They Weren’t Paying Attention

Today is the fourth anniversary of George Bush’s speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln — the one Democrats and anti-war activists call the “Mission Accomplished” speech. The crew of the carrier flew the banner because their mission had indeed been accomplished — they had successfully supported the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government, and were returning to the United States. Instead, everyone has attributed the banner’s message to George Bush.
All that proves is that they didn’t listen to what he had to say four years ago. As A Better Where To Find points out, Bush hardly communicated anything remotely like “the war is over”:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We’re bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We’re pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We’ve begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We’re helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.
The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

Nowhere in this speech did Bush declare that the war was over, nor that we could leave Iraq. In fact, he made it plain that we would stick by the Iraqi people and remain in place until they could establish a democratic government that could secure the nation.
Not everyone on the Left was fooled by the banner. Hillary Clinton, in a speech that preceded Bush’s, also made it clear that the overall mission was far from over:

Tonight President Bush will address our Nation and will tell the world that Operation Iraqi Freedom’s military action is over, at least insofar as major military engagements may be required. We know we will have continuing problems, like those we have seen in the last few days. But it is true we are now moving toward the second phase, which is the rebuilding of Iraq. So this colloquy we are having today is especially timely because of the President’s announcement this evening.

And that much has been true. We have not had major military operations in the same sense as the invasion. We have been engaged in police actions intended on securing portions of cities against attacks, not major military maneuvers such as the opening days of the conflict. Those police actions are still deadly, but they represent the traditional role of stabilization for an allied government.
This meme has all sorts of holes in it, mostly involving a refusal to engage in an intellectually honest manner about what was said and done four years ago today. The same people who complain that the pre-war intel of two administrations and most of the world’s spy agencies wasn’t perfect seem to have no issue using half-truths and less in a weak attempt to score points four years later.

35 thoughts on “They Weren’t Paying Attention”

  1. Educating the Democrats and the Far Left

    I am going to start with something Captain Ed points out about Think Progress and their deliberate attempt to rewrite history and mislead their readers with false allegations.

  2. I never did understand why the “Mission Accomplished” banner did not properly describe the status of the USS Abraham Lincoln crew, who accomplished everything they could accomplish in the war, as a floating airport. After Baghdad Airport was in American hands, they weren’t needed anymore. Their mission was over at that point. And nothing that Bush said that day implied that the banner applied universally to every aspect of the war, and to the ongoing efforts to stabilize a dazed leaderless Iraq. Clearing mines from the roadside, or clearing terrorist cells from houses and apartments, dangerous as it is, is not properly described as “major combat operations,” which Bush quite rightly said was over.

  3. Since when have the Democrats ever been interested in the truth?
    The fact is they’ve been using this to beat the President over the head for four years now. It’s good to see that May 1 will from now on go down as the day the President vetoed the Democrats’ defeat bill, and the day the Democrats took 100% ownership of the war’s failures by declaring we have lost.
    No matter what the Democrats do from now on, they claim 100% responsibility for the emboldened attacks on our troops and Iraqi civilians, loss of morale by those who are fighting for Iraq, and any reduction in stature America may suffer from the fact they cannot take this war seriously.
    The blood from any further attacks is on Nancy and Harry’s hands now, not George W. Bush’s. They continue to fund a war they do not believe we should be fighting. They refuse to do anything with their constitutionally mandated powers other than to play political games. They refuse to de-fund the war, which if they actually believed in their words they would do, but they are too busy playing politics with millions of lives.
    History will be ruthless to the Dems.

  4. My Dad served aboard just about every type of US Coast Guard vessel known (from buoy tenders to his final seaborne job as Exec Officer on one of the large cutters. One of his Commanding Officers, would later go on to become one of Jean-Claude Kerry’s Commanders in Vietnam, and then almost 40 years later he Swift-Boated him).
    Pop always said that even when they returned from mundane sea duty (one of the most boring jobs the Coast Guard Cutters did 50+ years ago was sit in one place for weeks on “weather station” in the middle of the North Atlantic) they always flew a “Mission Accomplished” banner.
    This is just another example of people from the left side of the aisle not having a clue about how the military works. They hate the military so much they’re afraid to learn anything about it that might change their preconceived ideas.

