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Clueless Bush, and Media, Take Bike Ride With Injured Vets on ‘Mission Accomplished Day’ | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Clueless Bush, and Media, Take Bike Ride With Injured Vets on ‘Mission Accomplished Day’

George W. Bush Mission Accomplished

Former President George W. Bush speaking on the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 (Reuters/Larry Downing)

The former disgraced President George W. Bush chose today—the eleventh anniversary of his “Mission Accomplished” photo op—to hold a bike ride for sixteen badly wounded (physically or mentally) veterans on his Crawford ranch where he once spent seemingly half his time in office (when he wasn’t starting wars).

I don’t know what’s worse—Bush’s cluelessness and lack of remorse or CNN’s reporting this story without a single word about Bush’s choosing to start a war based on lies. Bush hails the damaged vets for volunteering for military service—but he was the true war “volunteer.” They didn’t sign up for a war based fabrication and revenge and what-have-you.

One of the vets said he’d lost six buddies in Iraq and four others committed suicide after they returned home. Yet Bush called the bike ride a “joyous occasion” and a “festival.”

Here’s an apt comment at my blog Pressing Issues from someone ID’d only as “Mike.”

Just reading the story over at CNN about Bush’s bike ride at his Crawford ranch with sixteen wounded veterans from the George Bush wars. And as I read the story I saw this quote by Bush: “This is a festival, and it is a moment for others to see people who have been severely wounded say ‘I’m overcoming the consequence of my decision to volunteer.’”

I’m overcoming the consequence of my decision to volunteer?? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Somehow, that strikes me as one of the most clueless, heartless and ignorant statements this man has ever uttered. He simply cannot envision that these people have suffered and died because of him. In his mind, what happened to them was simply the result of THEIR decision to volunteer. Not the fact that he sent them in there knowing it was all based on a lie. This has to be one of the most narcissistic and unaware human beings on the face of the planet. He simply has a way of creating revulsion and disgust every time he opens his mouth.

Of course, media failures related to Bush and the war are nothing new.

Thursday marked the eleventh anniversary of Mission Accomplished Day. Sadly, it came amid more sectarian violence in Iraq—and further attempts at Bush revisionism upon the opening of his “art” show at his library.

In my favorite antiwar song of this war, “Shock and Awe,” Neil Young moans: “Back in the days of Mission Accomplished/ our chief was landing on the deck/ The sun was setting/ behind a golden photo op.” But as Neil added elsewhere in the tune: “History is a cruel judge of overconfidence.”

Nowhere can we see this more clearly than in the media coverage of the event. (Much more in my new e-book.)

On May 1, 2003, Richard Perle advised, in a USA Today op-ed, “Relax, Celebrate Victory.” The same day, President Bush, dressed in a flight suit, landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared an end to major military operations in Iraq—with the now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner arrayed behind him.

Chris Matthews on MSNBC called Bush a “hero” and boomed, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” He added: “Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple.”

PBS’ Gwen Ifill said Bush was “part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan.” On NBC, Brian Williams gushed, “The pictures were beautiful. It was quite something to see the first-ever American president on a—on a carrier landing.”

Bob Schieffer on CBS said: “As far as I’m concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time.” His guest, Joe Klein, responded: “Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me.”

Everyone agreed the Democrats and antiwar critics were now on the run. The New York Times observed, “The Bush administration is planning to withdraw most United States combat forces from Iraq over the next several months and wants to shrink the American military presence to less than two divisions by the fall, senior allied officials said today.”

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Maureen Dowd in her column declared: “Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

“He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics. Compared to Karl Rove’s ‘revvin’ up your engine’ myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer’s movies look like Lizzie McGuire.

“This time Maverick didn’t just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MiG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.”

When Bush’s jet landed on the aircraft carrier, American casualties stood at 139 killed and 542 wounded. That was more than 4,300 American, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, fatalities ago.

Greg Mitchell’s So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits and the President Failed on Iraq (with a preface by Bruce Springsteen) has now been published in an e-book edition.

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