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December 16th, 2008
10:32 AM ET

Paying down the deficit with whizzing shoes

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/12/15/shoe.reporter.profile/art.shoe.suspect.bgdtv.jpg caption="TV reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in a file photo, was jailed after throwing his shoes at President Bush."]

Nicholas Kristof
The New York Times

A Saudi reportedly has offered $10 million for just one of the shoes thrown at President Bush in Iraq. That got me thinking. The journalist who threw the shoes no longer possesses them, of course, but hopefully some member of the White House staff picked them up and will do a deal with the Saudi buyer. The second one could be put on Ebay to defray the White House travel costs.

But that got me thinking. The Times article about the Saudi offer says that the shoe-thrower is a hero around Iraq, and indeed in much of the Arab world. That suggests that the resale market for shoes thrown at Mr. Bush is fairly deep. And in this difficult economic environment, can we as a nation overlook any way of raising money?

Couldn’t we trot out Mr. Bush before a series of, er, unfriendly audiences, with a White house aide then designated to collect the shoes and auction them off? (To protect Mr. Bush, we could insist that attendees wear only slippers, but in any case he seems to have excellent reflexes and is a pretty good sport.) My own research suggests that a three-week presidential tour of the Islamic world, Latin America and Western Europe would generate a considerable number of flying shoes. Even if there are diminishing returns and we can sell them for an average of only $3 million each, that could bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the Treasury. If a Saudi will pay $10 million for a single shoe that missed the president, consider the income-earning potential of a pair of slippers that actually grazed a presidential ear, perhaps autographed by him as well? Given that a lame-duck president doesn’t have much else to do, Mr. Bush might as well spend his final weeks raising money to pay for a fiscal stimulus, and the United States might capitalize on his global unpopularity.

Any thoughts for how we could refine the business model?

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Filed under: Iraq • President George W. Bush
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. AndreaNaChele

    I agree with both Cindy and Jani...

    This is a matter of extreme disrespect to the country that has allowed them to be so free. No matter your personal thought on Mr Bush (even I think he deserved it) under no circumstances should the offender be allowed to walk freely. That was a direct attack on the highest office of our country. A country who sends its men and women to defend their rights. Men and women who've DIED in the line of duty, so they can ...what? Be so disrespectful....

    Think maybe we should pack up and come home (from Iraq) and leave them to solve their own problems. Since they appreciate (no matter how small) what we've done.

    Maybe the next 'Sadam" will be as merciful when a shoe is thrown at him.

    December 16, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  2. branchscorpion

    He threw the shoes because he, like so many other Iraq citizens, dislike the Americans involvement in their country. They blame us for the deaths of their citizens, with no mention as to the number of American men and women killed liberating them from previous rule.

    This should be an example to our American Government, don't mess where your not wanted. When this war is said and done, they'll respect us no more than they did before we came. What better way to demonstrate their hatred, by throwing objects at the United States President.

    December 16, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  3. Brian from Ohio

    I also applaud that Iraqi reporter for doing what 70% of the American public has not been able to.President Bush and his whole organization has been a disgrace to the United States of America from day one.

    From the "under his breath" comments that managed to slip through the cracks,to his disrespectful representation at the G8 summit in Japan.

    This "lame" president has done nothing but misrespresent the true feelings and beliefs of the American people.Most of the world has come to hate America and americans for these very reasons.

    I am happy that someone has finally had the courage to call this monster out for what he is.

    December 16, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  4. Doost

    American people and American reporters have to learn from this hero, what hasn’t this president done to us, he took us to a war which has killed not only thousands of our soldiers but millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghanis for no reason, he destroyed our economy and the world’s economy by the cost of this war and all the other corruptions that is involved with this war, and we as the people of this free nation weren’t able to impeach him or prosecute him for his crime against humanity and killing. at least someone stand up to his lies and embarrassed him in front of the world

    December 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  5. Chi Town

    I smiled and smiled big...
    Freedom has arrived in Iraq... victory for our military and mission accomplished. I feel better now about leaving when the time comes. This is huge... no where in the middle east could this have happend without dire result to the person. Under Saddam he wouldn't have dared do this... and would have been killed, his family stripped of all wealth and jailed or killed as well. As it is... the man was able to publicly protest without loss of life... on a world stage.

    The best thing President Bush could have said after would have been "Sir, you are very welcome"!

    Great day for Iraq and America... Freedom is alive...

    December 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  6. Mina, Reston VA

    OK, am I the only one appalled by the actions of that Iraqi journalist! How dare he?!? Regardless of what President Bush has done or not done, what that journalist did was uncalled for.

    I'm a party line democrat. I vote the party line and I didn't vote for President Bush. I've been very critical of my President, however what he did to President Bush symbolizes his disrespect for the US and the US people.

    The US needs to get out of Iraq. Let them fend for themselves. Let them spend their own money trying to secure their country.

    December 16, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  7. Anthony from NYC

    First, speaking from the point of view of a financial professional, Bush is not (thats correct...not) at all entirely responsible for the economic crisis. If anything, Bush has had little significance in the meltdown that has occurred.

    While my support for Bush has dwindled significantly over the years he is still our President and deserves some sense of respect when visiting other countries. If you look at other countries and their report on the incident, you'd see that some not only ridicule Bush but also Americans themselves.

