So what? The Iraq War at Five

I don’t normally look to the late night pop icons of court jester politics for insight or deep wisdom on national affairs (like about a quarter of the nation’s youth), but, Jon Stewart’s rendition of the last five years in Iraq was too close to home to pass up, I’m afraid. Notice how if we go backwards, Bush’s policy makes sense, at least to him. This threads nicely with the last post here. We could laugh if it weren’t so true.

The quotes are rich in their factual and moral bankruptcy. This history needs to be remembered…as do the polyanish politicos and pundits.

Remember all the right people that got it wrong on Iraq?

Let’s take another romp down memory hole lane to see media complicity in the current state of affairs. It’s long, but worth repeating below in addition to linking the original media research from the FAIR piece above.

‘The Final Word Is Hooray!’
Remembering the Iraq War’s Pollyanna pundits


Weeks after the invasion of Iraq began, Fox News Channel host Brit Hume delivered a scathing speech critiquing the media’s supposedly pessimistic assessment of the Iraq War.

“The majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong,” Hume complained in the April 2003 speech (Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/25/04). “They didn’t get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong.”

Hume was perhaps correct-but almost entirely in the opposite sense. Days or weeks into the war, commentators and reporters made premature declarations of victory, offered predictions about lasting political effects and called on the critics of the war to apologize. Three years later, the Iraq War grinds on at the cost of at least tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

Around the same time as Hume’s speech, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas declared (4/16/03): “All of the printed and voiced prophecies should be saved in an archive. When these false prophets again appear, they can be reminded of the error of their previous ways and at least be offered an opportunity to recant and repent. Otherwise, they will return to us in another situation where their expertise will be acknowledged, or taken for granted, but their credibility will be lacking.”

Gathered here are some of the most notable media comments from the early days of the Iraq War.

Declaring Victory

“Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?”
(Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

“Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America’s unrivaled power and how best to use it.”
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

“Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention.”
(NPR’s Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

“Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics’ complaints.”
(Fox News Channel’s Tony Snow, 4/13/03)

“The only people who think this wasn’t a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington.”
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

“We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back.”
(Newsweek’s Howard Fineman-MSNBC, 5/7/03)

“We’re all neo-cons now.”
(MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

“The war was the hard part. The hard part was putting together a coalition, getting 300,000 troops over there and all their equipment and winning. And it gets easier. I mean, setting up a democracy is hard, but it is not as hard as winning a war.”
(Fox News Channel’s Fred Barnes, 4/10/03)

“Oh, it was breathtaking. I mean I was almost starting to think that we had become inured to everything that we’d seen of this war over the past three weeks; all this sort of saturation. And finally, when we saw that it was such a just true, genuine expression. It was reminiscent, I think, of the fall of the Berlin Wall. And just sort of that pure emotional expression, not choreographed, not stage-managed, the way so many things these days seem to be. Really breathtaking.”
(Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly, appearing on Fox News Channel on 4/9/03, discussing the pulling down of a Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad, an event later revealed to have been a U.S. military PSYOPS operation-Los Angeles Times, 7/3/04)

Mission Accomplished?

“The war winds down, politics heats up…. Picture perfect. Part Spider-Man, part Tom Cruise, part Ronald Reagan. The president seizes the moment on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific.”
(PBS’s Gwen Ifill, 5/2/03, on George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech)

“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 Mondale, all 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. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits.”
(MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, 5/1/03)

“He looked like an alternatively commander in chief, rock star, movie star, and one of the guys.”
(CNN’s Lou Dobbs, on Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech, 5/1/03)

Neutralizing the Opposition

“Why don’t the damn Democrats give the president his day? He won today. He did well today.”
(MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

“What’s he going to talk about a year from now, the fact that the war went too well and it’s over? I mean, don’t these things sort of lose their-Isn’t there a fresh date on some of these debate points?”
(MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, speaking about Howard Dean-4/9/03)

