Friday, May 02, 2003
The junior partnership
Was the only ship
That I ever had seen.
--1st Lord of the Admiralty, Gilbert & Sullivan
Excepting brief Scott Peterson updates, the cable “news” networks are well into their second day of allowing the White House image polishers a free hand in producing the Bush at sea epic, HMS Bush’04.
Never before in the history of the United States has the party holding the White House so grievously manipulated the power and perks of the Presidency for such base political ends.
Breathless commentary sprinkled throughout nearly identical cable coverage yesterday heavily implied that “our brave President” was co-piloting or even piloting whatever craft it was that became his air transportation. That impression was further reinforced by his flight suit costume and the constant display of the erect First Thumb.
But, if I was appalled in the afternoon I was aghast by early evening.
Mr. Rove delights in presenting completely opposing ideas within the same context. Contradictory ideas such as the President not claiming victory in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner are certainly becoming signatures for the Bush administration. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Bush's visit to the carrier, which is headed toward San Diego, was the result of a week of meticulous planning by White House aides, eager to cement the president's image as a victorious commander in chief. Much of the stagecraft — including a banner reading "Mission Accomplished" — was reminiscent of a campaign appearance.
Officers even reduced the carrier's speed so that land would not be visible in the background as the president spoke.
With a United States Navy aircraft carrier’s Control Tower draped in a political banner and a crew bedecked fighter jet in the dusky pink background, the President’s interminable monotone was interrupted repeatedly with rapidly executed standing ovations by US Navy personnel more reminiscent of a Politburo meeting.
The obvious political use of the aircraft carrier, its crew and equipment by a White House was a historic first left off the giddy lists of Presidential Firsts uttered by so many wide eyed television presenters. A historically aware and free press certainly would have, at the very least, noted the potentially unseemly and historic alliance between a sitting White House and elements of the United States military needed to produce such an extravaganza as was witnessed yesterday evening.
It is worth noting that coverage yesterday of the developing friction (see Newsweek) between the White House and Congress over White House refusal to declassify the 800 page secret report of the Joint Congressional Investigation of 9/11 was minimal to nonexistent.
Photo: Don Tormey, LA Times