September 07, 2004

Kerry Went to Vietnam. Bush Didn't. Kerry Won Medals. Bush Didn't Show Up for Duty

It appears that the Boston Globe is a newspaper: / News / Nation / Bush fell short on duty at Guard: In February, when the White House made public hundreds of pages of President Bush's military records, White House officials repeatedly insisted that the records prove that Bush fulfilled his military commitment in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. But Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation, a Globe reexamination of the records shows: Twice... Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty. He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show....

On July 30, 1973, shortly before he moved from Houston to Cambridge, Bush signed a document that declared, ''It is my responsibility to locate and be assigned to another Reserve forces unit or mobilization augmentation position. If I fail to do so, I am subject to involuntary order to active duty for up to 24 months. . . " Under Guard regulations, Bush had 60 days to locate a new unit. But Bush never signed up with a Boston-area unit.... Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post that Bush finished his six-year commitment at a Boston area Air Force Reserve unit after he left Houston. Not so, Bartlett now concedes. ''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview....

Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.... Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been ''satisfactory" -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months....

Army Colonel Gerald A. Lechliter, one of a number of retired military officers who have studied Bush's records and old National Guard regulations.... ''He broke his contract with the United States government -- without any adverse consequences. And the Texas Air National Guard was complicit in allowing this to happen," Lechliter said in an interview yesterday. ''He was a pilot. It cost the government a million dollars to train him to fly. So he should have been held to an even higher standard."

Even retired Lieutenant Colonel Albert C. Lloyd Jr., a former Texas Air National Guard personnel chief who vouched for Bush at the White House's request in February, agreed that Bush walked away from his obligation to join a reserve unit in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973. By not joining a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said in an interview last month, Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down, and he probably knew that the Air Force was not enforcing the penalty."...

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, said after studying many of the documents that it is clear to him that Bush ''gamed the system." And he agreed with Lloyd that Bush was not alone in doing so. ''If I cheat on my income tax and don't get caught, I'm still cheating on my income tax," Korb said. After his own review, Korb said Bush could have been ordered to active duty for missing more than 10 percent of his required drills in any given year. Bush, according to the records, fell shy of that obligation in two successive fiscal years.

Korb said Bush also made a commitment to complete his six-year obligation when he moved to Cambridge, a transfer the Guard often allowed to accommodate Guardsmen who had to move elsewhere. ''He had a responsibility to find a unit in Boston and attend drills," said Korb, who is now affiliated with a liberal Washington think tank. ''I see no evidence or indication in the documents that he was given permission to forgo training before the end of his obligation. If he signed that document, he should have fulfilled his obligation."...

In June 1970, after five additional months of specialized training in F-102 fighter-interceptor, Bush began what should have been a four-year assignment with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In May 1972, Bush... move to Alabama.... But Bush's service records do not show him logging any service in Alabama until October of that year. And even that service is in doubt... no one has come forward with any credible recollection of having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama or after he returned to Houston in 1973.... On May 1, 1973, Bush's superior officers wrote that they could not complete his annual performance review because he had not been observed at the Houston base during the prior 12 months.

[S]ome [records]... suggest that he did a flurry of drills in 1973 in Houston -- a weekend in April and then 38 days of training crammed into May, June, and July. But Lechliter, the retired colonel, concluded after reviewing National Guard regulations that Bush should not have received credit -- or pay -- for many of those days either. The regulations, Lechliter and others said, required that any scheduled drills that Bush missed be made up either within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill.... Bush had little interest in fulfilling his obligation, and his superiors preferred to look the other way. Others agree. ''It appears that no one wanted to hold him accountable," said retired Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard.

Posted by DeLong at September 7, 2004 10:53 PM | TrackBack

It's one of those articles where one starts out wanting to put important sections in bold to emphasize their importance, but if that happened, the whole story would be in bold.

In light of the Right-Wing hoopla over the war record of Mr. Kerry this story should be huge.

But most likely, it won't be.

Posted by: Jazzhound at September 7, 2004 11:13 PM

Oh, I dunno. Since 60 Minutes is gonna broadcast their interview with Ben Barnes Wednesday night too (he's the Texas Nat'l Guard fixer who got Bush into that unit), all in all it looks like a bad day for Rove/Bush/Cheney.

Posted by: Linkmeister at September 7, 2004 11:26 PM

Well, this story will pretty much answer our question: about the media: are they sleepwalking, or are they actively supporting Bush? If they run with this, or give this any play, or even breath a word about it, I'll not only take back the terrible things I've said about them in the last 6 months, I'll also be thoroughly shocked. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Padraig at September 7, 2004 11:27 PM

I hereby recommend that Brad DeLong be reduced in rank by 150 Hz in the Ancient Order of the Shrill, because he left out what was (for me) the very *best* line in this story, which occurs after Lt. Col Lloyd admits that Bush seems to have bagged out of the reserves when he moved to Boston:

# But Lloyd said that singling out Bush for criticism is unfair.
# "There were hundreds of guys like him who did the same
# thing," he said.

Yes, I'm sure there were hundreds of other priviledged slackers who bailed on their promise to serve out their terms in the Reserves. *But how many of these people then want to become commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces* and then have the gall to campaign for re-election based on their war-time leadership ability? The act itself is shameless, but the excuse is even more damning.

So I move that DeLong be transposed 150 Hz down the scale in the Ancient Order, until he really shows that he doesn't have to hold back, and that he really *can* hit those high notes. :-)

Posted by: Jonathan King at September 7, 2004 11:31 PM

Prof: your "comments" counter seems to be off track....showed (1) comment when there were 4

Posted by: venky at September 7, 2004 11:36 PM

This is all welcome stuff and I eagerly await the 60 Minutes broadcast, but the narrative (actually the lack of a narrative) gets fairly complex.

More to the point: why didn't he take the physical? $1M to train a fighter pilot. I believe failing to take the physical (not the same as failing the physical) is a court-martial offense in the real Air Force.

This is weird, even to Republican men. Every time I think of it I remember the zeal of Richard Gere's character in Office & A Gentleman to "get jets." He had 'em and disappeared.

Posted by: Social democrat at September 8, 2004 12:13 AM

Aside from everything else, can you believe this guy turning down the chance to fly a jet plane! that was never even an option for me with my vision. I guess once you've done coke flying a figher jet ain't thrilling anymore. moron.

As for the media, they're easily bullied, and us wimpy pinkos are bad at bullying.

Posted by: c. at September 8, 2004 12:23 AM

What the Boston Globe is a newspaper ??? Like you I gave the best years of my life to the Boston metropolitan area and I never ever saw any sign that the Globe was anything but trash can liner.

Miracles never cease.

Posted by: Robert Waldmann at September 8, 2004 01:53 AM

Is it too late to call Bush up for active duty? But then I suppose the Bush camp would argue that being commander in chief fulfills his military obligations.