  5. And that much has been true. We have not had major military operations in the same sense as the invasion. We have been engaged in police actions intended on securing portions of cities against attacks, not major military maneuvers such as the opening days of the conflict. Those police actions are still deadly, but they represent the traditional role of stabilization for an allied government.
    When over 3,000 U.S. soldiers have died since May 1st, 2003 and 24,000 more have been wounded, the irony of the “Mission Accomplished” banner is bitter indeed. Those who say it was merely a minor, unasked for prop need to be reminded of how the whole event was deliberately stage-managed by the White House for the glorification of President Bush, especially given how the USS Abraham Lincoln was almost within sight of harbor in San Diego. But President Bush had to have his flying stunt for the TV cameras, for his own selfish benefit.
    Four years later, what we have in Iraq is a failed state. It’s government cannot even begin to exercise any real authority over its country. The most basic services, such as electricity and sanitation, are provided haphazardly, if at all. Security for Iraqis is abysmal and millions have been displaced from their homes as a result of sectarian violence. This isn’t “the traditional role of stabilization” for the U.S., it’s a miserable failure by an administration that at every turn has refused to recognize reality and instead engaged in ever more spin to try and fool the American public.
    “Mission Accomplished” was never anything more than televised eyewash meant to boost President Bush’s popularity. It was vainglory at its worst, and was something the likes of President Eisenhower would have surely have found not to be in keeping with the honor of the nation he served.

  6. Re: starfleet_dude at May 1, 2007 05:00 PM
    Why try to make everthing about politics, when it’s not. The banner was a simple pat on the back to the ship’s crew, which they certainly deserved.

  7. More of the same, from Tim Grieve:

    One man’s stunt is another man’s schedule

    This morning, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino charged Democrats with engaging in a “trumped-up political stunt” by arranging for Congress’ Iraq war withdrawal timeline to hit the president’s desk on the fourth anniversary of his “Mission Accomplished” speech.

    A short while later, the White House told reporters that the president will be vetoing the bill this afternoon, right after he returns from Florida, where he made a high-visibility appearance at the U.S. Central Command, and just before he goes before the TV cameras for a brief speech to the nation.

  8. Why try to make everthing about politics, when it’s not. The banner was a simple pat on the back to the ship’s crew, which they certainly deserved.
    The crew did deserve it, but the whole elaborately staged event was all about politics for the express benefit of President Bush, who wanted to be the Flyboy-in-Chief that day for the TV cameras.

  9. How many people watching the speech 4 years ago expected that 150,000 troops would be in Iraq today? That certainly wasn’t the message that was conveyed.

  10. Thanks for the plug, Capt! And nice catch on Hillary.
    starfleet_dude, your first post was an amazing job of getting just about everything wrong.
    There is no irony in “Mission Accomplished” which you would know if you would stop Bush-bashing long enough to read what he actually said.
    And unlike you, Ike would know the difference between celebrating America’s accomplishments and being vainglorious. Unlike you, he would know the blame for instability in a country is the fault of the murderers and terrorists trying to grab power and not the people who stand and fight for freedom.
    But I will say it is a refreshing change to hear from someone who has no understanding of the Korean War instead of the usual false and hollow Vietnam comparisons we normally get.

  11. abwtf writes:
    There is no irony in “Mission Accomplished” which you would know if you would stop Bush-bashing long enough to read what he actually said.
    Tell that to the thousands of soldiers and civilians alike who have been killed and wounded over the past four years in Iraq, where there’s still no end to the mission in sight.
    And unlike you, Ike would know the difference between celebrating America’s accomplishments and being vainglorious. Unlike you, he would know the blame for instability in a country is the fault of the murderers and terrorists trying to grab power and not the people who stand and fight for freedom.
    Unlike you, I know that Eisenhower made the best of a military stalemate in Korea and settled for a cease-fire when he became President in 1953. Eisenhower also knew the difference between uttering useless platitudes and winning a war. He also knew when a war wasn’t worth winning. Bush’s vainglory and continuing petulance has nothing to do with the honor of his country, it has everything to do with his own ego and nothing more.

  12. The crew of the Abe did an amazing job during their extended deployment and deserved more than a pat on the back.
    But – my experience in the Navy includes working with the supply system, and more specifically, includes working from a carrier on WESTPAC. I have never heard of a battle group commander (1 star) or a CVN CO (4 striper) deciding that he would use the White House staff to procure material. Specifically, the White House states that although they procured and transported the banner, it was at the Navy’s request. Considering that the ship’s options included (a) making it themselves (carriers have BIG print shops), (b) ordering it from Pearl and walking it aboard during their portcall or (c ) ordering it from San Diego and flying it out via COD, the White House staff story seems to be a stretch.
    Representative Wiki article to the story:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished
    It is clear that this was a carefully orchestrated White House event, from the use of a jet to ensuring the photo op with the banner and the rest of it. This is the president’s prerogative. That he and his staff made some bad calls in retrospect is not a new thing in presidencies.
    While I enjoy this blog, I would enjoy it a little more if it served less as an apologist for the administration, and instead focused on real ways for the President and the Congress to find a compromise spending bill and other *real* issues. Let the Dem’s bark about irrelevancies, who cares?

