Some of the media scribes who attended the dedication ceremony on April 26 for the George W. Bush $250 million Library and Museum on the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas, TX commented that there was not one word mentioned about Iraq.
Most of us know why, including the 2008 and 2012 Republican conventions in which there was no mention by the party’s leadership of George W. Bush’s Iraq legacy. Or much, if anything, of number 43.
There are, of course, exceptions. Most notably Karl Rove whose George W. Bush adulation included his recent proposal to chisel his former boss’s image on Mount Rushmore. Rove no doubt was yearning for those halcyon days when photo ops maintained the facade of a commander-in-chief in thoughtful poses such as the one that lined up the profile of George W. Bush with the four presidents’ likenesses that are etched into South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore.
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As to his own perceived legacy Bush has been quoted several times saying that history will judge number 43’s record. After all, he has opined, they (historians) are still writing the legacy of the first G.W. over two-and-a-half centuries later.
So, in keeping with this selective erasure of all memory of Iraq I suggest at least one day should be enshrined in the American tradition of celebrating special days in history. It could be called, Uno de Mayo.
Opening day for the public viewing of the George W. Bush Library and Museum is May 1. That is the day, ten years ago, that George W. Bush, flush with an aura of victory that was emblematic of conquering Roman emperors such as Julius Caesar and Gaius Marius, made his now infamous landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.
Bush landed on the carrier positioned 30 miles off the coast of San Diego. He arrived in the co-pilot’s seat of a Navy S-3B Viking after making two fly-bys. Throngs of Navy personnel and the media gathered on the main deck for this dramatic moment which would, his public relations gurus believed, burnish the legacy of G. W. Bush’s image as a great leader as well as a brilliant military strategist.
For the public and the media perception though, the landing on the carrier was staged so as not to reveal the city skyline in the background. Rather, it gave the impression to the viewers the great moment could have been captured in the Persian Gulf.
There, with his pilot’s helmet tucked under his arm, glowing with a self-congratulating countenance, on May 1, 2003, Bush strode across the flight deck in his airman’s uniform with a Mission Accomplished banner waving overhead and proclaimed that major hostilities had ended in Iraq. Oh, what a day to remember!
In truth though, George W. Bush’s legacy compares more aptly with another Roman emperor, Nero, who sang while Rome burned.