Posted by: JJB at September 8, 2004 01:54 AM

Just to clarify, I've heard the coke stories and they sound credible, especially since I've heard that the physical he skipped was the first to include a drug test.

But it's almost more damning (and certainly weirder) if you don't even get into the question of whether or not he was a cokehead. He was handed a 3-D Ferrari, open sky, and, of course, no one was shooting at him. This would be a fantasy camp for a run of the mill rich kid, but in Bushworld, they paid him! And he walked away.

Even Republican men will start to realize there's something very wrong with this guy.

Posted by: Social democrat at September 8, 2004 02:04 AM

Well, I had other oblibogations, ya know. Had to run some more 'girlfriends' over to a Houston OBGYN to get some coat-hanger 'love' on those weekends. Oh, and score some more rock. And meet with some Ay-rab that ma Daddy wanted me to meet. Banjo? Bandaid? Sheeit, I cain't remember all them furren words.

Posted by: bushwahd at September 8, 2004 04:50 AM

The story of Bushs' life.

He is given a great position, say as CEO of a firm, and he runs it into the ground.

So Daddy and his friends bail him out.

No wonder heis a risk taker, he never has to suffer the adverse consequences of his failures.

Except this time daddy and his friends can not bail him out.

What about the other stories in the paper that the rebels are taking control of large parts of Iraq -- he is losing the peace in Iraq.

Posted by: spencer at September 8, 2004 04:56 AM

What's really fun about this silliness is the effect it will have on Kerry.

You see, Kerry was in the reserves, too. And Kerry not only blew off HIS obligations, he we went to Paris to secretly meet with the enemy in time of war while he was still a commissioned officer in the ACTIVE reserves.

And anyone who lived during those times will tell you that as the war was winding down, the regular services and the reserves were encouraging men with surplus skills to exit early. The TANG had a surplus of pilots --especially those trained only for the F102's.

But keep it, folks. This is fun.

Posted by: Norman Rogers at September 8, 2004 05:00 AM

The NYT is evidently a newspaper, too, based on Nick Kristof's column today, Wednesday. Morning Edition discussed various possibilities concerning the absence of certain forms from Bush's military records. They did not discuss one strong possibility, tampering and destruction of records.

Posted by: Bob H at September 8, 2004 05:07 AM

Isn't this the guy who "wrote" a book called, "A Charge To Keep"?

And speaking of commitments he's failed to fulfill, how about that presidency?

Posted by: Chris at September 8, 2004 05:35 AM

Norman Rogers - you are missing the point, probably on purpose.

Bush twice signed declarations that he would catch up with missed service, and didn't. That alone would have gotten him sent to Vietnam, if powerful people weren't protecting him.

The fact that he didn't serve fully, by missing and not making up duty days, is the reason he did not receive the Texas Faithful Service Medal, upon completion of his stint. They were able to doctor the records, after pushing the officer in charge, evidently - but they couldn't award him a medal he did not deserve.

George W Bush did not complete his duties at TANG honorably, and should not have received an honorable discharge.


This will get huge play now. Many news organizations have been angling for these records, and you can be certain that more people will come out with facts. We already have Mrs. Allison, who testifies that Bush was sent to Alabama to get out of trouble, that he didn't do much work for her husband, and that he certainly never did any duty in the Alabama Air National Guard. Another lie the president is caught in.

Then we have Barnes, who is now testifying to having assisted Bush with jumping the queue to get into TANG. CBS is breaking this tonight, with an additional deep-dive into Bush's service records and lies.

Note how Krystoff at NYT had to cover this today. The various papers and news outlets want to signal that they have been keeping track, because they know something huge is breaking.

Bush and Rove brought it on themselves, by smearing Kerry's service record. That made it legitimate to give Bush's past another look, free of friendly vetting of records.

No one has ever claimed the various rewards offered to people who can prove that they met with George W Bush in Alabama. Doonesbury's latest offer went unclaimed. Maybe he'll up the ante.

Posted by: SteinL at September 8, 2004 06:09 AM

Ah, more batting practice fastballs. Such as this doozy:

"Bush walked away from his obligation to join a reserve unit in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973. By not joining a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said in an interview last month, Bush ''took a chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding down."

The war ended officially in January 1973, boys. Unofficially, for American troops long before that. When Bush moved to Alabama to work in 1972--which is noted on his fitness report, signed by two superior officers in May of that year--there were fewer than 100,00 Americans in Vietnam. With more being withdrawn every week.

There was a time when I would have expected a professional economist to realize that when a war ends the military doesn't need the same manpower it did at the height of the hostilities. But, I was disabused of that notion long ago.

Also, Norman Rogers is exactly correct. The guy who did blow off his reserve duty--two years of week-end warrioring, one year of standy reserve--is John Kerry. And he did it in 1970 when the outcome of the war was hugely in doubt. Substituting collaboration with the enemy for the obligations he had signed on for.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 8, 2004 06:36 AM

What's unsaid in the Globe article is why Bush was able to shirk his Guard duties without being called to active duty. The oversight is likely because the reason is so obvious. The same people that helped Bush jump over many applicants to get into the TANG, that got Bush a commission without spending a day in ROTC or OTS, that got a slot in pilot training school with an AFOQT score that would have effectively disqualified anyone else are probably the same ones that shielded him from being called to active duty to fulfull his commitment.

Bush, who plays the part of a macho fighter, is in reality a pampered poodle who has gotten so far in life because of his family connections. He pretends to have cojones but they are really nothing more than shriveled raisins. Had he been the son of a migrant farm worker, he'd still be picking fruit from Florida to California. It was a sad day in the history of the American republic when this fraud was allowed to ascend to its highest political office.

Posted by: Mushinronsha at September 8, 2004 06:40 AM

Reading about W's 'service', I am struck by how often his not being called to active duty is construed as being protected by powerful interests, which is undoubtedly true to an extent. There is another viewpoint that should be considered here.

If I am a consciencious officer, I almost have to conclude that forcing George W Bush into active combat duties is a loser in every way:
1. His high powered patronage makes it an uphill fight,
2. His duty to his service and the guys who are doing the fighting. Would you want W as your wingman? Would sending W into combat with an F-102 be the same as just throwing an F-102 away?

Posted by: CK Dexter Haven at September 8, 2004 06:42 AM

In our 12-step addiction recovery programs and elsewhere, there's one word in common for the actions of the Bush family, Ben Barnes, the Air Force Reserve, and the American Press Corps; it's the word "enabling". They've all "enabled" Bush to pose as a mature adult, even as he defaults on the responsibilities attending the rights of the mature. This enabling continues to the present day: for example, a mature adult, as president, would simply hold three debates with his opponent. But not Bush: no, either he can't take it, or can't be bothered, and so the arch-enabler-courtier James Baker negotiates the debates three debates down to two. Not a single demand has been put on Bush in office that would be put on a sober and mature adult. He doesn't do anything he doesn't want to do, and no one holds him accountable for this. The press, which is not heroic, will have to inform everyone else that this is finally not a healthy way to proceed. Republicans will have to accept the hard truth, and vote the man out of office. (But then, as one of the great Rock anthems of the sixties liked to say, "America Drinks!")