  13. Starfleet Dude,
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but dont we still have troops in South Korea?

  14. I see, so Bush “staged a political event”, but Pelosi just speaks, right? Reid, Murtha, none of them have ever “staged” an event? How absolutely hypocritical of you to point to Bush and say he “staged” a political event” for his own benefit, when every damn politician since Caeser himself and before has “staged” political events. The Dems do this on a daily basis, but the President can’t? Oh, I forgot, it’s GWB, different rules.
    And Flyboy-in-Chief? Got news for you, he was a pilot loooong before he was President. Seems it’s no problem when presidents who served in the navy want to steer a ship, you had no problem with Dukakis in a tank (no, the Dems don’t EVER stage anything, huh?) regardless of the fact he couldn’t even get the helmet on without help, but you have a problem with a military pilot flying a military aircraft aboard a military ship? Once again, what a moron. Ratseal and starfleet dude are examples of people being willfully ignorant.

  15. Careful, jr, you start pointing out facts their heads explode. And don’t ever bother asking them to show where any battle plan ever survived the first encounter without changes, or what they’d do to commanders who didn’t adapt in the field. And don’t point out the fact that we still have troops all over the world, including those in Germany, England (thinking they should be secure now if anyone is, right?), South Korea, and various places in the pacific, most of which change due to political climate. But those troops are there because we felt it best to leave them there in case of another attack. Same reason we have troops in Iraq. We eventually moved out troops out of most of Europe, but we did base some there for future problems. We would not be breaking new ground if we did that in the Middle East, and we already have bases in Turkey and other places before all this started. But don’t confuse them with facts, jr. It just makes their ears bleed, and frankly, I can’t take another chorus of lalalalalalalalalala

  16. Doc Neaves,
    The title of this blog piece and the first line are specifically about Bush’s speech aboard Lincoln back in 2003. This is why comment is focused on Bush, vice Pelosi / Murtha or any Democratic Party staged events. I happen to agree that all politicians stage events in order to score points – this is one of the foundations of political theater. None of the content of my post is contrary to this. Did I focus on Bush – you betcha – his speech is the topic of this particular blog entry on CQ.
    Since nothing in your post contradicts any of my statements, I will accept your comments as an indication that our positions on this topic are the same, the *willfully ignorant* comment notwithstanding.

  17. he he…starfleet dud can’t get past his own echo chamber.
    He thinks it was something it wasn’t, therefore he’s right.
    Keep repeating the same tired old mantras, dud boy. It wasn’t true then, it ain’t true now.
    You must have studied Eisenhower in your remedial history class this week, dud. You sure like to drop that name. LOL.

  18. Two days ago I had a friendly argument with a conservative individual who believed that the president was doing it for himself; show boating. I asked him if he had served, which he hadn’t. I told him the President landed the plane for the men and women on the carrier; to openly show his appreciation of THEIR sacrifice and completed mission in Iraq. Remember, no US planes were lost from any cause. I understood immediately why the President did what he did. As a former aviator, even if he was Air Force NG, he did what no speech could do for the crew’s morale. I had a Captain on our sub, who knew this and practiced showing he was also a member of the crew; he is still highly respected by we old hands.
    Thank you for again stating the obvious for those who don’t or won’t understand.

  19. starfleet_dude, May 1, 2007 at 5:18 PM: “The crew did deserve it, but ….”
    That’s the first praise for our service people from a liberal commenter that I can recall reading here. Wasn’t so difficult, was it?
    If I could read a little more of that sprinkled in with the anti-Bush stuff maybe I wouldn’t completely loathe your party.

  20. Love how the neo-cons love to re-write history. Sure dummies like us Democrats will believe that wasn’t a photo op on the carrier. WTF? You throw these ignoramus statements out like they were gospel. With the neo-con crowd down is up, up is down. Bush blew it, he doesn’t have a clue how to turn Iraq around. Keeping American troops there to die won’t get him his “victory”. Listen up neo-clowns, Bush has lost Iraq and he’s lost the American people. You can jump up and down and call us traitors till you turn blue in the face. Your glorious leader is a boob, surrounded by boobs. Sound bites won’t help him now. Now he’s got a congress THAT WILL STAND UP TO HIM. Dubya can’t handle that. He’s a petulant child, the boy king.

