“Mission Revisited”: The Columbia Journalism Review Weighs In

Mission Revisited

Pundits paved the way to “Mission Accomplished”

On May 1, 2003, President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and told the world: “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” The plans for securing and reconstructing weren’t so great, however, and we are five years down the road without a clear end in sight. On this anniversary, it seems worth remembering that part of the reason the president was not more strongly challenged on his assertions was a barrage of covering fire laid down by pundits. Here’s a sampler, from Mission Accomplished, a new Simon & Schuster paperback by Christopher Cerf, a writer and producer, and Victor Navasky, CJR’s chairman.

We expect every American to support our military, and if they can’t do that, to shut up. Americans, and indeed our allies, who actively work against our military once the war is under way will be considered enemies of the state by me. –Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Channel, February 26, 2003

The man who slept through many classes at Yale and partied the nights away stands revealed as a profound and great leader who will reshape the world for the better. The United States is lucky once again. –Mona Charen, syndicated columnist, March 23, 2003

The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war. –Fred Barnes, editor, The Weekly Standard, on Fox News, April 10, 2003

Every step of the way, they were lecturing us on how it wasn’t well thought out…we didn’t have enough troops there, it was going to be a quagmire. All of these thousands, according to naysayers, of troops are going to die….They’ve…made fools of themselves. –Sean Hannity, Hannity & Colmes, April 10, 2003

Coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics’ complaints. –Tony Snow, host of Fox News Sunday, April 13, 2003

The United States [has] committed itself…to reshaping the Middle East, so the region [will] no longer be a hotbed of terrorism, extremism, anti-Americanism, and weapons of mass destruction….the first two battles of this new era are now over. The battles of Afghanistan and Iraq have been won decisively and honorably. –William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, April 28, 2003

The war was so successful, [its critics] don’t have any arguments left….The biggest mishap liberals can seize on is that some figurines from an Iraqi museum were broken-a relief to college students everywhere who have ever been forced to gaze upon Mesopotamia pottery. –Ann Coulter, syndicated columnist, April 30, 2003

It ended quickly with few civilian casualties and with little damage to Iraq’s cities, towns, or infrastructure….It ended without the quagmire [war critics] predicted….Iraqis are freer today and we are safer. Relax and enjoy it. –Richard Perle, member of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, in USA Today, May 1, 2003

CJR

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One response to ““Mission Revisited”: The Columbia Journalism Review Weighs In

  1. Joseph C. Ferguson

    Thank you Cerf and Navasky for giving us a fun way to cherish our great American experts. It occurs to me that these experts may represent America’s fastest growing industry — creative punditry in support of our most profitable export. These experts represent that great American tradition of recognizing a money-making opportunity and going after it on its sole merit of being profitable. In an era when the Vice President has openly admitted we’ve “gone to the dark side” they’ve raised pandering-to-Americans’-dark-side-for-profit to an art form. Let’s have fun with it!

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