Today marks the third anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" banner, the presidential flight suit, and the President's announcement that "major combat operations have ended" in Iraq.
If anyone is still wondering why his political standing as a credible leader has waned since that day, just consider these statistics:
Ninety-four percent of all U.S. military deaths have occurred since that day.
And 97 percent of all wounded U.S. troops have suffered their injuries since that day.
Why did Bush get tripped up by his own triumphalism? Perhaps his former Secretary of State can answer that.
Colin Powell told a British TV interviewer over the weekend that "just because you didn’t foresee (an insurgency), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have planned for the unforeseen. I have always been one who favored a larger military presence in an operation to make sure that you can deal with the unforeseen, but in the case of the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, you had institutions being destroyed, you had ministries being burned down, and I have said on many occasions I don’t think we had enough force there at that time to impose order. That’s what we were responsible for, because when you have taken out a government, a regime, then you become responsible for the country."
And now we learn that the top U.S. general on the ground in Iraq is openly disputing the notion that major combat operations have ended. In the words of Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli,
"There's nothing about this that I would [call] peacekeeping," he said. "We're in a fight."
The best coda for today's anniversary comes from conservative commentator Rich Lowry, who wrote last week in the National Review magazine, "The Iraq war promises to be the Lewinsky scandal of George W. Bush's presidency."
And when a conservative compares Iraq to Monica Lewinsky, you know this war must be turning into something serious.