  21. conservative democrat:
    I think you forgot one or two of your cliches…
    Haliburton…war for oil…bush lied, people died…etc., etc., etc.
    Keep it up. I am so impressed with your keen reasoning.

  22. The issue is that the dems are using the “mission accomplished” sign as yet another out of context statement to bash Bush. It’s yet another sign of his incompetence, because it clearly says “Mission Accomplished” which can only mean what the the dems are implying it means, namely that Bush is saying that the war is done, therefore he’s a fool because in fact the war was not done.
    You libs are really keen on playing these gotcha games where you take some text out of context, and ascribe your own motivation and context which can be the only possible reading of an event, and then harp on those out of context symbols as if it means something.
    The ship was finished with its mission. Therefore there is a sign that says mission accomplished. In the speech however, Bush clearly lays out that there is a lot of work to be done (and not easy work) before the war is won.
    Clearly,, if Bushwere saying that the war were over with his Mission accomplished sign he woudln’t then make a speech where he said the war still has a ways to go. Who’s rewriting history CD? The issue is not whether it was a photo op.
    You people are unbelievable. And CD, the only history thats being rewritten is by you.
    And the congress that will stand up to him will not override his veto, therefore they will fold. Pretty soon they will then have to either not fund the troops and be branded as weak on defense, or piss off their wacko base (of which you are included) because they can’t deliver the goods.
    Sound bites wont help him now? What else is this automatic vetoed bill but a sound bitte for the democrats, and what else is timing the sending of the bill to the president to coincide with the anniversary of Mission Accomplished sign, but a photo op for the dems? They’re not above playing political theater with the troops,only when they do it they threaten to withold the funds. If you accuse Bush of using that carrier solely as a photo op, at least when he did so he he was doing something that honored the troops as opposed to the dems who do so to undermine the troops mission while mugging for the camera.
    Wow, the dems passed an absolutely meaningless resolution that was going to be vetoed the minute it passed the presidents desk. How brave of them. Meaningless gestures seem to be what they’re good at. In addition to undermining the troops why not throw in some extra pork too, just to really show what a bunch of pigs they are.
    Now, in keeping in line with how the democrats conduct wars, shouldn’t this be the time when the democxrats strategically redeploy to somewhere safer?

  23. conservative democrat habla:
    “Bush has lost Iraq and he’s lost the American people. You can jump up and down and call us traitors till you turn blue in the face. Your glorious leader is a boob, surrounded by boobs. ”
    LOL! You’re Russ Meyer’s son, right?
    You should impeach Bush. In fact, please do!

  24. RE: conservative democrat (May 1, 2007 08:47 PM)
    You can jump up and down and call us traitors till you turn blue in the face.
    I don’t think the rational here will approach any shade of blue any time soon. You white-flag waving pinkos are just green with envy that yellow is your favorite condition – an ugly rainbow we detest and only makes us puce.

  25. 1. Presidential photo ops hava been part of the job description for decades. Being upset over landing a plane on an aircraft carrier is simply BDS. It’s simply not anything that matters unless the most important thing in the world to you is having a Democratic President.
    2. Terrorists murdering Iraqis isn’t the same as Bush losing Iraq. But congratulations to the Left on all the political gains they make by pretending it is.

  26. starfleet:
    Bush was talking about the carrier group, not the entire military and if you would stop running your mouth long enough to think about it you would realize.
    Did I think we would have troops there four years later? Yes, I did.
    Now, let’s talk about Clinton’s sppech back in 1998 when he said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, was a danger to his own people, the region and the people of the United States. Clinton went on to say that the regime of Saddam Hussein needed to be removed from power because the president said Saddam will use those weapons, mark my words Bill said, mark my words.

  27. Funny how all of trolls talked around the Hillary quote. Of course, since it destroys their whole argument, I can understand it.

  28. jr565, nicely done!
    I remember Bush from the beginning of this fight explaining that this will be a long, difficult war like we’ve never fought before. It is disingenuous to use one moment to negate all that.
    On the other hand, I guess it all depends on what you mean by major military engagements. With the amount of military men we are talking about sending to Iraq, I can fully understand some will see that as increasing our engagement there to a significant degree. It’s not what any one wanted to see happen at this stage of the war or expected to happen after that photo op.
    It’s embarrassing to be caught in such a moment that can be twisted effectively by the left but truly a minor detail.

