Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Estrich Feathers

Susan Estrich wants to have history her way.

Four years ago, after his triumphant landing on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the president, violating every superstitious rule my mother ever taught me about speaking too soon, announced that our mission was accomplished.

Captain Ed, among others, has put the stake into the heart of this meme, but it won't stay dead.

Today is the fourth anniversary of George Bush's speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln -- the one Democrats and anti-war activists call the "Mission Accomplished" speech. The crew of the carrier flew the banner because their mission had indeed been accomplished -- they had successfully supported the invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, and were returning to the United States. Instead, everyone has attributed the banner's message to George Bush.

He provides a passage from Bush's speech that day in which the President talks of the hard work still ahead:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated. We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

"Nowhere in this speech," the Captain notes, "did Bush declare that the war was over, nor that we could leave Iraq. In fact, he made it plain that we would stick by the Iraqi people and remain in place until they could establish a democratic government that could secure the nation."

It's also true that he didn't anticipate insurgency, four years of periodic chaos and daily instability, and sectarian violence. But to say, as Estrich does, that he "announced that our mission was accomplished" is, for want of a better term, a lie.

But since this is a column shipped over the wire by Creators Syndicate to their subscribers in the Molly Ivins line, it's not out of place.

And ultimately, in the column, it's not about Iraqis or American soldiers or even about George W. Bush. It's about her. Her feelings, her validation:

Four years later, like most Americans, I cannot think of my president without getting angry. But will anyone tell him?

All together, now: one, two, three, "Who Cares?"