Cartoons and more on Bush's Top Gun Photo Op
I've posted before about the hypocrisy of a man who avoided service in Vietnam sending other people's kids off to die for oil. Now, after hundreds of American and thousands of Iraqi lives (and billions of dollars needed for healthcare and education, etc) have been lost in a supposed hunt for weapons of mass destruction that may not exist... Bush dons a flight suit and helmet, ready to appear on newspaper front pages under the headline "Top Gun." Election 2004, here we come. (For photos, see Robert's Virtual Soapbox).
This was such a disgusting display that it prompted Story Minute cartoonist Carol Lay to scrap her usual multi-panel format and do this instead. See also: Lalo Alcaraz, Signe Wilkinson, Tony Auth, Jeff Danziger, and Steve Sack. And, of course, Paul Krugman ("Man on Horseback"):
U.S. television coverage ranged from respectful to gushing. Nobody pointed out that Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition. And nobody seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience. (Spare me the hate mail. An exhaustive study by The Boston Globe found no evidence that Mr. Bush fulfilled any of his duties during that missing year. And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news.)Oh yeah, and don't forget the economy, says Bob Herbert.
Anyway, it was quite a show. Luckily for Mr. Bush, the frustrating search for Osama bin Laden somehow morphed into a good old-fashioned war, the kind where you seize the enemy's capital and get to declare victory after a cheering crowd pulls down the tyrant's statue. (It wasn't much of a crowd, and American soldiers actually brought down the statue, but it looked great on TV.)
Let me be frank. Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don't qualify — though we haven't found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn't waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration's lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq's main nuclear waste dump wasn't secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?
Well, Mr. Bush got to pose in his flight suit. And given the absence of awkward questions, his handlers surely feel empowered to make even more brazen use of the national security issue in future.
Next year — in early September — the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?
Not exactly shocking update: White House basically admits plane flight was just to make Bush feel like a big boy
From the Washington Post ("Explanation for Bush's Carrier Landing Altered "):
President Bush chose to make a jet landing on an aircraft carrier last week even after he was told he could easily reach the ship by helicopter, the White House said yesterday, changing the explanation it gave for Bush's "Top Gun" style event.Oh, please. If the man really cared so much about the troops, he wouldn't have sent them off to die in his preemptive war in the first place. The man wanted a photo opportunity, plain and simple:
Bush's televised landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, for which the president wore a flight suit and a helmet and took underwater survival training in the White House swimming pool, was the dramatic start to a visit to the carrier that included an air show and a televised speech to the nation. In his address, the president declared victory in Iraq in front of cheering sailors and a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished."
White House officials had said, both before and after Bush's landing in a Navy S-3B Viking jet, that he took the plane solely to avoid inconveniencing the sailors, who were returning home after a deployment of nearly 10 months.
Bush wanted "to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said yesterday. "He wanted to see it as realistically as possible. And that's why, once the initial decision was made to fly out on the Viking, even when a helicopter option became doable, the president decided instead he wanted to still take the Viking."But too little, too late. This article was likely buried in the back pages of relatively few papers (I got the link via This Modern World), while the Top Gun photo op made front page news everywhere.