  29. “Mission Accomplished”

    The “Mission Accomplished” speech the President gave on the USS Abraham Lincoln 4 years ago yesterday has been the cause of much fury and snickering on the part of the moonbat left.
    We all remember in the immediate aftermath the howls of …

  30. “The title of this blog piece and the first line are specifically about Bush’s speech aboard Lincoln back in 2003. This is why comment is focused on Bush, vice Pelosi / Murtha or any Democratic Party staged events.”
    No, none of this needed to be repeated, it’s already out there. You repeated it to make your point, which is that this was a staged event, hammering on Bush only. Believe me, if the article title had been Pelosi did this or that, the first thing out of your mouth would have been “yeah, maybe it’s wrong, but the Republicans do it too”. Your total lack of mention of Pelosi, Reid, etc., while making what Bush did seem like it was over the top (after all, barely mentioning it means you’re NOT making a big deal out of it, but going on and on, giving wiki (real solid reliable source, there, ratseal) links IS making a big deal out of it). You did that to bash Bush, and you know it, which, in order to bash him for it, you have to be willfully ignorant to ignore Pelosi, etc. Since you admit to knowing the Democrats are just as bad as Bush or any other politician at staging theater, then I will change my wording from willfully ignorant to willfully misleading.
    “I happen to agree that all politicians stage events in order to score points – this is one of the foundations of political theater. None of the content of my post is contrary to this.”
    Except that great big hole where you said BushBushBush, but nothing about anyone else. Omission is lying, too.
    “Did I focus on Bush – you betcha – his speech is the topic of this particular blog entry on CQ.”
    I call Bullshit. Just plain bullshit.
    “Since nothing in your post contradicts any of my statements, I will accept your comments as an indication that our positions on this topic are the same, the *willfully ignorant* comment notwithstanding.”
    Take it anyway you want to, you’ll still be wrong. Your position might be that everyone does it, but to call Bush down for it and no one else and then claim impartiality is simply disengenous. You know your position is that “he does it more, it’s worse, hang his butt”, where it’s “oh, that’s just sex, who cares, it’s such a small thing” when it comes to Democrats. Don’t EVER state our positions are the same, unless we’ve reviewed them side by side. Got it?
    Posted by: Ratseal at May 1, 2007 07:25 PM
    “It is clear that this was a carefully orchestrated White House event, from the use of a jet to ensuring the photo op with the banner and the rest of it.”
    Just by stating it like that, you give away your bias. It’s clear to me that the White House has to carefully stage EVERY DAMN EVENT, after all, nothing can be done on the spur of the moment when hundreds of people have to change course suddenly.
    “This is the president’s prerogative. That he and his staff made some bad calls in retrospect is not a new thing in presidencies.”
    Truth, finally.
    “While I enjoy this blog, I would enjoy it a little more if it served less as an apologist for the administration”
    More hateful rhetoric. When has anyone here been an apologist? You mean, if we ever defend any damn thing he does, right?
    “and instead focused on real ways for the President and the Congress to find a compromise spending bill”
    Translation: gave in, compromised with the Democrats (which, in your mind, means giving them what they want, hardly the definition of compromise), gave us our way.
    “and other *real* issues.”
    So, the president isn’t focused on *real* issues, huh? The war in Iraq, Iran’s nuclear threats, North Korea’s nuclear threats, Pakistan, China, Russia….these are all just fake issues, huh? Go ahead, impress me with one of your real issues. Don’t tell me, Global Warming, right? That was too easy. Maybe you’d like to raise the minimum wage to twenty bucks an hour? Come on, give me some of your socialist claptrap that you think are REAL issues.
    “Let the Dem’s bark about irrelevancies, who cares?”
    Me, that’s who. When their lies go unchallenged, we have things like the 06 elections. When the MSM won’t tell the truth, won’t expose the liars for what they are, we all suffer. The first time you don’t fight back, they use the fact that you didn’t fight back as an excuse to stop you from fighting at all, calling it a mandate to stop the fighting. Liars. That’s why we challenge EVERY BARK, because no lie can go unchallenged.
    Posted by: Ratseal at May 1, 2007 06:02 PM

  31. Broder, Eric Hoffer, inauthenticity and other thoughts

    Reading this piece about how the Democrats in the Senate banded together to throw their skirts over their faces and weep and wag fingers at David Broder (for the crime of daring to criticize one of them), I am reminded of Eric Hoffer’s remark in …

  32. abwtf said:
    “1. Presidential photo ops hava been part of the job description for decades. Being upset over landing a plane on an aircraft carrier is simply BDS.”
    Clinton staged FOUR Aircraft carrier photo ops as pResident. And how about Bubbah’s using Naval ships for his carefully stage-managed and extremely well-acted snow job at Normandy? He was an even better actor than Reagan on that one day…

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