Tags: Fly | That | Banner!

Fly That Banner!

Tuesday, 28 September 2004 12:00 AM

But America’s mission in Iraq and Afghanistan is no less valid today than it was on its first day. A stern reaffirmation of America’s military strength and the moral purposes for which it is rightly being used was not out of place then, or is it now.

America’s enemies, who hated America before it liberated Iraq and will hate America after it leaves Iraq, are overdue for a punishing, decisive, terminal dose of American power. And Americans are entitled to a refreshing breeze of patriotic fervor.

Instead of skittering away from the “Mission Accomplished” banner and the president’s landing on the carrier, the Bush campaign should be replaying those scenes with added vigor.

Absolutely, this defies conventional wisdom, but sometimes unconventional can be wiser, preemption better than crawfishing. Now is such a time – a time for banner-waving, not banner-blushing.

Think back to that day in May last year. The USS Abraham Lincoln, which played a key role in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, was steaming off San Diego. After 10 months at sea – the longest deployment of any U.S. carrier since the Vietnam War – the Lincoln was heading for its home port, Everett, Wash.

A “Mission Accomplished” banner was visible in the background as George W. Bush landed on the carrier, climbed from the plane and delivered a stirring message of congratulations to the crew, saluting also the rest of America’s armed forces for what they, too, had accomplished in Iraq.

The cheering, applauding sailors were thrilled to have their commander in chief make this personal appearance on their ship.

So impressive was the scene that leftist television commentators were sneering: “You can expect to see this footage cropping up in Bush’s reelection commercials in 2004.” They understood even then that it was an enormous plus for Bush, and it griped them no end.

While the leftist news media scurried to paint a different picture, the White House insisted the banner was the crew’s idea of a way to let the world know the Lincoln had just completed successfully its record deployment. The sign also got across the idea that American armed forces had crushed the military dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

Along with the huge majority of Americans, President Bush was gratified that the war in Iraq had at that point gone so well, so fast. In all of military history, there is no parallel for how much was accomplished, so swiftly, with so few casualties.

Bush was absolutely entitled to use that May 1, 2003, occasion to mark the “end of major operations” in Iraq – the phrase that Democrats have since flung gleefully back in his face.

But Bush also went out of his way at the time to make it clear that a long, difficult, different kind of war still lay ahead in Iraq: “The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth our every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done.” That’s the part that the political left – to which John Kerry has ransomed his political soul – dishonestly overlooks.

The moment Bush’s plane caught the wire, a tidal wave of patriotic enthusiasm swelled across this country. Americans, except for the leftists, were proud of what had been accomplished, proud of their troops, proud of their president.

That is still how most Americans feel today. If it’s not, then Bush can chuck his reelection campaign and recede lamely into history’s oblivion. That’s not going to happen, because that’s not the way it is.

This war in Iraq has not been a failure, and it won’t be a failure. It was a success 17 months ago, it’s a success today, and it’ll be a success long after election day.

Nothing captures that sense of American pride, of assured victory, more dramatically than the carrier landing and that banner.

Now that Democrats are trying to wrap the image of the president landing on that carrier deck around his neck, Republicans are missing a great opportunity to make a lot of lemonade right on until election day.

The American people who were with the president then are with him now, no matter what the opinion polls purport to show one way or another.

Patriotic Americans deserve a morale boost. What better symbol to give them of patriotic accomplishment than the carrier footage? It still sends chills of pride up your spine. Unless you lack one.

So, in winning politics what do you do when symbols appear to turn sour? You swivel them right around again and use them against the opposition. After all, that’s what Democrats have tried to do with Bush’s banner.

Bush should do precisely what his news-media detractors were so worried he would do: Dust off that carrier-landing footage, banner and all, and present it with pride all over television.

That’s right, throw that spirit of patriotism in the faces of the carpers, the critics and the cringers.

Would John Kerry accuse the president of using the war in Iraq to enhance his reelection? You bet he would. He already has, even as his own commercials ballyhoo his questionable military service in Vietnam, despite his perfidy after skedaddling from the field of battle.

And don’t think the American people cannot see through the hypocrisy.

Will the leftist news media jump on Bush for this? You bet they will, and that will only help to reinforce the president’s message.

They cannot denigrate that carrier landing without also denigrating every member of the American armed services who helped, and is still helping, to make the war in Iraq a victorious cause.

Let the leftists take their rightful place in the seat of the scorners, exposed as apologists and cheerleaders for America’s enemies.

George W. Bush should point with pride to what he – along with most of the American nation – accomplished, and are still accomplishing in Iraq.

So, fly that flag! Unfurl that banner! Roll that beautiful Bush footage!

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But America's mission in Iraq and Afghanistan is no less valid today than it was on its first day. A stern reaffirmation of America's military strength and the moral purposes for which it is rightly being used was not out of place then, or is it now. America's enemies, who...
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2004-00-28
Tuesday, 28 September 2004 12:00 AM
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