Bush, the shoe, and John F. Kennedy

In the summer of 1963, John F. Kennedy visited Ireland, Berlin, and Central America, and was greeted with wild enthusiasm. (Naturally, that popularity wasn’t enough to protect him from those who killed him to get him out of the way of their own vested interests and their own insane certainties. After all, one could hardly expect these bright boys to take the will of the people into account.)

Now, 45 years later, the president who was appointed by the Supreme Court is in his final month in office, thank God. The contrast couldn’t be more pointed. He, having done the dirty work he was elected to do (or to allow) is in no danger of assassination. He is merely pitied by most, despised by many and hated by some.

It isn’t just a contrast of personalities, though.

More fundamentally it is a measure of how far the United States has fallen in world esteem after another 40-plus years of international meddling, wars, destabilizations, coup sponsorships, and other forms of bullying. We aren’t seen any more as the city on the hill. More like the gun turret on the walls of the fortress.

Can we regain so much ground lost? From http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/21/world/middleeast/21shoe.html?hp

‘Bush Shoe’ Gives Firm a Footing in the Market


Published: December 20, 2008

ISTANBUL — When a pair of black leather oxfords hurled at President Bush in Baghdad produced a gasp heard around the world, a Turkish cobbler had a different reaction: They were his shoes.

“We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way,” said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. “As a shoemaker, you understand.”

Although his assertion has been impossible to verify — cobblers from Lebanon, China and Iraq have also staked claims to what is quickly becoming some of the most famous footwear in the world — orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed “The Bush Shoe,” have poured in from around the world.

A new run of 15,000 pairs, destined for Iraq, went into production on Thursday, he said. A British distributor has asked to become the Baydan Shoe Company’s European sales representative, with a first order of 95,000 pairs, and an American company has placed an order for 18,000 pairs. Four distributors are competing to represent the company in Iraq, where Baydan sold 19,000 pairs of this model for about $40 each last year.

Five thousand posters advertising the shoes, on their way to the Middle East and Turkey, proclaim “Goodbye Bush, Welcome Democracy” in Turkish, English and Arabic.

For now, Mr. Baydan’s customers will have to take his word for it. The journalist who launched the shoes at a news conference a week ago, Muntader al-Zaidi, 29, was wrestled to the ground by guards and has not been seen in public since. Explosives tests by investigators destroyed the offending footwear.

But Mr. Baydan insists he recognizes his shoes. Given their light weight, just under 11 ounces each, and clunky design, he said he was amazed by their aerodynamics. Both shoes rocketed squarely at Mr. Bush’s head and missed only because of deft ducks by the president.

Throwing a shoe at someone is a gross insult in Arab countries, and Mr. Bush is widely unpopular in much of the region. But as he enters his last weeks in office, he seems to have gained a small foothold of appreciation here.

Noting the spike in sales, Serkan Turk, Baydan’s general manager, said, “Mr. Bush served some good purpose to the economy before he left.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.