Posted by: alabama at September 8, 2004 06:51 AM

We are, I see, now going to try and wheel out once more the "Kerry was a pro-Communist traitor" argument again. For a lying, cowardly, pro-Communist traitor, he certainly had enough admirers among his fellow soldiers, including those not on his boat. Must have been an awful good cover story. (Especially to persuade Christopher Caldwell, too, judging from the latter's 2001 piece on frequent US war crimes in Vietnam, which makes Kerry's 1971 accusations look mild by comparison.)

No matter how one tries to cover the fact up with Sullivan's and Rogers' clouds of rhetorical radar chaff -- with which we are now all painfully familiar -- the fact remains that (A) Kerry went to Vietnam, got shot up, and very nearly got killed, and (B) Bush simultanously not only utilized Dad's pull to avoid the war, but didn't even bother to show up for his required alternative service (as noted by such Democratic Party stalwarts and civilian ignoramuses as Lawrence Korb, Col. Lechliter, Lt. Col. Lloyd, and the former director of the Pentagon's Air National Guard). Apparently this was because he was too busy getting drunk at the time.

Nor does Patrick mention that key paragraph from the Globe story: "Bush, a fighter-interceptor pilot, performed no service for one six-month period in 1972 and for another period of almost three months in 1973, the records show.... Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974. But they did neither. In fact, Bush's unit certified in late 1973 that his service had been 'satisfactory' -- just four months after Bush's commanding officer wrote that Bush had not been seen at his unit for the previous 12 months...."

In short, one is forced to the conclusion that Patrick's appraisal of this situation is about as accurate as his appraisal of the Kerry Bronze Star affair. At any rate, no matter how much he and Rogers toot their horns, I suspect we have now heard the last of the SBVT's accusations that Kerry was unpatriotic.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 06:55 AM

Rodgers is new here. He probably came because he was banned from Kevin Drum's site -- the first and possibly the only troll Kevin ever banned.

He makes Adrian and Patrick R. seem rational and civil.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson at September 8, 2004 07:36 AM

bush says 'i was young and irresponsible, it was thirty years ago, i was honorably discharged so i must have done something right, and i have said that i honor mr. kerry's service.' end of story.

i give the press credit for putting it out there but the story will not go anywhere. everyone out that knows that bush was a young, rich punk that probably broke the rules when it came to his tang time. it's not going to change any minds. however, what it will do is maybe signal to bush and rove 'keep on pushing on kerry's service and we'll keep on pushing on your 'young and irresponsible' days and maybe, just maybe, we'll find a buddy of yours that remembers doing a few lines in a texas bar back in 1974.'

all this 'offense' is is a good 'defense'. the bush campaign will not take a hit but it'll prevent hits on the kerry campaign.

Posted by: Elemeno P. at September 8, 2004 07:45 AM

I believe that Patrick Sullivan errs when he connects Bush's not being called to active duty because the Vietnam war was winding down. It suggests that the USAF was not holding personnel to commitments they made because the personnel were no longer needed.

I was released from active duty with the USAF at the about the same time Bush skipped out on the TANG. I can guarantee you that, at that time, the Air Force was NOT letting personnel skip out wholesale on their commitments because they were no longer needed. Just to maintain discipline, the Air Force was holding its personnel to their commitments, except in rare cases.

The USAF at that time, however, did respond favorably to people with high-level political connections. I saw it first-hand. Therefore, it is likely in the extreme that the USAF decided not pursue Lt. Bush because they were persuaded not to by someone who was politically connected (the story of George Bush's life).

Posted by: Mushinronsha at September 8, 2004 07:54 AM

Footnote to 6:51 AM: according to the logic of addiction, "enabling" is itself the symptom of a disorder. Those who "enable" are said to be involved with the abuser in an unhealthy way-- "addicted to the addict". I think of this phrase as pertaining exactly to the parties who've enabled Bush to arrive at, and enter into, High Office. The press itself is one example: it's really "drunk" on the Presidency; it's addicted to the Presidency. So far as I know, the symptoms of this disorder have yet to be described and enumerated by the press itself--because the Press, for the most part, is "in denial". Its addiction is not a new problem--it goes back at least as far the Presidency of FDR--and there's certainly no way to fix it quickly. The fix, if it happens at all, will have to start at the level of individual voter. I, the voter, must begin, here and now, to address my dependency on the drug we call "the President".

Posted by: alabama at September 8, 2004 07:57 AM

I agree with Zizka about Norman Rogers. I watched Norman Rogers' antics on Kevin Drum's blog for a long time. I don't believe in censorship but Rogers was so disruptive to discussions on Kevin's post that I support Kevin if he decided to boot Rogers off his blog.

Posted by: Mushinronsha at September 8, 2004 07:59 AM

"The war ended officially in January 1973, boys. Unofficially, for American troops long before that. "

What of it? If I'm understanding the regulations correctly the consequence of shirking one's duty in the NG was rotation to active duty, wherever that assignment happened to be. Bush could have been put on active duty with or without Vietnam.

Posted by: Jon at September 8, 2004 08:06 AM

The screaming fury of the Bush falangists lets us know that they have taken a harpoon to the chest on Bush's dereliction. He can do dress-up in a flight suit all he wants. Many voters will spot the hypocrisy.

Posted by: g-lex at September 8, 2004 08:35 AM

OK, Bush was young and irresponsible in those days, that doesn't say what he's like now. He might have matured into responsibility.

We can figure that because he admitted to his youthful indiscretions and made amends. That's why we should figure he's better now. He stopped lying about it, he accepted responsibility.

Which year did he do that?

Posted by: J Thomas at September 8, 2004 08:38 AM

Sheesh! It's looking as though the entire media establishment (at least those who have some memory of integrity) woke up this morning and decided they were fed up with the crap. NPR's reports this morning actually contained context and connections for the first time since, approximately, the Clinton administration. I'm also pleased to see, in the newly arrived NYRB, some good ol' steak and potatoes writing. Hope everyone's seen Juan Cole's piece on Cheney and Iraq.

Maybe it won't last. But it's like finding some healthy, thoughtful people still on earth after a nuclear disaster.

