First Lady Laura Bush wasn't amused when an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at the president during a news conference in Baghdad this month.
"It was an assault," she said. "And the president laughed it off, he wasn't hurt, he's very quick as you know he's a natural athlete and ducked it, but on the other hand it was an assault."
But despite her unhappiness, the first lady saw an upside to the Dec. 14 event.
"As bad as the incident is, in my view, it is a sign that Iraqis feel a lot more free to express themselves," she said.
"I know that if Saddam Hussein had been there the man wouldn't have been released, and probably would've been executed," she said of the Iraqi journalist, who was arrested following the Dec. 14 incident and has been in custody since.
Bush also said she disagrees with critics who have deemed her husband's presidency a failure.
Bush noted that during her husband's presidency the country has been safe from terrorist attacks since September 11, that the administration toppled dictators in Iraq and Afghanistan and provided treatment for disease to millions in sub-Saharan Africa. She criticized the media, particularly the coverage of the response to Hurricane Katrina which she described as being "not really factual." Early reports gave the "misimpression" that 10,000 residents died in the 2005 storm, said Bush. An estimated 1,800 people died in the storm and the flood.