On May 1st, 2003 – less than six weeks after the start of a conflict many would argue is still ongoing – President Bush announced “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” An enormous banner reading, “Mission Accomplished,” ruffled in the breeze behind him.
Of course we now know that although “Major Combat Operations” stopped the conflict continues to this day and has claimed (by varying accounts) the lives of over 4,500 U.S. servicemen and women and tens-of-thousands of Iraqi (some estimates are in the hundreds of thousands) after this announcement.
It may be argued that the case depends completely on the definition of “Major Combat Operations” but semantics aside the hubris and spectacle of the day would haunt the administration. Bush would later say in 2009, “Clearly, putting ‘Mission Accomplished’ on an aircraft carrier was a mistake.”
The administration’s later admissions concerning the inappropriateness of the banner coupled with the legitimate points about the definition of what was being announced soften the blow here. While history may very well treat the former president more harshly we can only sentence him to Misdemeanor Douchebaggery for hiding behind technical definitions and ignoring the broader implications. We also add the charge of Dumbassery in the Fifth Degree simply for being unable to see how easily this could bite him in the ass.