“If image is everything, how can the Democratic presidential hopefuls compete with a president fresh from a war victory?”
(CNN’s Judy Woodruff, 5/5/03)

“It is amazing how thorough the victory in Iraq really was in the broadest context….. And the silence, I think, is that it’s clear that nobody can do anything about it. There isn’t anybody who can stop him. The Democrats can’t oppose-cannot oppose him politically.”
(Washington Post reporter Jeff Birnbaum- Fox News Channel, 5/2/03)

Nagging the “Naysayers”

“Now that the war in Iraq is all but over, should the people in Hollywood who opposed the president admit they were wrong?”
(Fox News Channel’s Alan Colmes, 4/25/03)

“I doubt that the journalists at the New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks.”
(MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, 4/9/03)

“I’m waiting to hear the words ‘I was wrong’ from some of the world’s most elite journalists, politicians and Hollywood types…. I just wonder, who’s going to be the first elitist to show the character to say: ‘Hey, America, guess what? I was wrong’? Maybe the White House will get an apology, first, from the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. Now, Ms. Dowd mocked the morality of this war….

“Do you all remember Scott Ritter, you know, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector who played chief stooge for Saddam Hussein? Well, Mr. Ritter actually told a French radio network that — quote, ‘The United States is going to leave Baghdad with its tail between its legs, defeated.’ Sorry, Scott. I think you’ve been

chasing the wrong tail, again.

“Maybe disgraced commentators and politicians alike, like Daschle, Jimmy Carter, Dennis Kucinich, and all those others, will step forward tonight and show the content of their character by simply admitting what we know already: that their wartime predictions were arrogant, they were misguided and they were dead wrong. Maybe, just maybe, these self-anointed critics will learn from their mistakes. But I doubt it. After all, we don’t call them ‘elitists’ for nothing.”
(MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, 4/10/03)

“Over the next couple of weeks when we find the chemical weapons this guy was amassing, the fact that this war was attacked by the left and so the right was so vindicated, I think, really means that the left is going to have to hang its head for three or four more years.”
(Fox News Channel’s Dick Morris, 4/9/03)

“This has been a tough war for commentators on the American left. To hope for defeat meant cheering for Saddam Hussein. To hope for victory meant cheering for President Bush. The toppling of Mr. Hussein, or at least a statue of him, has made their arguments even harder to defend. Liberal writers for ideologically driven magazines like The Nation and for less overtly political ones like The New Yorker did not predict a defeat, but the terrible consequences many warned of have not happened. Now liberal commentators must address the victory at hand and confront an ascendant conservative juggernaut that asserts United States might can set the world right.”
(New York Times reporter David Carr, 4/16/03)

“Well, the hot story of the week is victory…. The Tommy Franks-Don Rumsfeld battle plan, war plan, worked brilliantly, a three-week war with mercifully few American deaths or Iraqi civilian deaths…. There is a lot of work yet to do, but all the naysayers have been humiliated so far…. The final word on this is, hooray.”
(Fox News Channel’s Morton Kondracke, 4/12/03)

“Some journalists, in my judgment, just can’t stand success, especially a few liberal columnists and newspapers and a few Arab reporters.”
(CNN’s Lou Dobbs, 4/14/03)

“Sean Penn is at it again. The Hollywood star takes out a full-page ad out in the New York Times bashing George Bush. Apparently he still hasn’t figured out we won the war.”
(MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, 5/30/03)


“This will be no war — there will be a fairly brief and ruthless military intervention…. The president will give an order. [The attack] will be rapid, accurate and dazzling…. It will be greeted by the majority of the Iraqi people as an emancipation. And I say, bring it on.”
(Christopher Hitchens, in a 1/28/03 debate- cited in the Observer, 3/30/03)

“I will bet you the best dinner in the gaslight district of San Diego that military action will not last more than a week. Are you willing to take that wager?”
(Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, 1/29/03)

