On June 20th, 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney made a comment that was very optimistic about Iraq's chances of becoming a stable liberal democracy and that was also very dismissive of the insurgents fighting against the elected Iraqi government and the U.S. military.
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a time," Cheney stated on CNN's "Larry King Live." He added, "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
The comment was widely disparaged at the time. Greg Mitchell, the editor of EditorandPublisher.com, wrote that Cheney was sounding like "Baghdad Bob", Saddam Hussein's information minister who declared that the United States was being defeated even as American tanks rolled into Baghdad. Later in August, Senator Chuck Hagel(R-NE) ridiculed the comment, saying, "Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking. If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning then I do."
General John Abizaid testified several weeks later that the insurgency was as strong as ever, but Cheney refused to retract his comments, saying it all depended on what "last throes" meant, and that it could mean a long, not a short, period of violence.
Despite the vice president's prediction, violence in Iraq continued. Insurgents still ambushed U.S. soldiers, drove car bombs into buildings, and planted roadside bombs. Plus, Shiite death squads believed by many to have the hidden support of the government police began murdering Sunni civilians, and the bloodletting became increasingly sectarian.
When the one year anniversary of the comment rolled around, bloggers mocked Cheney once again. The Belgravia Dispatch and the Carpetbagger Report ridiculed him for his defense of the quote, and declared him to have been wrong on almost everything relating to Iraq. Other blogs and online forums used the quote to demonstrate how out of touch with the situation in Iraq he was.
Yet the one year anniversary of Cheney's comments passed almost unnoticed by most major American newspapers. The New York Times used Cheney's "last throes" quote in many stories, but only as part of a larger story; however, they often contrasted the continuing violence and anarchy in Iraq with Cheney's optimistic words. USA Today didn't mention the quote at all. Partly this might have been because of the killing of Abu-Musab-al-Zarqawi, which gave a major boost to the Bush administration's Iraq policy. \
Howard Kurtz, a column writer for the Washington Post, ridiculed Cheney for his abusurdly optimistic comment and looked for articles that challenged the vice president's foolish statement of a year ago. He found only one. Written by Tom Ricks, also of the Washington Post, it allowed Cheney to say that no one have anticipated the insurgency's strength, but then noted that in spite of Cheney's statement, many Middle East and defense experts had warned the Bush administration about the difficulties and hazards of administering and rebuilding postwar Iraq, and they had offered plans and suggestions. Bush, Cheney, and their advisors had ignored them all. Despite the efforts of Tom Ricks and Howard Kurtz, far too few people in the major newspapers held Cheney and the Bush administation accountable for their mistakes and foolishly optimistic statements.