At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."
How is it that I can so vividly picture/hear these statements from our dear President, even though I am just reading it...? You know what I mean, you can imagine the "off-the-cuff", smirky, one-arm lean over the podium, cocky stance that equals "I'm talking out my ass."
Well, his ass was certainly doing the talking. This statement is clearly designed to leave the impression that "thanks to us, the Iraqis have a nice little soccer team there in the Olympics." Well who gives a shit about non-existent weapons of mass destruction as long as we're making the world safe for soccer?! The fact is that Iraq always has been in the Olympics, even under Saddam's regime. Bush's latest campaign ad strays a little closer to the truth on that point:
In those spots, the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear as a narrator says, "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."
Oh, they're there as free nations now...I see. Last time those guys were a bunch of terrorist thugs just like their dictator masters? Just like the Russian gymnasts and hockey players in the 80s were actually evil too. The whole point of the Olympics is to leave borders, governments, politics and idealogies aside and let the athletics be the message. Far be it for our President to resist the temptation to politicize the event and take credit for stuff he had nothing to do with. The Iraqi soccer team has an even stronger reaction [my emphasis added]:
"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."
Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."
...they also find it offensive that Bush is using their team for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions in Iraq. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"
"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."
Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.
"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."
Just some more grateful flower-tossing by the Iraqis. I hope Bush doesn't show up for the Medal Ceremony if the Iraqis get that far, he'll leave it walking sorta funny.
UPDATE: Watching the ad, you'd think George W. Bush has been President since 1972, spreading Democracy all around the world, "In 1972, there were 40 democracies in the Olympics -- now there are 120..." And of course the swimmers featured are all white. Maybe you'd consider branching out and featuring a more international selection of athletes? I also notice the ad uses the old Iraqi flag, not the spiffy new crypto-Israeli/UN flag we forced on them this past spring...