The other day, I argued that those liberals amused by the shoes thrown at Bush would never be so casual if the same thing happened to Obama. Liberal fave Rick Perlstein bears me out on this. Not content to wait for Obama's duck and dodge, Perlstein admonished his tribe for showing such little respect for the Holy Presidential Seal.
"Liberals should not make light of or license the physical assault on the leader of a sovereign state, no matter how much he's deservedly hated. This is not how we do politics, unless we're in favor something tending toward anarchy, or fascism.
"This seems open and shut to me: the Iraqi journalist should go to jail for a rather long time."
To Perlstein, the real criminal at that Baghdad press conference was Muntathar al-Zaidi, who was dragged off to be beaten and tortured for his anarcho-fascist behavior. I mean, throwing shoes? Isn't that how the Third Reich got started? Bush, on the other hand, has every right to stand before the Iraqis and lecture them on the glories of democracy. As a "leader of a sovereign state," Bush's mass murder and support for torture in Iraq is legally if not morally sanctioned, or at least undeserving of such crude expressions like flying shoes. I'm certain that if Indonesia's Suharto had shoes thrown at him by a Timorese journalist who lost friends and family in that US-backed genocide, Perlstein would take the same, sensible stand.
Perlstein reminds us that many American liberals are fond of the imperial state, and will defend it against ungrateful recipients of our sometimes misguided, but generally benevolent interventions. Why else would Perlstein call for al-Zaidi's prolonged incarceration, while Bush, however "deservedly hated," can walk freely from the country where his bloody fingerprints are everywhere? Too bad John Wayne Gacy wasn't a head of state. He'd have been free to continue his murderous clown act, with the likes of Rick Perlstein honking his horn out of respect for the office. Recall, too, that Gacy was a Democrat, which would've made Perlstein's job even easier.
I explore all this and more in my next book, "Savage Clowns: The Democrats and Endless Crawlspace."