During today’s White House press briefing, spokesperson Dana Perino echoed President Bush’s claim that Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi’s frustrations are not representative of the Iraqi public’s sentiments. She pointed out that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki apologized for the mistreatment of his guest. When reporter Helen Thomas pointed out that U.S. forces are actually “occupiers,” Perino bristled:
QUESTION: Why not worry about it? Does it reflect the feelings of the people?
PERINO: I don’t think that you can take one guy throwing his shoe as representative of the people of Iraq.
And I will tell you that Prime Minister Maliki and the journalists who were there in the room, who apologized on behalf of the Iraqis, saying this is not how they would treat a guest. [...]
QUESTION: But he wasn’t a guest. We’re occupiers.
PERINO: No, we’re not. We are absolutely a guest.
Perino later added, “If — if the Iraqis didn’t want us there, we wouldn’t have been signing that agreement that allows our troops to operate there for the next three years,” ignoring the fact that Iraqis primarily supported the agreement because it set a firm deadline for U.S. withdrawal.