Monday, May 01, 2006


Anniversary of the Day: "Mission Accomplished"

The National Embarrassment

It was the first time a sitting president has arrived on the deck of an aircraft carrier by plane....

Moments after the landing, the president, wearing a green flight suit and holding a white helmet, got off the plane, saluted those on the flight deck and shook hands with them. Above him, the tower was adorned with a big sign that read, "Mission Accomplished."

—report by CNN from aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

Upon landing, the National Embarrassment was greeted by the Teletubbies, also known as "side boys." (It's an old naval custom.) Tinky-Winky (left, in lavender) is alleged to be gay. His red handbag, not shown in the photo, may have been removed for security purposes.

I thought it would be enlightening to see what the media were saying and writing on that auspicious day.

Greg Mitchell surveyed the NY Times coverage for the week, from which I excerpt the cheerleaders—

Elisabeth Bumiller

President Bush's made-for-television address tonight on the carrier Abraham Lincoln was a powerful, Reaganesque finale to a six-week war....1

Editorial, May 2

As presidential spectacles go, it would be hard to surpass George Bush's triumphant ''Top Gun'' visit to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln yesterday off the California coast. President Bush flew out to the giant aircraft carrier dressed in full fighter-pilot regalia as the ''co-pilot'' of a Navy warplane. After a dramatic landing on the compact deck -- a new standard for high-risk presidential travel -- Mr. Bush mingled with the ship's crew, then later welcomed home thousands of cheering sailors and aviators on the flight deck in a nationally televised address.

The scene will undoubtedly make for a potent campaign commercial next year. For now, though, the point was to declare an end to the combat phase of the war in Iraq and to commit the nation to the reconstruction of that shattered country….

But Media Matters has the goods. Here are but a few—

Chris Matthews of MSNBC:

  • He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics....
  • Here's a president who's really nonverbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West.
  • The president's performance tonight, redolent of the best of Reagan...
  • The president there -- look at this guy! We're watching him. He looks like he flew the plane. He only flew it as a passenger, but he's flown --
    .... He looks for real. What is it about the commander in chief role, the hat that he does wear, that makes him -- I mean, he seems like -- he didn't fight in a war, but he looks like he does.

And then there's the sexual innuendo and gay-bashing. G. Gordon Liddy, felon under Richard Nixon, was gushing—

Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out.

Security Concerns

Karen Young of the Washington Post wrote the next day,

For once, there were no security concerns to keep Bush from pressing flesh, and he made the most of it, hugging and patting everyone on the back -- from the greasy flight deck crew to F-18 pilots waiting to fly home this afternoon.

This couldn't have been correct. CNN reported,

A second pilot and a Secret Service agent were in the rear seats of the plane when it landed.

Bush wanted to swoop onto the deck of the Lincoln aboard an F-18 Hornet, but the Secret Service nixed the idea -- they didn't like leaving the president unguarded in a fighter jet that only has space for the president and a pilot.

And so, as we sail into the sunset, I leave you with an image I hope will last from that memorable day—

The Commander-in-Chief with SS protection aboard ship. Observe the two gentlemen in the background wearing business attire.

Related post
Suddenly there was an explosion—Our brave, macho President (10/30/04)
George Bush: Cheerleader-in-Chief of Social Security "reform" (2/14/05)

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