'll do whatever. But I know that if Saddam Hussein had been there, the man wouldn't have been released. And he probably wouldn't — you know, would have been executed."

    If Saddam were there, the guy would not have thrown shoes at Bush at all. Nice try at spin, though.

    December 28, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. William Okuch Dak

    The first US lady is right that Iraqis feel free to express themselves and that is because of democracy emerging to Iraqi people.
    Hurling shoe just at a presidential dog of cat of preseident daughter means loosing one's life as well as his/her family members.
    Congratulation to Iraqis to enjoy freedom of self-expression.

    December 28, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. Sanna

    I was also not amused. Mistakes or not, I feel that George bush has tried to help the Iraqi people. To slam our country's elected leader in such a public forum was deliberately offensive. Once again the press seems to take delight in this disrespectful act. I am ashamed for the man and our seemingly gleeful media.
    It is much easier to take pot shot at someone when you have no responsibilities to the people of your nation.

    December 28, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Elisabeth

    Thank you Mrs. Bush for your excellent commentary! Best of luck to you!

    December 28, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Ry

    I keep waiting for her to look into a camera during an interview and say "Why so serious?"

    Your husband has the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on his hands.

    Someone threw a shoe at him.

    You're complaining?

    December 28, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. idealistic in NM

    She does have a point.

    Must be tough to be married to such a crook, but she is right about Iraqis being able to finally express themselves.

    December 28, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. DOC

    We gave them the freedom to express their dissatisfaction at what we've done to their citizens and country?

    Madness. Sheer madness.

    December 28, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. francine, Shannon, Quebec

    Bush, as his wife puts it, may be a natural athlete, but he was way off the mark as president! He should have stuck to owning a baseball team( he did own it right?)

    December 28, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  24. Sanna

    I do not understand your comment that you are awaiting moderation.

    December 28, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  25. William Okuch Dak

    I mean in Arab world, it cannot happen. If so, a person throwing shoe at preseident face, she/he could not only loose his/her live, but his/her family members could lose their lives too.

    December 28, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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