Mission accomplished? There you go again

Asked whether Bush would stand in front of that banner today, McClellan says Democrats are rewriting history.


Tim Grieve
May 1, 2006 11:29PM (UTC)

Stephen Colbert said Saturday night that "reality has a well-known liberal bias," and we're guessing that this is the sort of thing he had in mind: A reporter asked Scott McClellan today to reflect on the third anniversary of the president's "Mission Accomplished" performance, and McClellan responded by saying that Democrats were trying to distort history.

How's that again?

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McClellan never said what he meant, exactly, and we can't even begin to imagine. In the version of history we reread today -- the one captured on the White House Web site -- it was Bush who declared on May 1, 2003, that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. It was Bush who tried to suggest later that his staff hadn't been responsible for putting the "Mission Accomplished" banner up as a backdrop for his speech. And it was McClellan who later admitted that the White House had, in fact, arranged for the banner to be made.

But it's the Democrats who are distorting and misrepresenting?

Apparently so. Here's the transcript from Think Progress:

Reporter: Scott, given the current situation in Iraq, what the president described today as havoc ... could he, would he, possibly stand under a sign that says "Mission Accomplished" today, as he did three years ago?

McClellan: Well, I think that there are some Democrats that refuse to recognize the important milestone achieved by the formation of a national unity government. And there's an effort simply to distract attention away from the real progress that is being made by misrepresenting and distorting the past. And that really does nothing to help advance our goal of achieving victory in Iraq.

Reporter: So, Scott, simply yes-or-no ... could the president stand under a sign today

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McClellan: No, see, this is a way that ...

Reporter: This has nothing to do with Democrats. I'm asking you ...

McClellan: Sure it does.

Reporter: based on reporter's curiosity: Could he stand under a sign again that says "Mission Accomplished"?

McClellan: Democrats have tried to raise this issue. And like I said, misrepresenting and distorting the past, which is what they are doing, does nothing to advance the goal of victory in Iraq.

Reporter: I mean, it's a historical fact that, you know, we're all taking note of ...

McClellan: Well, I think the focus ought to be on achieving victory in Iraq and the progress that's being made. And that's where it is. And you know exactly that Democrats are trying to distort the past.

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Reporter: Let me ask it another way: Has the mission been accomplished?

McClellan: Next question.

Reporter: Has the mission been accomplished?

McClellan: We are on the way to accomplishing the mission and achieving victory.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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