January 16, 1991 -- George Bush's Declaration of the Gulf War
From the beginning, George Bush was determined not to turn the Gulf War into another Vietnam. His military commanders shared that determination. But what, exactly, are the lessons of Vietnam? From the standpoint of television they are these: (1) make it an air war, not a ground war, because ground soldiers can be interviewed on camera; (2) make it a short war, not a long war, because television has a short attention span; and (3) make it a technical war, not a political war, because Americans love the technocratic and fall out with one another over ends and means. Blessedly, the Gulf War was short and, via a complex network of satellite feeds, it entertained the American people with its sumptuous visuals: SCUD missiles exploding, oil-slicks spreading, yellow ribbons flying. Iraq's Saddam Hussein fought back--on television--in avuncular poses with captured innocents and by staying tuned to CNN from his bunker. The Gulf War therefore marked an almost postmodern turn in the history of warfare, with the texts it produced now being better remembered than the deaths it caused. What such a turn means for the presidency, or for humankind, has yet to be determined.
-One of the "Ten Dates that tell the story of the U.S. Presidency on Television" from the Museum of Broadcast Communications:
Watch President George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 1, 2003: