MILESTONE: ‘Mission Accomplished’ Turns Five

HUFFINGTON POST: Has it really been five years since we were treated to that breathtaking “Mission Accomplished” scene aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln? I remember watching the president’s plane approach the carrier that day as cable news anchors gushed about the sheer genius of the setting for its public relations power. They talked about the president’s bravery, his mastery of the moment, his leadership skills, his macho. But back then, my skeptical feelings were tremendously out of step. Everyone else in the traditional media lapped up the phony photo op like hungry kitties handed a bowl of warm milk. According to DailyKos, here is what the New York Times wrote about the day: “Never before has a president landed aboard a carrier at sea, much less taken the controls of the aircraft. His decision to sleep aboard the ship this evening in the captain’s quarters conjured images of the presidency at sea not seen since Franklin D. Roosevelt used to sail to summit meetings.” MORE

EDITOR & PUBLISHER: On May 1, 2003, Richard Perle advised, in a USA Today Op-Ed, “Relax, Celebrate Victory.” The same day, exactly five years ago, President Bush, dressed in a flight suit, landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major military operations in Iraq — with the now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner arrayed behind him in the war’s greatest photo op. Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a “hero” and boomed, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was “part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.” On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, “The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a — on a carrier landing. This must be very meaningful to the United States military.” When Bush’s jet landed on an aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. The following looks at how one newspaper — it happens to be The New York Times — covered the Bush declaration and its immediate aftermath. One snippet: “The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.” MORE

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *