INSIGHTS: Mission Accomplished in retrospect

Four Years After ‘Mission Accomplished’
By Dan Froomkin
The Washington Post

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

There may be no more vivid illustration of the collapse of President Bush’s public image than the changing perceptions of his “Mission Accomplished” moment.
Four years ago today, Bush flew aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in “Top Gun” style, stood under a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” and proudly declared: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”

The event was initially hailed as a brilliant act of White House stagecraft, showcasing Bush as a powerful and resolute leader.

But as time passed, the “mission” was exposed as a delusion. There were no Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. And there is little sense of accomplishment.
When Bush spoke under that banner four years ago, 138 American troops had died in Iraq. Since then, more than 3,000 have perished and over 24,000 more have been wounded.

In a bit of Democratic stagecraft, Congressional leaders have waited until today to send Bush the bill passed last week that sets timetables for a troop withdrawal. Bush has promised to veto it.
With the public decidedly against him and his seemingly never-ending war, Bush is a long way from the flight deck of the Abraham Lincoln.

As recently as Jan. 9 of this year, press secretary Tony Snow tried to make it sound like the White House had nothing to do with the sign. "You know that the 'Mission Accomplished' banner was put up by members of the USS Abraham Lincoln," he said.

That is indeed what Bush himself said at an October 28, 2003 press conference: "The 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished," he said. "I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way."

But as Dana Milbank and Mike Allen wrote in the October 29, 2003, Washington Post, White House staffers were indeed that ingenious: "White House press secretary Scott McClellan later acknowledged that the sign was produced by the White House. He said the warship's crew, at sea for 10 months, had requested it."

Four Years After May 1, 2003: Are We Winning Yet?
By Dave Lindorff

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

It’s been four years now since President Bush pulled his stunt of landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which his staff had ordered to circle around outside of San Diego for the purpose, and which they had decked out with a huge banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” for a backdrop.

On its face, it’s been a wasted four years, a wasted $500 billion (or $2 trillion, if you count the debt and futre veterans’ care), a wasted 3400 American lives (or 55000 American lives if you count all the physically maimed and injured, or 250,000 if you add in the psychologically damaged), a wasted 650,000 Iraqi lives (most of them innocent women and children and the elderly), and indeed a wasted country, since Iraq will never again be the nation and society it was before the US invasion.

Congratulations Bush! Congratulations too, to the hundreds of cowards in Congress, Republican and Democrat, who allowed you to turn this nation into just another war-mongering outlaw state.
“Mission Accomplished” indeed! We just didn’t realize what the “mission” was when Bush made that seemingly preposterous assertion.

EDITORIAL: Baltimore Sun
From a Baltimore Sun editorial this morning: "In the four years since President Bush put on that Navy flight suit and headed out on his mission before the cameras, his administration has accomplished almost nothing in Iraq, and now argues that that is the very reason U.S. soldiers and Marines must stay there and keep fighting and dying. . . .
"Enough is enough."