Sunday, December 21, 2008

LARRY ELDER COMMENTARY: Suppose The Shoe Thrower Targeted Saddam

H/T BookerRising The libertarian Republican commentator, on the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush:

“Let us pose a few questions. Suppose one or both shoes hit their mark. What if President Bush had been struck in the eye and been seriously injured? After all, in the chaos, press secretary Dana Perino was injured when a microphone struck her in the eye. Would some in the media have considered it as comical had the reporter targeted Barack Obama? It is, after all, quite reasonable that the incoming President will be the subject of a greater than usual number of threats. This raises another question — how did the Secret Service allow the man to get off not one, but two attacks?”

He continues his commentary: “Suppose the Iraqi reporter had thrown his shoes at Saddam Hussein. During the dictator’s 24-year reign, Saddam killed an estimated 300,000 Iraqi citizens. Some place the number at more than a million. This means that, on the low end, over the past six years, a still-in-power Saddam would have killed 75,000 people. Since the March 2003 coalition invasion of Iraq, the Iraq Body Count — which many consider reliable — puts the number of violent Iraqi civilian deaths at between 89,000 and 98,000, a number that includes ‘insurgents’ and civilians killed by them.

But Iraq now has a fledgling multi-sectarian democratic government, a better economy — and a free press. ‘All over central Iraq,’ wrote the BBC mere months after Saddam Hussein’s fall, ‘independent radio and television stations are suddenly emerging to fill the void left by the destruction and collapse of the old national broadcaster. Iraqis are enthusiastically embracing the possibilities of a free media after years of heavy censorship. Alongside these do-it-yourself radio and TV stations, dozens of newspapers representing every kind of political viewpoint are suddenly available.’ What of the fate of the shoe thrower in today’s Iraq? Eyewitness and NBC news producer Ghazi Balkiz put it this way: ‘(Under Saddam) any insult to the president or the president’s guests used to be punished by death.’ So while al-Zeidi remains in custody, he faces no feet-first visit to the wood chipper. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even get his shoes back.”

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