April 26, 2007

Buying the War

Four years ago on May 1, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln wearing a flight suit and delivered a speech in front of a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner. He was hailed by media stars as a "breathtaking" example of presidential leadership in toppling Saddam Hussein. Despite profound questions over the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction and the increasing violence in Baghdad, many in the press confirmed the White House's claim that the war was won. MSNBC's Chris Matthews declared, "We're all neo-cons now;" NPR's Bob Edwards said, "The war in Iraq is essentially over;" and Fortune magazine's Jeff Birnbaum said, "It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context."

How did the mainstream press get it so wrong? [...]

Bill Moyers has returned to PBS with his Bill Moyers Journal. I'm hearing (on the radio, from Mike Moran) that last night's installment about the media dropping the ball on the Iraq war was worth watching. But I missed it. Luckily, they've got it online and they'll likely re-run it.

Keep your eyes peeled for Bill Moyers Journal: Buying the War.

[Edited to add:]

I've thought about this before. I've heard interesting answers to the "Mission Accomplished" silliness. Some have just dismissed the banner, which I think is ridiculous, considering the other indications that there was an attitude that we had already won at that point. Some said that it was that ship's mission alone which was accomplished (as if you have a banner like that and a president on your ship every time you complete a mission).

A more plausible explanation was that the administration was so concerned with removing Saddam that there was very little thought about what would come after. So they really wanted to define success by the part of the conflict they were really excited about, and disregard the messy aftermath. They actually were drinking their own liberator Kool Aid. And, of course, we quickly learned that these were the wrong people to have in charge of liberating a country.

But they really had a good deal of the country, the media included, along for the ride.

In the case of the media, I don't want to excuse anyone, but I can't help but notice that there are market forces which drive the media. Were they telling us what the administration wanted to hear, or what we, as a people, wanted to hear? I think the administration played on what people wanted to hear; instead of leading, they were exploiting. .

Posted by James at April 26, 2007 9:48 AM
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Comments

I think you're right - removing Saddam was the main event, in their minds (Jr. manages to do something his daddy didn't do, woohoo!) and only then did they have any concern for what might happen next.

Thinking ahead has very clearly never been their strong suit. Or even their weak suit. More like a rented party costume.

Posted by: Julie at April 26, 2007 12:30 PM

You screw up the world with the president you have.

Posted by: James at April 26, 2007 12:52 PM

Next time I complete a project, I'm going to get the President of the company to come stand in front of a "Project Accomplished" banner in front of my cube.

Posted by: briwei at April 26, 2007 12:54 PM

Actually, if Word would pop up a "Mission Accomplished!" confirmation message every time I saved my file, it'd be a huge morale-booster. Soon I'd be saving my file just for the thrill of that little reinforcement.

Posted by: Julie at April 26, 2007 1:33 PM

Julie - there must be a plug in for that! Or maybe you have to upgrade...

Posted by: briwei at April 26, 2007 8:06 PM

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