Five years ago this day, President Bush executed a landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, following the exploit with a speech delivered before a banner reading "Mission Accomplished". The speech proclaimed the end of combat operations.
In commemoration of this august occasion, Clark Stooksbury treats the reader to a selection of delectable quotes, which adjudge Bush to be one of our greatest Presidents, and express the hope that other similar deeds of world-historical greatness will be performed throughout the Near East. It wasn't, though, merely the Respectable Right which swooned that day, but the media much more generally, as Leon Hadar reminds us. Kool-Aid was an exceedingly popular commodity in those days, which demonstrates that the hubris and hegemonism the left would like to pin on Bush and the Republicans is a bipartisan phenomenon, the veritable world-image of the establishment.
Only the far left (and this perhaps incidentally; in politics, one can begin with dodgy premises and yet arrive at the correct conclusions) and the so-called unpatriotic conservatives possessed both conviction and prescience, the latter ridiculed at the time as the oldthought of those who could not grasp that Bush's bold policies created their own realities. Frum himself was shortly to retreat from the implications of his own malodorous effusion, effectively defining a lack of patriotism down into mere defeatism, a euphemism meaning 'skepticism concerning the wisdom and prudence of administration policies, and their prospects of success.' There was something inadvertently prophetic in that elision, something all too characteristic of what the Respectable Right became in the Bush years, when one's loyalty to, and love of, country could be deconstructed because one opposed government policy; government and country were identified; no, more than this, country and president were identified.
That carrier landing was profoundly symbolic, not only of the world-historical folly of an administration, but of the entire atmosphere of those times, in which support for the policies of one man (and the
machiavels advisors behind him) could be made a synecdoche for the country. What is disquieting is the realization that present distempers may not be due to the recognition of the folly of such things, but rather to the dispelling of the illusion. We relish that Kool-Aid, and resent mornings-after for coming.