Intra-Mission

Four years down the pike from Mission Accomplished, Editor and Publisher takes a look at the coverage. Greg Mitchell's story starts our with a fitting reminder of why we despise Chris Matthews:

"He won the war," boomed MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics."

The story is about the NYT coverage though, and it was a mixed bag. The much maligned Judy Miller pretty much reported the facts. Ditto Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt. Elisabeth Bumiller did her usual stenogragphy.

Most egregious was Maureen Dowd. She slithered out of her den to get all multi-orgasmic about W's flight suit and ejection harness swaddled crotch:

Maureen Dowd, column, May 4

The tail hook caught the last cable, jerking the fighter jet from 150 m.p.h. to zero in two seconds. Out bounded the cocky, rule-breaking, daredevil flyboy, a man navigating the Highway to the Danger Zone, out along the edges where he was born to be, the further on the edge, the hotter the intensity.

He flashed that famous all-American grin as he swaggered around the deck of the aircraft carrier in his olive flight suit, ejection harness between his legs, helmet tucked under his arm, awestruck crew crowding around. Maverick was back, cooler and hotter than ever, throttling to the max with joystick politics.

Compared to Karl Rove's ''revvin' up your engine'' myth-making cinematic style, Jerry Bruckheimer's movies look like ''Lizzie McGuire.''

This time Maverick didn't just nail a few bogeys and do a 4G inverted dive with a MIG-28 at a range of two meters. This time the Top Gun wasted a couple of nasty regimes, and promised this was just the beginning.

The only real redemptions for the Times came in the story by Dexter Filkins and Ian Fisher, who saw through the bombast to see the rot below:

The war in Iraq has officially ended, but the momentous task of recreating a new Iraqi nation seems hardly to have begun. Three weeks after Saddam Hussein fell from power, American troops are straining to manage the forces this war has unleashed: the anger, frustration and competing ambitions of a nation suppressed for three decades.

In a virtual power vacuum, with the relationship between American military and civilian authority seeming ill defined, new political parties, Kurds and Shiite religious groups are asserting virtual governmental authority in cities and villages across the country, sometimes right under the noses of American soldiers.

There is a growing sense among educated Iraqis eager for the American-led transformation of Iraq to work that the Americans may be losing the initiative, that the single-mindedness that won the war is slackening under the delicate task of transforming a military victory into political success.

And so it goes.

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