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Mission Re-Accomplished

Jesus. As reader probably know I do a weekly column for the Prospect website that comes out Tueday mornings. I was writing it this morning, and the theme was how Bush never admits to having made any mistakes. But I never really thought he would stoop to this: "When asked by Fox News if he still would have put on a flight suit to declare major combat operations in Iraq over, Bush replied, 'Absolutely.'" My friends on the right should also note that later in the article we learn that Bush is still defending the Falluja back-and-forth, a more substantial matter, though slightly less absurd than the defense of "Mission Accomplished." Truly the man is immune to self-doubt, introspection, and minor concepts like letting his thinking be influenced by reality or learning from experience. And things will only get worse if his mismanagement is ratified by the electorate.

UPDATE: It dawns on me that someone really badly needs to ask Bush if he has any regrets about challenging the insurgents to "bring it on" and kill hundreds of additional US troops and significantly more Iraqi civilians. Talk about emboldening America's enemies. I'm sure the relatives of our dead soldiers really appreciate the president's armchair machismo.

September 26, 2004 | Permalink


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Dear Matthew,

a) Whose mission was accomplished?

b) What mission was accomplished?

c) What did he say in that speech?

Answer these questions, and therein shall lie the falsification of your contention.

Posted by: am | Sep 26, 2004 10:38:36 PM

George Bush Is Out of His Fucking Mind.

This world deserves so much better.

Posted by: SamAm | Sep 26, 2004 10:49:08 PM


a) The whitehouse placed a banner that said Mission Accomplished as a backdrop to the event do help craft the Presidents message. The idea that it refers only to that particular ship is laughable.

b) See a.

c) He declared an end to major combat opperations.

The question is, is it better to surf in the wind, or to piss into it.

Posted by: smokefilleddoom | Sep 26, 2004 10:51:15 PM

a. He accomplished that big win that all gamblers play for.
b. He conquered that guy who his father (a pussy in Junior's mind) wouldn't.
c. He said that major combat operations were over. Let's see, that was about 900 American deaths & thousands of dead civilians ago.

Posted by: poputonian | Sep 26, 2004 10:54:20 PM

"Truly the man is immune to self-doubt, introspection, and minor concepts like letting his thinking be influenced by reality or learning from experience."

Glad you got the guy completely figured out, that there is nothing to find beneath the surface. Course, that would mean Bush couldn't be a liar, but would actually believe all that he says. Or is it that the image is all we can deal with in a useful way?

Part 2

David Neiwert posted his second essay on Psuedo-Fascism and the Conservative Movement tonight. In the list of the passionate beliefs that animate a proto-fascism, this is included:

"-- the superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason;"

Now why a portion of the American people want a leader that projects such an image may actually be more interesting, or not, than the fact that Karl Rove found someone to play the part, or that someone who just naturally acts that way fell into the Presidency.

Maybe in a family of achievers, if you can't compete with accomplishment, you try to make up for it with attitude. Gotta get Kitty Kelly's book.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Sep 26, 2004 10:54:25 PM

Bush regrets putting on that flight suit, bank on that. He knows it's a political liability. Remember how he tried to pin the responsibility for the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the crew of the aircraft carrier?

But he can't actually admit it that it was a mistake, because that would reveal a hint of weakness and fallibility, and Bush's schtik is "trust me, I have resolve, I'm infallible."

It appears Bush has made the political calculation that he must never admit a mistake, that admitting the mistake just harms you more. That calculation underlies everything he does and says about Iraq.

Posted by: JakeV | Sep 27, 2004 12:02:22 AM

McAuliffe: NUTS.

Your reasoning is completely off here. Unless you conider "If you do X I will killyou" an incentive to do X.

Posted by: Tagore Smith | Sep 27, 2004 12:59:02 AM

Matt, you've got it all wrong here (although I suspect that your
"Prospect voice" has it wrong here, and not the real MY).

See, as JakeV hints, Bush has in fact learned from experience--never admt error. Every time he does so (e.g. Niger), the Democrats pounce and beat him up with it. But he doesn't get punished for appearing to think he's infallible, so it's best to just stick out his chin and defend the indefensible.

The real question in my mind is: how often does this little game actually delude him? Does he believe his own spin, and if so, why?

Posted by: pratike | Sep 27, 2004 2:05:21 AM

You see, Bush wasn't technically wrong -- when he said "major combat operations are over in Iraq" he meant that's where they were: 'over in Iraq.'

Posted by: Barry | Sep 27, 2004 7:49:20 AM


-I believe AM is alluding to the fat that it was referring to the toppling of Saddam. But that would be a pretty stupid defense, so maybe not.

Posted by: EH | Sep 27, 2004 8:09:32 AM

Expanding on what jakev and praktike wrote above: it would be the height of political stupidity for W to admit he’s screwed up in Iraq. The press and Kerry would tear him to shreds. So why is it considered a sign of W’s stupidity and/or loose grip on reality for him to refuse to commit political suicide?

Posted by: ostap | Sep 27, 2004 8:36:10 AM

Pratike is correct; did anyone really expect Bush to admit error or regret?

Bush lives in a world without nuance--everything's distilled down to 'good' and 'evil' or 'black' and 'white.'

Posted by: Jadegold | Sep 27, 2004 8:43:07 AM

JakeV has it right...
ostap --
Look, that is not an excuse even if it sounds pleasant. He has made his stunt a political liability, he should have started backing away from it months ago but has actually gone the other way, suggesting the mission is so fucking accomplished we'll never want to leave Iraq.

Posted by: heet | Sep 27, 2004 8:47:12 AM

The point here is that Bush is in a box. He can't admit a mistake, because he does not have the temperament to make that alright -- he has to present himself as infallible. But if he insists he hasn't made a mistake, he looks foolish.

This is why I'm glad the Kerry campaign keeps putting this question to him. Hit him on this point again and again and again and again. Bush is in fantasy land.

I hope to see the tape of Bush saying "absolutely" in a campaign ad very very soon.

Posted by: TedL | Sep 27, 2004 9:16:20 AM

Why admit a mistake? It is a he said / he said world, with Fox and CNN acting as party organs for the RNC, and CBS and the rest cowed of being hated.
See Atrios for more "mission accomplished" quotes.

Posted by: MattB | Sep 27, 2004 9:38:07 AM

"...someone really badly needs to ask Bush if he has any regrets about challenging the insurgents to 'bring it on'.... Talk about emboldening America's enemies."

Ah, but America's enemies are only emboldened by "mixed messages." "Bring it on!" is aa thoroughly consistent a message as one could hope for. Sure, it's an explicit solicitation for acts of terror -- but it's not wishy-washy!

Posted by: Grumpy | Sep 27, 2004 9:59:30 AM


Please stop taking Jesus' name in vain. Seriously. I think you're a terrific writer and you should be able to come up with a better rhetorical exclamation than this. Just saying.

Keep up the good work.

C. Ama

Posted by: C. Ama | Sep 27, 2004 11:11:07 AM

adult free

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Three phrases should be among the most common in our daily usage. They are; Thank you, I am grateful and I appreciate.

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