Posted by: Bean at September 8, 2004 08:58 AM

It is not much of a newspaper but their team did have 100's of pages of Bush service records to work with and more are being discovered all the time. Why? Well, Mr. Bush signed a standard form 180 releasing all of his records to the public. This is in very sharp contrast to Mr. Kerry who cannot afford to have his service records examined or his medical records for that matter by anyone other than his poodle, Mr. Doug Brinkly, who has stated his view that the public needs to see all of the records. All of them. Does anyone have a problem with that? It would be the death knell if the Swifties are correct. Mr. Kerry's silence and stonewalling and subject changing, and whining all point to the Swifties being correct. Anyone who wades through 100's of pages of Bush service records is unbalanced. Why hasn't this sorry excuse for a newspaper gone after the standard form 180 being signed by Mr. Kerry. They could write another story or two using the same team! That whole state is a mess and they know that character counts in the rest of the USA otherwise Kennedy, Ted, would have been President.

Posted by: leon dixon at September 8, 2004 09:16 AM

In my opinion this is a losing strategy for the Democrats. It’s ancient history with little bearing on current issues. Clinton was a draft dodger, which one would think is even worse than actually serving in the National Guard. Did it matter? No! The world has changed and besides, a lot of baby boomers themselves were draft dodgers in one-way or another, legal or not. Sometimes the pot is a little embarrassed to call the kettle black. The more the Democrats concentrate on this losing issue, the more they detract from areas where Bush is truly vulnerable. As for releasing military records, Kerry is behind Bush. I guess he doesn’t believe in the ancient dictum: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 8, 2004 09:16 AM

"''I must have misspoke," Bartlett, who is now the White House communications director, said in a recent interview...."

Is lying a job requirement with these F-wads, or just part of the qualifications process?

"If they run with this, or give this any play, or even breath a word about it, I'll not only take back the terrible things I've said about them in the last 6 months, I'll also be thoroughly shocked."

I see no reason to step away from any of my anger at the media. This story broke in summer 1999 and they dropped it like a drunk drops an empty bottle. Instead, they reported (and some of them contributed to) a series of ever-weirder lies purporting to demonstrate that Al Gore was a liar who couldn't dress himself properly. Oh, and shark attacks. Shark attacks were a big deal then too, if memory serves.

If journalism had a written code of ethics, it would self-combust from shame. These bastards, by and large, are doing far too little, and far too late, and I'm furious at them.

They ruined my country.

Posted by: Doremus at September 8, 2004 09:20 AM

And, there is dispute now about whether Mr. Kerry "won" any medals. We know he has both worn them and thrown them in the trash. There is credible evidence that Mr. Kerry did not "win" those medals but rather lied or self-inflicted some scratchs. Meanwhile, let's talk about all of his accomplishments in the U.S. Senate for the past 20 years. Boy, that was easy! Done.

Posted by: leon dixon at September 8, 2004 09:23 AM

Is...anyone else scared that the military command might decide to reject W. Bush because of this? What this is doing to service morale must be awful!

Posted by: Randolph Fritz at September 8, 2004 09:23 AM

Bruce, Zizka, and Mushinronsha have pretty much said most everything relevant about patrick and the excreable norman, but to patrick, let's add one note, the one that patrick keeps avoiding: it was not bush's decision to make as to whether he was surplus to requirements. Why you think it was is beyond me.

Posted by: howard at September 8, 2004 09:24 AM

Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times has picked this up. So I think we can say that the story has finally broken.

My guess, though, is that W. Bush's partisans will figure some way to blame this on Kerry and Clinton. It may not change positions--people are scared. But it does give us the opportunity to call W. Bush "deserter" and make it stick.

Get your character issue here!

Posted by: Randolph Fritz at September 8, 2004 09:28 AM

Go to hell, Zarkov. Nobody cares what you think about Democratic strategy. You're a republican, to begin with. Why don't you take your powerful strategic gifts to the Nader campaign? You'd be a good fit there, and are marginally smarter than the average Naderite.

Posted by: zizka / John Emerson at September 8, 2004 09:30 AM

Meanwhile the AP suit to get the documents from the Pentagon that inadvertently got destroyed and were inadvertently rediscovered...
Such a depressing charade. Pathetic to the point of wishing for another post from PS just for the laugh.

Posted by: calmo at September 8, 2004 09:44 AM

From my web log:

George W. Bush is a coward and deserter. John Kerry is a hero and volunteer. Put those two in a dark room and Kerry would come out first. Count on it.

Posted by: Tom Parmenter at September 8, 2004 09:45 AM

A. Zarkov, this is not a "democratic" issue; Kerry, don't forget specifically disavowed the moveon ad that critiqued bush's spotty service (as distinct from kerry's specific attack on dick "five deferment" cheney, the notorious thug who has now accused any of us who want to vote his rotten administration out of office of bringing a terrorist attack upon america). This is a media issue, or, more broadly, a failure-of-media issue.

In his 2000 campaign bio, Bush claimed that he flew all though his national guard service. This was, of course, untrue. In addition, he defended (well, more precisely, karen hughes defended) his claim in his late '80s congressional campaign that he'd been in the Air Force. Since then, he has continued to claim that he fulfilled his service.

All of this should have - and could have - been vetted in 2000, but instead, the media was devoting its energy to things like the color of al gore's suits and how many children were without desks in a florida classroom.

However, the claims by bush merited scrutiny, and they've finally gotten them, and not (leon dixon, this is for you) phony third-hand scrutiny by politically motivated liars and hatchet men, but actual, old-fashioned, look at the documents scrutiny.

What does it mean to 2004? That's another question; it's hard to believe that the bush-enablers will be upset by this, since nothing penetrates their bubble, and it's hard to believe that the independent swing voters have been waiting for the facts about bush and the national guard to make up their minds.

But for the historic record, it means a great deal: it means that bush's pattern of big, unsubstantiated claims for which he is never held responsible began very early on.

Posted by: howard at September 8, 2004 09:52 AM

Lawrence J. Korb, an assistant secretary of defense for manpower and reserve affairs in the Reagan administration, said after studying many of the documents that it is clear to him that Bush ''gamed the system."

This could be a hook for Kerry's Campaign: Stop Playing Games with America. Just run a litiany of short 15 second bits: Bush said his plan would balance the budget, save social security and allow tax cuts. Instead we have record deficits. Stop Playing Games. People who do this for a living and do it better than me. But the "games" hook is short and easily understood when you compare his words against the facts.

Posted by: Cal at September 8, 2004 10:02 AM

Man, what morons Rogers and Sullivan are. A few months back, Sullivan was complaining about how Kerry's Silver Heart was signed by John Lehmann and thus had to be fake. Now, its this.

Kerry was on Inactive status. That means he did not have to attend any drills, etc.

Posted by: Pi Zeta at September 8, 2004 10:03 AM

this story (once again) has legs. It's destabilizes the "tough commander" frame and it also supports the misleader meme. Finally the dems are in the attack postion and have Bushco having to react to a story. Repub's are so good at throwing stuff out and getting a reaction (Like Cheney's tough talk yesterday)...
I thought this story was huge back when broke earlier in the year —Bush had to even answer to it on Russert! I think the liar/misleader frame is very important to build and mainstain--it ties it all up; corporate corruption/croyism, no WMD's, outing can't trust a crooked liar, remember Nixon?

