Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mission creep

Today's White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow contained the usual litany of straw men ("was Winston Churchill responsible for the Blitz?"), unintentional truths ("We need a sock puppet for this now"), groaning attempts at comedy ("Does Martha have a hip-hop ring tone? ... Play that funky music, white girl"), and an invitation --

MR. SNOW: ... You know that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was put up by members of the USS Abraham Lincoln [May 2003]. And the President, on that very speech, said just the opposite, didn't he? He said it was the end of major combat operations, but he did not say it was the end of operations. Instead, he cautioned people at the time that there would be considerable continued violence in Iraq, and that there would be continued operations for a long period of time. That single episode has been more widely mischaracterized than just about any aspect of the war.

Q We can debate whether the sign should have been there, whether the White House should have not had it there, but the fact is he stood under it and made the speech.

MR. SNOW: You're right, after people had been on a 17-month deployment, and had said "Mission Accomplished" when they're finally able to get back to their loved ones, the President didn't say, take down the sign, it will be bad. Instead what he did is he talked about the mission. And I would direct you back to the speech he gave then


So OK. Here's the speech. The accompanying photos are also worth a look, as the now infamous Mission Accomplished banner is essentially invisible. One interesting thing about the speech is its lip service to the remaining tasks in Iraq relative to the attention given to al Qaeda -- reflecting both Bush's packaging of Saddam as an ally of al Qaeda and the sense in 2003 that the war on terror was supposed to be against al Qaeda. Now it's against Shiite militias in Baghdad. It's been quite a journey.