May 1, 2009
By Ric Albano
The president was at the absolute zenith of popularity as he made a 150 mph, tail-hook landing onto the deck USS Abraham Lincoln, a carrier returning home from combat missions in the Persian Gulf. He sat in the co-pilot’s seat of a Navy s-3B Viking fighter jet, clad in a well-fitting green flight suit. Although the landing itself was made by the seasoned Naval pilot, the president himself had piloted the jet for much of the trip from the mainland over the Pacific.
A pilot in the National Guard three decades earlier, the president had nonetheless prepared well for the flight on this day, even going so far as to train in the Navy’s “panic can” – a simulated cockpit that fills up with water, then spins around, while the person inside has to escape and come up for air (in other words, he subjected himself to what the Obama administration would later call “torture”).
As the president emerged from the fighter jet with helmet in hand, he held up both arms to the roaring approval of hundreds of sailors lining the observation deck. Becoming the first sitting president to make a landing in a fixed-wing aircraft on an aircraft carrier, was a remarkable image that further boasted President George W. Bush’s reputation. He was already viewed as the strong, post-9/11 hero that had secured the country from further attacks and was dissembling the middle-east cesspool of dictators and regimes that spawned, tolerated, and/or supported the radical Islamic ideology that brought such despair to our shores less than two years earlier.
That night of May 1, 2003, Chris Matthews of Hardball on MSNBC said:
…the president deserves everything he’s doing tonight in terms of his leadership. He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics…”
No doubt everybody recognized what an effective commander-in-chief Bush had become, as was reflected in his sky-high approval rating, his bi-partisan support in congress for the invasion of Iraq six weeks earlier, and his party’s impressive success in the mid-term elections six months earlier. KB Toys released the “Elite Force Aviator: George W. Bush” action figure which sold well all the way through the Christmas season of 2003.
There was absolutely no sign of how the winds of fortune would reverse direction starting on that day. But a large banner, a small group of zealous lefties, a few dishonest federal bureaucrats, and a Hungarian billionaire would start work to remarkably turn this image upside down.
Below that deck with the cheering sailors, hung a huge banner that read, “Mission Accomplished.” No one thought that it was, in any way, out of place on that day, for everyone knew that this was a bit of a staged “victory lap” for the president and the troops. Unbeknownst to anyone on the deck of the Lincoln or in the media world beyond, that banner would prove to be the infamous, predominant image that would survive from that day, as the insurgency in Iraq took hold over the next three years.
Also in the shadows that day, lay a smoldering group of left-wing zealots who took major offense to such pomp on their sacred, anti-capitalist Mayday. Out of power and with little financial or popular support, the Left waited for the heavenly sign that would initiate their rise back to prominence.
That sign would come a month later in June 2003, when George Soros, a Hungarian billionaire who had made his fortunes devaluing currencies all over the world (and casting millions into poverty), announced that he would abandon the Open Society Institute, his main foundation, so that he could concentrate his time, energy, and money on working to defeat Bush in the United States presidential election of 2004.
Many despondent groups such as the pathetically passé MoveOn.org, as well as some famous left-wing celebrities came to Soros’s mansion in the Hamptons on Long Island to pitch their ideas over a weekend in July 2003. Loving his new found attention and celebrity from this group, Soros began pledging irrational amounts to these various causes. Byron York thoroughly documented this in his book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy;
In the beginning, Soros had pledged $10 million to ACT (Americans Coming Together) and other Democratic 527s. Then the number became $15 million. Then $20 million. Then $25 million. And then more. The 527s had never seen that amount of money come in from one person at one time.”
The saying of the day became; “there’s nothing wrong with our message, it’s just that we haven’t communicated it effectively”, so armed with this new influx of cash and a stolen strategy PowerPoint constructed by Bush advisor Karl Rove, the left wing groups got busy communicating.
By the election year of 2004, all kinds of Soros-funded projects began appearing across the media landscape. The Air America radio network was launched with celebrities Al Franken and Jeanine Garafalo at its centerpiece, the book What’s the Matter with Kansas? by author Thomas Frank was widely publicized in the mainstream media, the Michael Moore anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 911, and the anti-right wing website Media Matters, which in turn would become the pipeline for certain shows on MSNBC, once that network dropped any pretence of objectivity and became, in effect, another organ of the Soros “message machine”.
Although theses groups fell far short of achieving their ultimate goal of defeating Bush in ’04, they certainly chipped away at his popularity with a relentless media bombardment that soon found a most accommodating main-steam media, who were happy to jump on board as President Bush’s popularity waned.
After the election, as Bush commenced his second term, the “message machine” did not relent, one iota. They salivated over every morsel of bad news that came out of Iraq, pampered any former administration official that was willing to sell out, and exploited any crisis with fanatical zeal. During Hurricane Katrina, there was virtually no mention of ineptitude of the democratic mayor of New Orleans or the democratic governor of Louisiana.
When there was little to exploit in the news, the sloganeers went into overdrive to do their small part to help slay the Boogieman Bush. Remember blood for oil? In September, 2007, falling in line with the Soros message of the week, Chris Matthews of Hardball on MSNBC said:
…we should hang Exxon and Mobil signs at Arlington National Cemetery…”
That’s not to say that Bush didn’t give him plenty of help, as he fumbled and blundered through his second term. But it was striking to see how issue #1, the Iraq War, was swept under the rug once the surge was implemented and astonishingly successful.
It’s hard to deny that this past week was a good one for President Obama. He marked his 100th day in office with glowing reviews from the mainstream media, his approval ratings remain high, and Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector changed parties, virtually guaranteeing Obama a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
On tonight’s (May 1, 2009) episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews, while mocking footage of Sarah Palin in front of a genuine bear rug, a guest remarked:
…she should be in front of dead elephant instead, with the recent state of the republican party…”
In other words, Republicans can never come back from this because trends continue infinitely, momentum never shifts and things never change. Unless, of course it is change you can believe in.