Posted by: delecti at September 8, 2004 10:06 AM

My favorite bit of data from those years of Bush is that is suddenly started to do community service and worked at an anti-poverty group, Project Pull, in Houston. It's totally out of character for Bush. He never, ever talks about this, even though it could win him compassionate conservative points. Could it be that this community service was forced on Young George Bush by a judge?

Posted by: KevinNYC at September 8, 2004 10:18 AM

There's a brief and unexplained reference in ABC's "The Note" to a sudden and "strange" decision to transfer to the White House all authority to approve FOIA requests. If true, this is no doubt pure coincidence.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 10:20 AM

KevinNYC: "Could it be that this community service was forced on Young George Bush by a judge?"

I was wondering the same think, Kevin. It doesn't sound like Bush to do something like this unless he was threatened with jail time.

Posted by: Mushinronsha at September 8, 2004 11:02 AM

Ah, the surest sign that a story has the right-wing worried is that the trolls come out. Hello, little trolls! Hello!

Posted by: Jonathan Dursi at September 8, 2004 11:02 AM

Bush's failure to show up at the Guard could be the least of his problems. I am told that 60 Minutes tonight will explain why he was suspended from flying.

And that will not be pretty.

Posted by: Charles at September 8, 2004 11:25 AM

Your evidence, Charles?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 11:47 AM

>A few months back, Sullivan was complaining
>about how Kerry's Silver Heart was signed by
>John Lehmann and thus had to be fake.

A minor nit to pick:

It's the Silver Star.

Not to be confused with the Purple Heart.

Kerry has taken much heat over receiving three PHes for relatively minor wounds, but my guess is that probably half of all Purple Hearts are for first-aid, bandage-and-antibiotic injuries. After an engagement, if someone shows up in a med tent bleeding, even a bit, then the paperwork mill starts up.

The Silver Star is considerably more rare. It has been suggested that Kerry gamed the system to get his. It's certainly possible. I have heard Vietnam-era vets bitch about seeing unearned Silver Stars be issued -- in the case which was related to me, one went to an Army full colonel who "heroically observed" ground actions from an airborne helicopter nearby.

But I would guess that a mere Navy lieutenant j.g. had vastly less pull within the Pentagon and MACV back channels than did a colonel. Gaming the system may be possible, but it ain't necessarily easy. Otherwise, half the vets in the country would have Silver Stars, DFCs, and Congressional Medals of Honor.

Note that Sen. John Warner, who was SecNav at the time, has said that he unequivocally stands behind Kerry's medal awards.

Posted by: marquer at September 8, 2004 11:53 AM

Another issue about the bogus controversy about Kerry's medals that I have not seen anyone bring up is that Nixon sought to destroy John Kerry's credibility in 1971. Kerry was a very high-profile figure in 1971 which was only two-years after he was awarded the Silver Star and when the events would still be fresh in everyone's memory. If was the phony hero, they are now claiming his, it would have come out then. Yet, I have not seen anyone question his heroism in 1971. Some of the people who are attacking him now have recently praised over 25 years after the fact. It was not until he was running against a Karl Rove-guided candidate that this controversy arises. My favorite is the guy who says Kerry was not under fire the day he received his Silver Star, even though the accuser also won a Silver Star for actions during the same incident and his citation talks about being under fire. He claims he didn't know that was the reason he was awarded the Silver Star. I wonder if any veteran believes that. That someone who is awarded one of the highest medals our military gives and he never read the citation or his friends and family members didn't read it and discuss it with him. Bush deserves all the incoming fire he will get this week.

Posted by: KevinNYC at September 8, 2004 12:08 PM

recently praised him

Posted by: KevinNYC at September 8, 2004 12:09 PM

KevinNYC, for what it's worth, i've noted that very point as well (in blog comments, of course, so it would be easy to miss!).

In fact, from the start i felt the strongest evidence that the swifties were bu(sh)itting was that nixon/colson/oneill didn't try any of these slanders back in '71, when, as the Nixon tapes make clear, they were desperate for attacks on kerry....

Posted by: howard at September 8, 2004 12:38 PM

Has anyone seen the video of Bush taken at a wedding party in 1992 six years after he claimed to have stopped drinking. You can find it all over web. Try the thesmokinggun

Now look at this recent photo of Bush at the Air America site. Scroll down. Bush is pointing in a blue shirt. His face is flush and I am sorry it looks like he may be drinking again as it has been

Personally I think Bush is lying about his drinking habit. However, even if Bush is sober I agree with the Professor is right, Bush is what Alcoholics Anonymous refer to as a Dry Drunk.

If it is true that the brain is still developing when one is in one's late teens and early 20's than is it possible that Bush's heavy drinking during that period had damaged his brain's development. The part of brain that deals with judgement, the ability to handle complexity, and true empathy for others just is not there.

Posted by: llamajockey at September 8, 2004 12:38 PM

And so we learn how to cut through the Gordian knot of "he said, she said" journalism: simply attribute a statement to, "a Globe reexamination of the records shows...."

In other words, reporters are allowed to be eyewitnesses, too.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many people questioning whether Kerry deserved his awards is buying the White House line that, well, Bush got an Honorable Discharge which proves he deserved one. (To Bush's credit, he has at least said that Kerry's service was more honorable than his own. Ain't that the truth.)

Posted by: Grumpy at September 8, 2004 01:48 PM

brad> It appears that the Boston Globe is a newspaper.

If they're a newspaper, then their editorial board must be working out of offices in the Alpha Centauri system. There is no other rational way to explain the transmission latency.

Posted by: s9 at September 8, 2004 02:20 PM

Correction: propagation latency. Sorry about that.

Posted by: s9 at September 8, 2004 02:30 PM

No mention of the AP legal action to obtain the missing military documents. Still, if just a few more newspapers could join the Boston Globe. Thank you Walter Robinson for some genuine service.

Posted by: calmo at September 8, 2004 03:33 PM

I thought all of Kerry's military records were posted on his campaign's website.

Posted by: AnnieCat at September 8, 2004 03:36 PM

Actually, Kevin, it's Kerry's BRONZE Star in which Larry Thurlow (and Jack Chenoweth) claimed there was no enemy fire occurring -- before the Washington Post got hold of a copy of Thurlow's own Star citation (using the FOIA, since Thurlow refused to release a copy of it), and found that Thrulow's own petty officer had testified that Thurlow deserved it because he had carried out his own actions "with enemy bullets flying about him". (Said petty officer, located by the press, continues to testify that this was the case, and also that the after-action reports on which the medals were based were the result of
"a collective account" by the battle participants, rather than just Kerry's word -- although he also says he intends to vote for Bush because of Kerry's antiwar activities.) The account of the late Don Droz, in his handwritten letter to his widow, agrees -- as do three of the crewmen on Droz's boat at the time.