“It won’t take weeks. You know that, professor. Our military machine will crush Iraq in a matter of days and there’s no question that it will.”
(Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, 2/10/03)

“There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way. They may bomb for a matter of weeks, try to soften them up as they did in Afghanistan. But once the United States and Britain unleash, it’s maybe hours. They’re going to fold like that.”
(Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, 2/10/03)

“He [Saddam Hussein] actually thought that he could stop us and win the debate worldwide. But he didn’t-he didn’t bargain on a two- or three week war. I actually thought it would be less than two weeks.”
(NBC reporter Fred Francis, Chris Matthews Show, 4/13/03)

Weapons of Mass Destruction

NPR’s Mara Liasson: Where there was a debate about whether or not Iraq had these weapons of mass destruction and whether we can find it…

Brit Hume: No, there wasn’t. Nobody seriously argued that he didn’t have them beforehand. Nobody.
(Fox News Channel, April 6, 2003)

“Speaking to the U.N. Security Council last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell made so strong a case that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is in material breach of U.N. resolutions that only the duped, the dumb and the desperate could ignore it.”
(Cal Thomas, syndicated column, 2/12/03)

“Saddam could decide to take Baghdad with him. One Arab intelligence officer interviewed by Newsweek spoke of ‘the green mushroom’ over Baghdad-the modern-day caliph bidding a grotesque bio-chem farewell to the land of the living alongside thousands of his subjects as well as his enemies. Saddam wants to be remembered. He has the means and the demonic imagination. It is up to U.S. armed forces to stop him before he can achieve notoriety for all time.”
(Newsweek, 3/17/03)

“Chris, more than anything else, real vindication for the administration. One, credible evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Two, you know what? There were a lot of terrorists here, really bad guys. I saw them.”
(MSNBC reporter Bob Arnot, 4/9/03)

“Even in the flush of triumph, doubts will be raised. Where are the supplies of germs and poison gas and plans for nukes to justify pre-emption? (Freed scientists will lead us to caches no inspectors could find.) What about remaining danger from Baathist torturers and war criminals forming pockets of resistance and plotting vengeance? (Their death wish is our command.)”
(New York Times’ William Safire, 4/10/03)


This advisory mistakenly included an out-of-context quote from William Raspberry’s April 14, 2003 Washington Post column. FAIR’s advisory inaccurately presented Raspberry’s column as an example of overly optimistic pundit commentary about the invasion of Iraq. Contrary to FAIR’s presentation, Raspberry’s column called attention to and rejected the same sort of premature triumphalism and marginalization of critics that was the subject of FAIR’s media advisory. FAIR should have presented the Raspberry column as an exceptional example of a media figure challenging the conventional wisdom early in the Iraq War.

FAIR sincerely regrets the error and offers an apology to William Raspberry and to our readers.

Also in the advisory, the Tony Snow item originally dated 4/27/03 has been corrected to 4/13/03.

But, in defense of the wrong, according to most politicos and pundits, in retrospect, from the Monday morning quarterback chair, everyone got it wrong, so, no biggie. Yet the mainstream press continues to herald those in the wrong as experts.

However, as former UN inspector and U.S. Marine Scott Ritter reminds us in 2004, NOT EVERYBODY got it wrong.

Indeed, what a tall tale was told to the public on Iraq, WMD, 9/11 and Saddam and Bin Laden, on and on. And where are these really wrong pundits and politicos today? Fired? Demoted? Disgraced? Mea Culpa-ed? No. As NBC illustrated in the link above. You may know, too, as we see them still as experts, sometimes everyday, telling us how it isn’t again and again.