    I'm sure that there would be an outcry if the same thing happened to Obama. While Bush is pretty much disliked by most of the country, he still represents the United States abroad. And when you attack the representative of that country with shoes it not only happens to him but also ripples down and affects the country. (Think of it as if in your own household...if a family member got something thrown at them in an attempt to cause harm how would you react?)

    December 16, 2008 at 12:26 pm |
  8. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Bush has not only let this country down but the world down. This shoe incident was a message to let him know his invasion of a country that did not possess WMD and subsequent removal of Hussein to save face in declaring he's "freeing" the people of Iraq did not work The upheaval that's going on in Iraq now is because of Bush and he's now placed America into a neverending war. I'd personally go out and buy stiletto's just to throw at him.

    December 16, 2008 at 12:16 pm |
  9. Cori from Colorado

    This is one of the biggest laughs I've had in a while. Considering Bush has left us in the worst economic mess since the early 1900's, which has had a global ripple effect, I'm surprised more shoes weren't thrown at him. I'd like to see a pair of stiletto shoes hit him in the face. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

    December 16, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  10. word with u

    Well loved the article witty, funny and really a good strategy to stablize the economy. Well just one thing for people of who are so furious at the shoe incident. and trying to tell everybody that he no matter what is an american leader....Bush was an American president when he killed so many people and wrecked the world peace so he is going to to get what he got as an american president. people who support him should also get shoes thrown at them.Bush earned it. HE DESERVES EVEN WORSE THEN THIS. way to go al-zaidi u did something one could only dream of.:)

    December 16, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  11. Wendy Kerr

    I salute this Iraqi journalist for his courage and conviction. It took a great deal of courage to do this. I wish we Americans would excercise more courage in condemming this administration for their unconstitutional misdeeds! After all, in a true democracy, the government SHOULD fear the people, not the other way around.

    December 16, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  12. Jani

    I am not a Bush supporter, by any means, but like Cindy above, I find all the parody about the shoe throwing incident entirely distasteful and disrespectful–not only of our president and the position he holds, but also for the men and women of our military who, with all good intentions and efforts, have lost their lives and shed their blood for the Iraqi people. And this is the way they show their gratitude? By making this numbskull a hero? And our own journalists and columnists are backing this idiotic act? It's not funny. It's harmful to our country, both domestically and abroad.

    December 16, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  13. Scott

    I am writing regarding the Time guy on 360 last night. After the discussion of the Shoe incident in Baghdad, the Time guy mentioned that President Bush was "insensitive" by quipping about the shoe and not commenting about the loss of inocent Iraqi life. What a weird reaction and I guess was an expression of his opposition to the Iraq war.

    The point is not about the consequences of the Iraq war (people rarely talk about the millions of people who died as a result of the Hussein regime's Iraq/Iran war which does not include the 300,000 Iraqis who died in Sadam's prisons during his time in power) but that the head of state of the United States was assaulted.

    The Arab "jounalist" would be subject to assault charges in the US no matter who he threw his shoe at.

    December 16, 2008 at 11:24 am |
  14. Vickie MO.

    Those who have earned respect, usually get it! Too bad the guy wasn't wearing a size 13 shoe!!!!!!!!! Might not have missed then! I say, give him a bigger pair and let him try again!

    December 16, 2008 at 11:23 am |
  15. Kevin

    We might be on to something here! This sounds like a modified version of the water tank dunk contest. We could have every middle class American that has been affected by the kinder, gentler (ultra) conservative movement, throw their shoes at George and Dick. I don't know, what do you think, a buck a throw? We might have quite a few takers!!

    December 16, 2008 at 11:11 am |
  16. Cindy

    I don't think the shoe throwing incident was funny or something to joke about. If this had been one of their people and someone here had thrown something at them there would be an outcry for that person to be punished to the hilt! And there definitely would be no joking.

    So just because it's Bush then it's OK? That is ridiculous! Regardless if you like him or not he is our president and should be treated with respect! These types of articles trying to demoralize him are ridiculous.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 16, 2008 at 10:43 am |
  17. Sue, Billerica, MA

    Maybe this Iraqi guy just misunderstood the meaning of lame duck president and thought he had to do something lame like throw a shoe to make the president duck. Just kidding. All kidding aside, very amusing article, but maybe we need to address this man and the Iraqi people to apologize for the post traumatic stress the whole country is going through, remind them that we meant well in that we thought they would be better off without the insane murderous tyrant Sadamm and the middle east and Iraq would be more peaceful if there had been WMDs and we had really gone in for that, and that then we also thought bringing democracy and freedom and all the modern things and education that those will help thrive would improve life for Iraqis and the middle east so we can all find peace instead of hate and intolerance... tell this man and the Iraqis we Americans are sorry and we are hoping Obama will find a peaceful and safe stable way to give them their country back completely and even though it won't help those who lost and suffer, maybe future generations of Iraqis will be better off if we and they can stop the insurgents and the terrorists and the intolerance and fanaticism, and they should know that no other president will be initiating any wars anywhere for next time we the people will have a louder voice not to invade anyone who is currently and directly threatening, and after this fiasco, we can't afford to financially or politically!

    December 16, 2008 at 10:41 am |