The SBVT story of why Kerry doesn't deserve his SILVER Star is entirely separate -- and has been separately contradicted now not only by Kerry's crewmen, but by Jack Rood from his current position as an editor of the Chicago Tribune. As I told Brad earlier, though, you can be forgiven for getting the various SBVT lies mixed up at this point.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 03:38 PM

Regarding Norman Rogers' and Pat Sullivan's claim that Kerry was "collaborating with the enemy" when he met with the North Vietnamese ambassador in 1971: if I remember correctly, he also met with the South Vietnamese ambassador during this time. He was apparently trying to help set up peace talks -- which may have been a fool's errand, but is not, to put it mildly, the same thing as claiming that he was a Commie agent. (It also meshes better both with the ideas with which he had been indoctrinated throughout his life by his diplomat father -- -- and with his statement during the same time that he "detested totalitarian Communism".) Can anyone confirm or disprove my fuzzy memory of this?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 03:46 PM

HERE'S CBS' new revelations tonight: four newly discovered memos from the personal files of his squadron commander Jerry Killian -- and two new official memos -- which, to my unpracticed eye, look utterly conclusive.

"The first memo [in Killian's personal files] is a direct order [to Bush] to take 'an annual physical examination' – a requirement for all pilots.

"Another memo refers to a phone call from the lieutenant [Bush] in which he and his commander 'discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November.' And that due to other commitments 'he may not have time.'

"On August 1, 1972, Col. Killian grounded Lt. Bush for failure to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards and for failure to take his annual physical as ordered.

"A year after Lt. Bush's suspension from flying, Killian was asked to write another assessment. Killian's memo, titled 'CYA', reads he is being pressured by higher-ups to give the young pilot a favorable yearly evaluation; to, in effect, sugarcoat his review. He refuses, saying, 'I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job.' "

Also: "...[T]wo official memos that seem to contradict previous White House statements.

"One 'orders' the president to report for a physical. The White House has said the physical was 'not necessary' because the president stopped flying.

"And where the White House says the president's flying status was revoked simply for missing that physical, the memo points to both the missed physical and 'failure to perform to (USAF/TexANG) standards.' ...

"It's not just the newly discovered memos causing trouble. There are new questions as to why, when he moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard Business School, Mr. Bush did not sign up with a reserve unit there, as he promised in a letter when he left the Texas National Guard. And why, with his erratic attendance record, he was subject to neither discipline nor active duty call-up as provided for in his contract with the Guard."

Comments, Patrick and Norman?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 04:07 PM

I see Jon has joined with Bruce Moomaw in not being able to interpret a calendar. The significance of missing drills in September 1973 would be that the war was over, and thus Bush couldn't be sent to Vietnam for punishment, as the Globe reporters claim.

For Bruce, at the exact time Kerry was serving in combat in Vietnam (Dec. '68-Mar. 69), Bush was training to be a fighter pilot in Georgia. As I've pointed out to you numbskulls several times, Bush is YOUNGER.

However, when Bush was flying on active duty in 1970-72 Kerry was blowing off his contractual obligations to perform Ready Reserve duty. The same RR duty that Bush DID do.

As for the pathetic howard, there are several documents on the web where he can go online and read for himself that Bush had his CO's permission to move to Alabama and serve in a non-flying capacity. They knew where he was and what he was doing. This one for example accepting him into the 9921st squadron:

Finally, for another nail in the Boston Globe coffin, here's Bush's application for and acceptance of an "early out" for attending Harvard Business School:

Why would he need to find a unit to drill with if he's discharged? If any of you can read, that is.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 8, 2004 04:11 PM

Hey, I can almost draw a picture for you, fellas:

He is in attendance 36 days in 1972 and 46 in 1973. Count em yerselfs, if ya can.

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 8, 2004 04:23 PM

Kerry was in "INACTIVE" status. No RR duty.

And Patrick, what do you say to the new memos that 60 minutes has unearthed about Bush's so-called service ?

Posted by: Pi Zeta at September 8, 2004 04:33 PM

Er, Patrick. The Globe says explicitly: "Bush's attendance at required training drills was so irregular that his superiors could have disciplined him or ordered him to active duty in 1972, 1973, or 1974." Now, if I remember correctly -- athough, being a numbskull, I may not -- the Vietnam War was still on in 1972. Wasb't it, Patrick? And there is that reference in the Globe's sentence to apparent other ways to "discipline him" throughout this three-year period. (It would be rather bizarre, from the viewpoint of the military's self-interest, if such techniques didn't exist.) Also, is Jon not correct in saying that Bush could have been put on "active duty with or without Vietnam"? The Palace Alert Program, you'll recall, did allow Guard flyers to volunteer for active duty at various places all over the planet, including Europe...

As for Bush's commander's newly released comments: well, what did he know, anyway?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 04:48 PM

As a C-0 Nam vet*, I'd agree with PR Sullivan that during '72 and '73 everyone was blowing off reserve duty to look for a paying civilian job as the war wound down into the brutal recession.

I recall the community service work I was doing had simply run out of funds and motivation in the wake of the Paris Peace Agreement, and we were told to simply go back to our home towns.

That's not the same as *abandoning* your post, but that's too sharp a point on an old pencil.
Let's drop this whole Viet Nam thing. That war was over 30 years ago, and has nothing to do with War in Iraq or our sinking Ship of State.

It's also stressing out a whole lot of vets who need to think clearly and calmly what it is they fought, bled and died for, and what they want this election to mean for their grandchildren.

In a sound bite: "2004 Is Not About Viet Nam!"

Posted by: Lash Marks at September 8, 2004 04:56 PM

Ah. Here we are.

"Bush says that toward the end of his training in 1970, he tried to volunteer for overseas duty, asking a commander to put his name on the list for a 'Palace Alert' program, which dispatched qualified F-102 pilots in the Guard to the Europe and the Far East, occasionally to Vietnam, on three- to six-month assignments."

Europe, and the Far East in places other than Vietnam. Presumably if Bush had been sent there, he wouldn't have been on "active duty", Patrick?

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 04:57 PM

Thanks Bruce, I was working from memory.

Posted by: KevinNYC at September 8, 2004 05:12 PM

Ah, Patrick, so hard to keep your story straight, isn't it?

Your implication at 6:36 a.m. is that it didn't matter if bush wasn't flying any more, because american troops were being withdrawn from vietnam.

I asked what made it his decision.

You responded that it was known that he was going to Alabama, which is a nice non sequiter (that would be more sensible if he ever actually showed up at a national guard base in alabama). The point is, he refused to take his physical and was grounded. That was his choice, a choice he had no more right to than the fact that he came from a privileged background.