America is in a Truth Emergency. We are adrift in falsities. We are at a tipping point. We can tip in different directions. One toward fascism, the other toward more representative democracy (and in the U.S., the other many utopian avenues are unfortunately on hold in appears, though not by my choice- this is not at all a tacit endorsement of any Democratic candidate for November of 2008, either). We need to wake up and reclaim our place recreating a more just society. We need to demand justice and
rule of law or all else is meaningless. Exhibit A, ad infinitum- Election fraud, 9/11 cover up, endless war, spreading empire, torture, immigration and environmental racism, the Katrina failures, the private for profit prison population, outsourcing, the destruction of the middle class, further oppression of the working poor, whittling of the commons, more media monopoly, the subprime scam, Wall Street bailouts at taxpayer expense, mass overspending and national indebtedness, clear skies but no clear skies, no child left behind what’s already the end of the line, water scarcity, global warming, no habeas corpus, privatization of everything, an end to the American experiment justifies the means of the corporatist class, and on and on it goes. The ruse is on. Choose your tragedy turned comedy of errors now status quo late night elixir for what ails us all. The End of America. So, the time is nigh for a new path. Again, Naomi Wolf:

As has been stated by many wise folks, become the change you seek in the world. And one place to start is by controlling your own information and knowledge: For starters, Be the Media!

And to see how Americans reacted to VP Cheney’s “So” moment, see the latest PIPA poll piece with a link to the actual poll data. Only 18% of Americans think the VP was right to not care about public opinion and majority rule (though that is still alarming). Still further evidence of how far decayed our republic has become.

What to do? Stay informed. Stay in touch. Knowledge is power! To learn more about what you’re not being told by the corporate press, don’t just rely on late night jokers to learn about what’s going on…see Project Censored’s new updated website for a light to shine on the darkness. Only together armed with the truth can we turn things around.

To be continued…

Vox Populi


This says it all…VP DC in action. Commenting on American democracy and the theoretical role of the majority in public opinion on government policy, the VP, in disagreement with the current 64% majority of the public against the Iraq War, says, “So?” The public is just a meaningless, fickle obstacle. Unless the public is used (when manipulated by corporate media administration cheerleaders) to agree with official propaganda, in which case the VP is merely following the wishes of the people (and their manufactured consent on nonexistent WMDs and false connections between Hussein, 9/11, and Al Qaeda). Watch the live footage and see the link:

Got Democracy?

Truly amazing. Over 4,000 dead Americans and over a million Iraqis. The bulk of the American people, and the world for that matter, want the U.S. to step aside from the mess the illegal invasion created in Iraq. Second in charge, runner up to the leader of the free world replies: So? So. So, Dick won’t be “blown off course” by the realities of a democracy he allegedly serves. The Iraqis should be heartened by such a regal display of egalitarian prowess and ringing endorsement of government of, by, and for the people coming from one of those leading their occupation, I mean liberation. Let them eat Cakewalk. Are we winning the hearts and minds yet, anywhere? Is impeachment still off the table, Madame Speaker?

Catching Up…

So many things have happened in the past month or so, it’s been hard to keep up. Not just on the home front with tenured apps, committee work, meetings, conference follow-ups (with an update soon at, and the rest.

But many other things have also been happening, say, with the primaries, the non-selection horse race that it is; record violence in Iraq and Gaza; a major industrial agro meat recall; FCC shenanigans with further deregulating corporate ownership in local markets; the subprime crash hitting home, literally; the new recession; possible public pesticide spraying in the SF Bay Area for a non-existent alleged pest in the LIght Brown Apple Moth; tax time for the illegal IRS; possible $3 trillion + price tag for the Iraq and Afghan wars; telecom immunity for domestic spying c/o the Bushies; South American unrest and mobilizing attacks against Venezuela; the end of Castro; the forgetting of New Orleans; FBI admission of abuse of access to American citizens’ communication and private information as well as subpoenas; acknowledgement and rationalization for illegal torture tactics by the current administration; kangaroo court tribunals for alleged 9/11 conspirators; lobbyists’ continued corruption of the governing process; the death of a conservative icon that bucked (or Buckley-ed) the neocons; an Oscar for a film bought out by Disney, “Taxi to the Dark Side” for those that didn’t know, that WON’T be distributed or shown for two years (that proves more use of torture by the U.S.); and on and on and on and on and on. I could have had a 100 blog entires…but there is only this one. I’ll do better in the future. What one we may have…there is much afoot and now is a very interesting time to be alive. We should celebrate that…

