FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Meaning of "Mission Accomplished"

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

Remember when George Bush the candidate said he would restore integrity to the White House?

The reference, of course, was to the Clinton White House, which had gained a certain notoriety because of Bill Clinton’s famous finger-wagging episode, when he told the American public that “I did not have sex with that woman,” and for his later performance under grilling by Ken Starr, when he said his answer to a question depended on “what the definition of `is’ is.”

Bush, the Andover Prep grad who adopted a Texan drawl and the mein of a straight-shootin’ cowboy for the campaign, managed to convince a scandal-weary public that he wouldn’t stoop to such things. He’d tell it straight.

Of course, we’ve had some pretty big whoppers out of this White House, and this president since then. There was the Niger yellow cake tale, the supposed bio and chemical weapons in Iraq, and the lie that the president was flying around the country in Air Force One after the 9/11 attacks because of a supposed threat to attack Air Force One, for example. There was the lie that he’d fund Americorps. There was the lie that he would be the Education President. But the real classic, the lie that puts him right down there with Cheatin’ Bill, came at Bush’s last press conference.

That’s when he denied, in response to a reporter’s question, that the White House had been responsible for a big red, white and blue banner saying “Mission Accomplished,” placed prominently across the front of the superstructure of the carrier Abraham Lincoln on the occasion of Bush’s staged jet landing on the ship on May 1. It wasn’t the White House advance team that planned that backdrop, Bush told reporters and the viewing public with a straight face. It was those Navy lads on the ship. And by the way, that phrase didn’t refer to the War in Iraq, he continued. It referred to the ship’s mission. which was indeed over.

Uh-huh.

The White House was quickly forced to admit that in fact, not only was the banner and the slogan the White House’s idea; the White House had produced and delivered said banner to the ship in time t o have it mounted for the president’s landing stunt.

Of course the president knew this when he lied to the press about its pedigree.

But he was in a jam. George Bush is just not the kind of guy who likes to admit when he’s goofed.

As the guerrilla war heats up in Iraq, and the numbers of American dead mount, he “mission accomplished” line, like the “Bring ’em on” line, is returning to haunt him. But this time, instead of just showing him to be out of touch, we see the real character of the man. Caught in an embarrassing situation, he’d prefer to lie his way out than face up to his responsibility.

If he’d gone to law school instead of business school, Bush might have said it all depends upon what your definition of “mission” is. As it is, though, he’s stuck looking very much like the little boy with cookie crumbs on his lips who denies that he broke the cookie jar.

This incident could prove to be Bush’s undoing.

Americans are a cynical lot when it comes to politics. We know that the political class is basically a bunch of thieves and extortionists, but we expect their crimes and deceits to be of epic proportions. If a presidential candidate takes a million dollars from the pharmaceutical industry and then has the FDA grant extended patents to them, or takes millions from Boeing and then grants the aircraft maker a six-billion-dollar sweetheart lease on planes for the Pentagon it could have bought outright for much less, nobody gets worked up. That’s the way Washington works, we figure.

But tell a little lie, whether it’s about some nookie on the side or some questionable campaign trick, and people feel angry and insulted.

That’s what Bush has done now. In trying to blame his ineptness and false optimism concerning the Iraq War by laying it on the guys in the sailor suits, this son of privelege has insulted our intelligence. Worse yet, he got caught. Even rank-and-file Republicans are miffed.

As voters, we’re willing to forget many things. We’ll forget about the stealing of an election, about scandals like the doctoring of a report on global warming, even about the deliberate outing of a CIA agent. But we won’t forget being taken for yokels with a cheap lie.

If the gang of Democrats running for president are smart, they’ll start using the phrase “Mission Accomplished” as often as possible as a laughline in their speeches. If they do that, by the time the campaign for president is in full swing next fall, the Democratic presidential candidate will be able to run “Small Soldiers” ads featuring action figure George Bush strutting around in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail