Sole Survivor

By Daniel Stone

Late Sunday afternoon, during President Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad over the weekend, an Iraqi journalist forcefully threw both of his shoes at Bush before he was quickly subdued by Secret Service and Iraqi security officials.

The incident took place at the end of a press conference Bush was giving with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A local TV journalist stood up and yelled at Bush. His comment, according to a New York Times translation from the Arabic: "This is a farewell kiss, dog."

Even pointing the soles of your shoes toward someone is impolite in local culture, and hitting someone with your shoe is a brazen insult. After U.S. troops toppled the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqis relished hurling shoes at the dictator's statues and portraits.

Bush avoided contact with both shoes, dodging the first and putting up his right hand to fend off the second. Both sailed past him and hit one of several American flags positioned behind the two men. Video of the incident shows the room of reporters and security officials scrambling to detain the man, who reportedly was working with an Egypt-based station, Al-Baghdadia.

Journalists at such events generally have to be accredited through the Iraqi government or U.S. military press operations, especially in the case of such high-profile visitors.

President Bush--who was in Iraq to sign the agreement that sets new terms for the U.S. military presence in Iraq starting Jan. 1, 2009 and calls for troops to be withdrawn by the end of 2011-- looked on as the man was detained. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who was sitting near the perpetrator as officials arrested him, reportedly suffered a black eye.

Making light of the situation, Bush told reporters that he was okay. According to news accounts, Bush later joked that "all I can report is it is a size 10."

--With Larry Kaplow