President Bush speaking at yesterday’s final press conference:
Clearly, putting a “mission accomplished” on a (sic) aircraft carrier was a mistake. It sent the wrong message. We were trying to say something differently, but, nevertheless, it conveyed a different message.
I haven’t visited the lefty blogs, but I can imagine that this will be seized upon as an admission of guilt/wrong-doing.
Every May 1st, the anniversary of the carrier speech (an excellent speech, btw, that still stands today), I can’t help myself but to debunk the spin all over again.
President Bush was gracious enough to express his regrets about the banner, in hindsight; it’s a shame that his critics most likely won’t extend the same and acknowledge that the purpose of the banner was for something other than what it came to signify.
Here are some keynotes:
First off, President Bush never said it. Let’s be clear and accurate here. The words only appear on the banner.
For the crew of the Abraham Lincoln, the mission was accomplished:
the major combat operations were indeed over, in an unprecedented march to Baghdad, and a very quick toppling of Saddam’s regime, using a streamlined military force to defeat one of the largest and what was thought to be one of the most dangerous armies in the world. We predicted huge casualties as the cost for taking Baghdad and Iraq. That didn’t happen. So ended a phase of the war; and for the crew of the Abraham Lincoln, the mission was indeed accomplished. What is going on now, is a separate phase;
a crewman who was present on the carrier to hear President Bush’s speech, mention that the banner was made by the crew, for the crew of the carrier. For them, their mission was accomplished.
I believe that a lot of people have misunderstood the message of “Mission Accomplished”. It was 3 years ago that the President landed on that fine ship and told me that my husband was coming home. And for him and everyone else on that very long, very stressful deployment their mission was accomplished. Publicity stunt or not it was a great day for many.
Who was responsible for the creation of the banner?
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was also someone who didn’t like the banner, nor the “implication of finality”, to which he had taken a critical pen to drafts of the speech that implied any kind of finality and over-optimism. From an interview with Bob Woodward:
MR. WOODWARD: And you know, one thing — just one quick thing not on the list but someone told me about the other day, which I found fascinating. When the person that gave that speech on the Lincoln with the “Mission Accomplished” on the back, somebody told me that the White House speechwriters had used MacArthur’s surrender speech on the Missouri as a model. And they literally had in that speech “the guns are silent,” and you edited it out.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I took “mission accomplished” out. I was in Baghdad, and I was given a draft of that thing to look at. And I just died, and I said my God, it’s too conclusive. And I fixed it and sent it back..
MR. WOODWARD: were you on the trip?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I was. And we got it back and they fixed the speech, but not the sign.
MR. WOODWARD: That’s right. But it had “the guns are silent,” and someone said you line-edited it out and said the guns are not silent.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, that’s for darn sure.
MR. WOODWARD: Is that —
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. No, there’s no question but that I was well aware that things were still happening there. I was there.
And who was responsible for the inclusion of the banner?
Robert Draper writes in Dead Certain (hardly what I’d call a “pro-Bush” book), pg 194-5:
Scott Sforza flew out to the USS Lincoln five days before the speech. Sforza was the White House’s in-house producer.
In the course of his labors, Sforza became quite taken with the crew. When they mentioned to the White House aide that they would like to emblazon the stage with a banner reading MISSION ACCOMPLISHED so as to send up a victorious signal to their families and Navy buddies, Sforza loved the spirit of it and was effusive in his pitch to Fleischer, Bartlett, and the others. By conference call, they mused among themselves: Could the slogan backfire? But Fleischer reminded the others that the press had been haranguing Bush to declare an end to major combat operations for weeks now. The press shop gave Sforza the green light.
Sforza had the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner designed by a private vendor, with a slick red-white-and-blue background. It was unfurled and pinned alongside the carrier, directly behind where the president would give his nationally televised speech on the evening of May 1.
According to Draper’s book, pg196,
(Rumsfeld learned of the banner only after the fact and was not pleased. The final draft of the speech, he would say, “was properly calibrated. But the sign left the opposite impression, and that was unfortunate.”)
Perhaps no one took it harder than Scott Sforza, who knew the truth! The banner- it was for the troops! And everyone was saying that the White House was announcing “mission accomplished”! When anyone could plainly see in the text, plainly hear the president say it: We have difficult work to do in Iraq.
And anyway, no one in the media bothered to call Sforza and find out what the facts were. This was what so galled him. Because Sforza had worked with the great ones, Koppel and Brinkley and Roone Arledge, back in the day when reporters weren’t hired just for their looks. It was quite a somber epiphany for the man who had spent the past week adjusting lights and divining camera angles and dressing up crew members in matchning colors….
The media- they just don’t pay attention to facts the way they used to.
The other video that the above is a response to has since been made private. I guess the knucklehead finally got embarrassed by exposure to his deceit/conspiracy. Mission accomplished!
I think I saved a copy of it in my files. Maybe I’ll get Curt to upload it here.
Bush was flying out to greet the 5,000 sailors aboard the Lincoln as they return home from the war in Iraq.
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.