Back in the Days of 'Mission Accomplished': How One Paper Covered Bush Declaration Four Years Ago
Today marks the fourth anniversary of President Bush’s jet landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and his speech declaring major fighting in Iraq over, all in front of a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner.He then he gives us examples from:
At the time, it was heralded by the mainstream media as a fitting moment of triumph. "He won the war," boomed MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics."
Since then, it has become -- during four more years of death and war -- a symbol of American hubris and setbacks in Iraq. Today it is often lampooned as a tragic “photo op.” Rock singer Neil Young, in a song referencing the event, sings, "History is a cruel judge of overconfidence."
When Bush spoke, the U.S. had 150,000 troops in Iraq; the number now stands at 160,000 or more. American casualties at the time were 139 killed and 542 wounded. A year ago they stood at 2,400 killed and now it's 3,300 dead.
With that in mind, here are excerpts revealing how one newspaper, The New York Times, covered the event and aftermath four years ago. They include this nugget: "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."
- Elisabeth Bumiller
- Judith Miller
- Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
- Dexter Filkins and Ian Fisher
- David E. Sanger
Maureen Dowd, column, May 4
The tail hook caught the last cable, jerking the fighter jet from 150 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds. Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.
He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics.
Compared to Karl Rove's ''revvin' up your engine'' myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer's movies look like ''Lizzie McGuire.''
This time Maverick didn't just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MIG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.
Thomas Friedman, column, May 4
President Bush may have declared the war in Iraq effectively over. But, judging from my own e-mail box -- where conservative readers are bombing me for not applauding enough the liberation of Iraq, and liberals for selling out to George Bush -- the war over the war still burns on here.Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer are reading the Times.
Conservatives now want to use the victory in Iraq to defeat all liberal ideas at home, and to make this war a model for America's relations with the world, while liberals -- fearing all that -- are still quietly rooting for Mr. Bush to fail.