Five Years After 'Mission Accomplished'
Thursday, May 1, 2008; 1:06 PM
Much has happened in the five years since President Bush flew aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in "Top Gun" style, stood under a banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished" and proudly declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended."
Five years ago, the national debt was $6.5 trillion. Now it's $9.3 trillion. Five years ago, your average gallon of gas cost $1.44. Now it costs $3.57. Five years ago, Bush's job-approval rating was at 70 percent. Now it's at 28.
Five years ago, Bush's appearance on the carrier was widely hailed as a brilliant PR move, imbuing the president with the aura of a conquering hero. Now, it's possibly the single most potent image of Bush's hubris.
Richard Sisk and James Gordon Meek write in the New York Daily News: "Five years after President Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' speech about Iraq, America's twin wars are looking more like 'Mission: Impossible.'
And as Sisk and Meek point out, it wasn't just victory in Iraq that Bush was celebrating prematurely: "In his Lincoln speech, the President also boasted: 'In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, many terrorists, and the camps where they trained.'
"Yet in 2007, a record 232 coalition troops died in that country, where the Taliban insurgency has expanded to every corner and Al Qaeda has 'reconstituted some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities,' a State Department report grimly stated Wednesday."