President George W. Bush's surprise farewell appearance in Baghdad was bizarrely interrupted by an Iraqi shoe-palmer named Muntazer al Zaidi yesterday. Deftly ducking the shoe-fly guy's best pitches, the President joked: "If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw."
Al Zaidi, said to be an Iraqi journalist working for Al-Baghdadia of Cairo, was frog-marched barefoot from the news conference. While the journalist was no stranger to controversy, he was not thought to be considered a serious threat, even though he was clearly no Gucci Two-shoes. Al Zaidi was reportedly kidnapped by Shiite militia men last year, only to be released after intervention by his employer. He was being checked for alcohol and drugs and possible connections to subversive Muslim groups interested in embarrassing the United States.
The President's Secret Service detail no doubt will consult with TSA officials, experts in the detection of dangerous footwear, regarding possible new measures to be implemented at future press conferences. In the interim will Helen Thomas and other less senior correspondents attend any remaining Presidential news conferences during the Bush term sans souliers? Replacing the customary performance of "Hail to the Chief" announcing the President's appearance at these functions, Robert Parker's "Barefootin'" could be played until appropriate footwear security can be maintained.