Posted by: howard at September 8, 2004 05:24 PM

"I believe failing to take the physical (not the same as failing the physical) is a court-martial offense in the real Air Force."

Huh? Bush went AWOL in Alabama, IN WARTIME. That's technically desertion; if he was found anywhere but on a U.S. base when he was required to report for duty, other soldiers would've been authorized to shoot him on sight! The logic is simple: A troop that made sure his superiors didn't know where he was, in war, could very well have sided with the enemy. You don't have to be in enemy terrority to desert.

Posted by: Dragonchild at September 8, 2004 05:29 PM

Howard: "You responded that it was known that he was going to Alabama, which is a nice non sequitur (that would be more sensible if he ever actually showed up at a National Guard base in Alabama). The point is, he refused to take his physical and was grounded. That was his choice, a choice he had no more right to than the fact that he came from a privileged background."

His immediate superior certainly seems to agree with you, Howard, and was singularly pissed off that his superiors were pressuring him to let Bush off the hook. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that -- thanks to CBS -- all the people who have been pursuing Bush for so long on the Guard issue have finally found their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 8, 2004 07:03 PM

Wow, a lot of love here!

It amazes me that someone hasn't put a bullet through Bush's brain by now.

Secret service must be pretty good.

Posted by: robert at September 8, 2004 09:19 PM

You know, bruce, this all said, the really interesting aspect of this to me has been the failure of media due diligence in 2000; after all, Bush's campaign bio claimed that he was flying all the way through his service, and hughes defended his willingness to claim (in '88) that he'd been in the Air Force. Who knows whether a full vetting may not have changed 25,000 votes?

In 2004, it's not clear to me that this will make any difference: the bush enablers have already made their peace with his shortcomings; the undecided independents surely haven't been waiting on this story. So i'm not sure any votes will change, as valuable as all this from the standpoint of both the historic record and as a foreshadowing of the man who talks so big and delivers so little, while being protected every step of the way.

Actually, though, i lie: there is another interesting aspect to this, namely watching Patrick reach for his latest justification of how bush was defending america with his 300+ hours of flight time right up until Nixon won the war in Vietnam at which point bush - with his usual strategic overview - recognized that he need not fly any more and he was now free to go carouse every night while on the blount campaign payroll. It's one of my favorite guilty pleasures, watching patrick assemble his cherrypicked, distorted briefs on bush's behalf....

Posted by: howard at September 8, 2004 09:37 PM

It was an heroic effort to fight government waste, fraud and abuse. Bush saved us money by refusing to allow the government to waste money on unneeded surplus jet pilots. He should get a medal.

Somehow, I smell a new GOP ad campaign in the making.

Posted by: jml at September 8, 2004 10:17 PM


”Go to hell, Zarkov.” I see that you subscribe to the Zell Miller school of discourse, but I understand, he too is a Democrat.

“You're a republican, to begin with.” Well actually I’m an independent. Just because I try to inject a little balance, or play devil’s advocate doesn’t automatically make me a partisan.

“ Why don't you take your powerful strategic gifts to the Nader campaign?” They sent me here.

But seriously, this kind of nit picking about ancient events in the fog of politics will lead many voters into the hands of the Nadar. Bush was a weak candidate in 2000, Gore should have been able to crush him in a landslide victory, not break even. Again in 2004 he is still basically a weak candidate, but the Dems seem to have some kind of death wish, so they first flirted with a really weak candidate, but finally settled on a lightweight campaigner. So it’s back to the world of break-even, which is too bad because we need someone to govern with a real mandate. Whichever way the election comes out, I’m afraid we are going to have four more years of a house divided against itself. And that helps our enemies.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 8, 2004 10:21 PM

Here's the explanation of ABC's reference this morning to the "strange" move to centralize control of FOIA releases under the White House -- which turns out only to apply to releases under the Act which relate to one George W. Bush's National Guard performance: :

"The Bush administration has issued government-wide instructions centralizing the release of information relating to the president's service with the Texas Air National Guard between 1968 and 1973. Officers responsible for implementing the Freedom of Information Act for the National Guard and the Pentagon declined to respond to queries from The Post last week on the completeness of the president's records, referring a reporter instead to Krenke and the White House press office."

Meanwhile, the White House is not questioning the authenticity of the new Jerry Killian memos, but is suggesting that Killian's final bitter memo may be "ambiguous" in its interpretation: "You can't read the mind of a dead man." I dunno; in this case, it seems fairly easy.

"18 August 1973

"Memo to File


"1. Staudt has obviously pressured Hodges more about Bush. I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job. Harris gave me a message today from Grp Regarding Bush's OETR and Staudt is pushing to sugar coat it: Bush wasn't here during rating period and I don't have any feedback from 187th in Alabama. I will not rate. Austin is not happy today either.

"2. Harris took the call from Grp today. I'll backdate but won't rate. Harris agrees."

"Staudt" is Col. Buck Staudt, the then-head of the Texas Air National Guard, who has been suspected for a long time of greasing the skids for Bush and who now refuses to respond to questions from CBS. In the "60 Minutes" broadcast tonight, Robert Strong -- who was a friend of killian and ran the Texas Air National Guard administrative office in the Vietnam era -- says that Killian "was trying to deal with a volatile political situation, in dealing with the son of an ambassador and former congressman. He was trying to deal with at least one superior officer, Gen. Staudt, who was closely connected to the Houston political establishment. And I just see an impossible situation. I feel very, very sorry, because he was between a rock and a hard place."

The reference to "Austin" -- although CBS doesn't mention it -- is obviously a reference to the Texas state government. We don't know who Hodges and Harris are -- yet.

Regarding the overall significance of all this, "Salon" ( ) prints the conclusions of one Eric Lukasiak, who has been analyzing those piles of documents which have already been officially released for months and has already reached the following conclusions -- with which the Killian memos mesh well:

"(1) Bush's request to transfer to an Alabama Guard unit in 1972, in order to work on the Senate campaign of a family friend, Lukasiak found, was not designed to be temporary, but rather was Bush's attempt to sever ties completely with the Texas Air National Guard and find a new, permanent unit in Alabama for which he was ineligible, where he wouldn't have to do any training during his final two years. His superiors in Texas essentially covered for Bush's getaway. However, the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC) in Denver, Colo., which had final say, uncovered the attempted scam, put an end to it, and admonished Bush's superiors for endorsing Bush's bogus request. (The CBS News report shows that the locals were chafing at interference from 'higher-ups' presumably connected to the powerful Bush family). In the interim, Bush simply ignored his weekend duties for nearly six straight months, not bothering to show up at military units in either Alabama or Texas.

