Who will be the last to die?


We've got a new Think Again column called "Pentagon Propaganda and the Media Stonewall," and a new Nation column, "Mickey Mouse Media."

On the fifth anniversary of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech, let's roll back the tape and recall the media's equally impressive performance on that day. From Why We're Liberals, there's this:

[G.Gordon Liddy to Chris Matthews:] "After all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know -- and I've worn those because I parachute -- and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those -- run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count -- they're all liars. Check that out."

Much of the analysis of Bush in his phony flight suit focused on related issues that were barely less juvenile, but equally telling:

  • Chris Matthews: "That's the president looking very much like a jet, you know, a high-fl ying jet star. A guy who is a jet pilot. Has been in the past when he was younger, obviously. . . . He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. . . . Here's a president who's really nonverbal. He's like Eisenhower. He looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West."
  • Chris Matthews: "We're proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton or even like Dukakis or those guys, McGovern. They want a guy who's president. Women like a guy who's president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president."
  • Ann Coulter to Matthews: "It's stunning. It's amazing. I think it's huge. I mean, he's landing on a boat at 150 miles per hour. It's tremendous. It's hard to imagine any Democrat being able to do that. And it doesn't matter if Democrats try to ridicule it. It's stunning, and it speaks for itself."
  • Brian Williams: "And two immutable truths about the president that the Democrats can't change: He's a youthful guy. He looked terrific and full of energy in a flight suit. He is a former pilot, so it's not a foreign art form to him. Not all presidents could have pulled this scene off today."
  • Morton Kondracke: "That was great theater."
  • David Broder: The president's "physical posture" communicated "authority and command."
  • Joe Klein: "That was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me. And it just shows you how high a mountain these Democrats are going to have to climb."
  • Laura Ingraham: "Speaking as a woman, and listening to the women who called into my radio show, seeing President Bush get out of that plane, carrying his helmet, he is a real man. He stands by his word. That was a very powerful moment."

The surge is a success! The death toll in Iraq in April reached its highest level since late last year. The four U.S. soldiers who were killed yesterday increased the total military deaths in April to 50, a seven-month high. In addition, the Iraqi government reported that 969 civilians died last month, the highest since August.

The Media are a success: "The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with a poll that shows only 27 percent of voters view the Republican Party in a positive light, which amounts to "the lowest level for either party in the survey's nearly two-decade history." The interesting part of this is that despite these negative numbers, and the fact that a majority of voters would rather see a Democrat in the White House, Sen. John McCain remains in a statistical dead heat with the two Democratic contenders." If they can only keep the news that McCain is in fact a Republican, who voted with Bush 95 percent of the time in 2007, they can continue to Support the Surge!

Charlie Rangel drives a Caddy paid for by taxpayers so that his constituents in Harlem can feel good about themselves. Didn't I see this on The Wire?

George Zornick writes:

In today's Think Again column, we note NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' response, on his blog, to the Pentagon's propaganda program involving retired military officials. Williams wrote that the two military "analysts" featured on his program "never gave what I considered to be the party line," and were "tough, honest critics." Just for nostalgia's sake, let's look back to Williams' discussion with retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey five years ago today -- May 1, 2003, also known as "Mission Accomplished" day:

WILLIAMS: Let's talk politics. And to be candid about it, you know of the war going on inside the Pentagon. Secretary Rumsfeld has always believed this military can do things faster, can be lighter on its feet, and I -- I'm quite convinced he will find this conflict as evidence to bolster his argument. Do you find merit in that?

McCAFFREY: Oh, yeah, sure. No, look, the -- you know, each generation we have to look ahead and sort out what the next set of conflicts will be and what the technology allows us to do. At the end of the day, you go back to winning wars on the ground with soldiers and Marines and Rangers and Special Ops. But the way we fight these wars, first of all, it's situational. You know, if there's no trees and it's Iraqis, you go about it one way. If it's a million-man North Korean army, you go about it another way. But properly, transformation of the military services is something we're going to examine very closely, and hopefully the Congress will be actively involved in it. People like Senator Chuck Hagel, Congressman Rod Portman, Denny Hastert and others, who know what they're talking about, that's their role to define the future armed forces.

Williams also mentioned that day "two immutable truths about the president that the Democrats can't change: He's a youthful guy. He looked terrific and full of energy in a flight suit. He is a former pilot, so it's not a foreign art farm -- art form to him. Not all presidents could have pulled this scene off today." What Williams didn't mention was that McCaffrey served on the "Committee for the Liberation of Iraq," and is "on the board of Mitretek, Veritas Capital and two Veritas companies, Raytheon Aerospace and Integrated Defense Technologies -- all of which have multimillion-dollar government defense contracts." The more you know ...

McCain Suck-up Watch, this-is-really-getting-old edition: "The AP reported that 'Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a 2006 bill, sponsored by Republican candidate John McCain, that offered illegal immigrants legal status on conditions such as learning English.' But the AP did not note that McCain has reversed his position on comprehensive immigration legislation and said in January that he would no longer support his own bill." Here.

And here: "The New York Times' Carl Hulse reported that congressional Republicans 'worry just what a President McCain would portend for them come January, given their divergent views on big-ticket items like immigration, climate change and campaign spending.' But Hulse did not note that McCain has moved to the right on immigration to align himself more closely with his party's base, nor did he mention that McCain may be violating campaign finance laws by surpassing spending limits under the public financing system for the primary period."

This week in James Bond:

I saw Goldfinger the other day at the Ziegfeld. I thought this was a pretty good line:

BOND (waking up on private plane after being drugged, greeted by beautiful pilot): Who are you?


BOND: I must be dreaming ...

Then someone sent me a Bond joke. I didn't know they existed:

007 walks into a bar and takes a seat next to a very attractive woman. He gives her a quick glance, then casually looks at his watch for a moment.

The woman notices this and asks, "Is your date running late?"

"No", he replies, "I am here alone. Q has just given me this state-of-the-art watch and I was just testing it."

The intrigued woman says, "A state-of-the-art watch? What's so special about it?"

"It uses alpha waves to telepathically talk to me," he explains.

"What's it telling you now?"

"Well, it says you're not wearing any panties ..."

The woman giggles and replies, "Well, it must be broken because I am wearing panties!"

007 taps, taps his watch ...

and says "Damn thing must be an hour fast."

This week on Moyers:

Bill Moyers Journal profiles the fight the California Nurses Association (CNA) has been waging over universal health care. "There shouldn't be a double standard," says Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA. "We, as the public, pay for Dick Cheney's care ... why is the government not providing the same type of care to all Americans?" Also on the program, five years after the president declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, Bill Moyers interviews Victor S. Navasky and Christopher Cerf about their latest book, Mission Accomplished, described as a "hilarious but depressing compilation of experts who were in error about the war in Iraq." Media and politics expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson analyzes the latest from the presidential campaign. And Bill Moyers reflects on Jeremiah Wright.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Will
Hometown: Chicago

Number of days CNN.com has featured the story of the Austrian incest family: 4

Number of people affected by this story: 3

Number of stories in CNN.com about the Pentagon using generals to bamboozle the American public: zero

Number of people affected: over 3,000 dead US soldiers and tens of thousands injured. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead or injured.

That's our librul media in perspective.

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

When running for president, candidates need to be aware and worry about people they are connected to in any way. Obama's connection to Rev. Wright has caused a lot of problems for the Senator. Maybe it shouldn't, but it has. But since the media is so intense on examining a candidates connection to someone who might not be very popular nation wide, why not start examining Maverick's connections with the current president. I seem to remember the Straight Talk Express doing a great deal of campaigning for President Bush in 2004. Maybe start there. Certainly a candidates ties to an unpopular president, and his aid in making sure this unpopular president was able to serve 8 years and not only four, is more telling of the type of person a presidential candidate is then what someone's reverend might have said.

Name: Virginia
Hometown: Falls Church, VA.

Randy Jewett has a great idea for Obama to wear a Liberty Bell lapel pin. As good or better would be a reproduction of the first page of the Constitution, emphasizing those bold words "We the People."

I've argued for years that we should scrap the silly, meaningless Pledge of Allegiance and replace it with that beautifully succinct recital of America's purpose, the Preamble of the Constitution.

Name: Rob Stafford
Hometown: San Diego

Eric --

The Heartland Institute list of 500 scientists with documented doubts about Global Warming?

Turns out it's fake.

I love reality & its well known liberal bias.

Name: Elizabeth
Hometown: Bavaria

Absolutely Arianna is right about the boycott, and if you saw her on Real Time on HBO, you would understand why.

She kept driving in the message: and she was not for a minute distracted by Gary Shandling's embarrassing commentary; he came across as a dolt, sadly, while Arianna was polite and articulate, and informed.

Those simpleton proponents of flag-lapel-pin-wearing-controversy haven't a chance against her.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.