Perhaps we could use some encouraging words from history, from another time of strife, one that necessitated change and yielded such for many in ways never dreamed. We could do it again-

Published on Tuesday, March 4, 2008 by the Brattleboro Reformer (Vermont)
Roosevelt: Words That Inspired

Seventy-five years ago, our nation was in the midst of one of the most dangerous and troubled periods in its history.

In March 1933, about 15 million Americans — 1 in 4 workers — were unemployed. Five million American families — 1 in 7 — were barely surviving on an inadequate patchwork of private charity and public relief.

In the little more than three years since the stock market crash of October 1929, more than 4,600 banks had failed. On March 3, 1933, a “bank holiday” was declared across the country and every remaining bank was either closed or about to be. The American economy was at a complete standstill.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt stood on the steps of the Capitol at noon, 75 years ago today, to take the oath of office as the 33rd President of the United States, a nation — and the world — was hanging on his every word. Never before or since had so much been riding on an inaugural address.

“This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper,” Roosevelt began. “So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

With those words, Roosevelt calmly outlined the depths of the crisis facing America and appealed to Americans not to lose faith in themselves or their nation.

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money,” he said. “It lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

Roosevelt called for a greater role for government than had ever been seen before, and for more collective effort than had ever been seen before in peacetime in America. At a time when some openly speculated whether our nation would be better off under communism or fascism, Roosevelt never lost his faith in democracy.

“If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other,” he said. “We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.”

“Millions of his countrymen were anxious, and hungry, and afraid,” wrote Harry Hopkins, one of Roosevelt’s key advisors, in 1946. “With that one speech, and in those few minutes, the appalling anxiety and fears were lifted, and the people of the United States knew that they were going into a safe harbor under the leadership of a man who never knew the meaning of fear.”

But words always need to be followed by deeds.

What followed Roosevelt’s words were 100 days of the most intense legislative effort ever seen in Congress.

Within 36 hours of his inauguration, Roosevelt took control of the nation’s currency and banking system and called Congress into a special session to deal with the many crises — shuttered factories, abandoned farms and millions of broke, unemployed Americans who could not find work anywhere.

Much of what came to be known as the New Deal was forged in those 100 days that followed Roosevelt’s inaugural speech. There was a whirlwind of activity and not every program was successful. But when something didn’t work, he tried something else. Through it all, he spoke honestly and directly to the American people and let them know what was happening and why.

The New Deal could be seen as the backlash to the rampant speculation of the 1920s and the conservative belief that a free market will always do the right thing. Experience tells us that it rarely happens that way. Roosevelt saved capitalism from itself, but the capitalists always resented him for it. Conservatives still scoff at the idea of the common good.

For the past 30 years, conservatives have tried to discredit Roosevelt’s idea that government should act as a countervailing force to protect ordinary people from the harsh extremes of capitalism.

Now, as we watch rapacious free marketeers engage in behavior that would make the robber barons of the 19th century envious and watch the economy sink toward recession, we can see that the balance between public purpose and private gain needs to be restored.

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much,” Roosevelt said in his second inaugural address. “It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

That approach to government was Roosevelt’s greatest legacy, and even after 75 years of attacks from conservatives, that legacy still shines brightly.

As historian Henry Steele Commager wrote after Roosevelt’s death, “Under the New Deal, the noble term ‘commonwealth’ was given a more realistic meaning than ever before in our history.”

Indeed, we all ought consider the possibilities of enjoying as well as protecting that which is the commonwealth. We should celebrate what we can and continue to move ahead. We should seek the truth as a process, one which leads to a better world for all of us.

More soon…cheers for now.