Saturday, November 08, 2003

Bush's Pinocchio Moment: or We're all wearing the blue dress now

Bush's Pinocchio Moment: or We're all wearing the blue dress now

Now that it is painfully apparent that the mission in Iraq - whatever it is - is far from over, the President has disavowed what, at the time, was hailed as one of the most dramatic "photo ops" ever staged for an American politician.

"The ‘Mission Accomplished’ sign, of course, was put up by the members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, saying their mission was accomplished," Mr. Bush asserted during a Rose Garden news conference. "I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff. They weren’t that ingenious, by the way."

This surely was a Pinocchio moment for the President but, amazingly, his nose didn’t seem to grow one bit. And the White House press corps, polite to a fault, didn’t erupt in a well-deserved chant of "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"

Mr. Bush’s backpedaling also must have been news to his political staff, who had gleefully - and publicly - taken credit for orchestrating every element of the event, down to directing that the ship be turned so that winds were light and the backdrop for the speech was open ocean instead of the nearby skyline of San Diego.

In truth, the White House communications staff had approved the banner and produced it. The sailors hung it up, and the message to the world couldn’t have been clearer.