"(2) The White House has conceded that Bush missed some required weekend training drills, but insists Bush promptly made up those drills and earned enough annual credits for an honorable discharge. In fact, according to Lukasiak's research, based on the procedures in place at the time requiring that makeup dates be completed within 15 days before or 30 days after the date of the drill date missed, between half and two-thirds of the points credited to Bush for substitute training were fraudulent. Some of the points credited to Bush were 'earned' nine weeks beyond the date of the missed drill. [Note from Moomaw: I had already read this part of Lukasiak's story.] According to Air Force policy, Bush could not have received permission for substitute training that far outside the accepted parameters. The evidence is also overwhelming that Bush failed to get authorization for substitute training in advance, suggesting the points were awarded by the Texas Air National Guard retroactively and without any supporting paperwork. The fraudulent points are key, because without them Bush would have fallen far short of meeting his annual obligation, which meant he should have been transferred to active duty for 24 months and made eligible for service in Vietnam.

"(3) On Oct. 1, 1973, Bush received an honorable discharge from the Texas Air National Guard in order to move to Boston and attend the Harvard Business School, where he was still obligated to find a unit in Massachusetts to fulfill his remaining nine months of duty, or face being placed on active duty. Once again, Bush made no such effort. But the Air Force in Denver, acting retroactively, in effect overturned Bush's honorable discharge and placed him on 'Inactive Status' effective Sept. 15, 1973. When Bush left Texas, his personnel file was sent to Denver for review. The ARPC quickly realized Bush had failed to take a required physical exam, his Texas superior could not account for his whereabouts covering nearly a 12-month period, and due to absenteeism Bush had failed to 'satisfactorily participate' as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. Bush's "Inactive Status" meant his relationship with the Air Force (and the Guard) was severed and he was therefore eligible for the draft.

"Soon afterward, large gaps began appearing in Bush's paper trail. Lukasiak concludes that only last-minute intervention, likely from Bush's local Houston draft board, saved him from active duty, as well as finally securing his honorable discharge, removing his 'Inactive Status.' Ironically, that means strings were pulled to get Bush out of the Guard in 1973, just as they were pulled to get him enrolled in 1968...

"There's also no paper trail to support Bush's claim that he completed any service following 1972. As Lukasiak notes, each substitute training Bush completed, and there were many, should have generated authorized AF Form 40a's: 'All told, Bush performed "substitute training" on at least 20 days. Thus there should be, at the very least, 20 AF Form 40a's with the name of the officer who authorized the training in advance, the name and signature the officer who supervised the training, and Bush's own signature.' But not one such form exists.

"A similar absence of information surrounds Bush's dubious explanation of his attempted transfer to Alabama. The move should have generated a small mountain of paperwork. Under normal circumstances, 10 steps are required to transfer...

"In Bush's case, according to Lukasiak's research, 'There is no statement of counseling, no certification of satisfactory performance, no certification of a suitable vacancy, no letter of resignation, no discharge papers, no discharge orders, and no reassignment orders.'

"There are also indications that Bush -- unwilling to fly, take a physical or report for duty -- was trying to mislead Guard officials with his transfer application. When asked for his permanent address, Bush listed the P.O. box for the Alabama campaign headquarters he worked for temporarily. When asked to note his Air Force Specialty Code, Bush wrote down 1125B, the designation for F-89 or F-94 pilots. At the time of his transfer request, both of these planes had been retired from service in all components of the Air Force, including the Guard and Reserves. Bush's accurate code was 1125D, designing an F-102 pilot. At the time, F-102 planes were still very much in use. It was an error Bush made more than once on the application. Lukasiak writes: 'The odds of Bush being able to scam his way into a non-training unit [in Alabama] would be enhanced if his specific skill set was one which was no longer useful to the Air Force.' [Second note from Moomaw: Patrick will be interested to hear this.]

"In May 1972, Bush was informed that the unit in Alabama he requested was clearly unsuitable for a pilot of his stature, yet he pressed on, and his Texas superiors endorsed the transfer request and submitted it. But the Denver headquarters caught the scam and rejected it. The Texas chief of military personnel sent a curt warning to Bush's unit about the clearly bogus request: 'Attention is invited to basic communication.' "

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 9, 2004 01:01 AM

And another interesting question about the Killian memos, courtesy of Kevin Drum ( ):

"In fact, the White House has now released their own copies of two of the memos and doesn't dispute their authenticity ( ). So if I had to guess, I'd say that these are copies taken from the microfilm archives of the 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. How else would the White House have its own copies?

"But that's just fluff. The real question now is: what other documents does the White House have? Obviously they've had these sitting around for a while, and just as obviously they've held them back even though they claimed in February that they had made available every known document related to Bush's National Guard record.

"So what else are they hiding? And when are they going to approve AP's FOIA request to view all relevant microfilm records directly?"

And, from the CNN story: "After the broadcast, the White House, without comment, released to the news media two of the memos, one ordering Bush to report for his physical exam and the other suspending him from flight status." That is, the White House had them all along, but sat on them until the CBS broadcast confirmed that CBS also had copies.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw at September 9, 2004 02:12 AM

You know, bruce, i said last night that i didn't think this would make any difference, but that was before i realized that the white house was releasing documents that it obviously had covered up. That changes the dynamic more than a little - if the point is noted.

A. Zarkov, before you start assuming that gore should have "crushed" bush, go study 2 things: a.) the nature of the dishonest media coverage gore received; b.) the nixon-kennedy race. As for "lightweight" campaigner, i'd say someone who is still leading in the electoral college after the most disgraceful smear campaign of modern american presidential history is campaigning pretty well, thank you very much. The Bush enablers are steadfast in their bubble, and this note in TAPPED yesterday captures, i think, the why pretty well:

Posted by: howard at September 9, 2004 08:33 AM

I've decided that usual suspects deserve more than the attention of SDJ's comments section alone:

Posted by: Patrick R. Sullivan at September 9, 2004 09:18 AM


I’m not sure what the Nixon-Kennedy race has to do with the Bush-Gore race. But that race involved voter fraud on the part of the Kennedy. A lot of the dirty details on how Kennedy stole that election are covered in Seymour Hersh’s book: “The Dark Side of Camelot.” As for dishonest media coverage hurting Gore, I find that hard to believe. First the media generally supported Gore over Bush. How do we know? They say so in their editorials. Moreover, surveys of newspaper reporters also show that on the whole, more than 70% of reporters are Democrats. So I am to believe that the media sabotaged their own candidate? A much simpler explanation is that Gore was simply a poor campaigner. I thought Bush was a terrible campaigner; he seemed to have trouble expressing himself most of the time. He should have been a knock off for a VP. Finally I’m puzzled when you say Kerry is “ ... someone who is still leading in the Electoral College . . .” According to the Electoral Vote Predictor at it’s currently Bush 254 versus Kerry 242. Take note that this site is very pro Kerry and other polls show a greater disparity in favor of Bush.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 9, 2004 09:46 AM

A. Zarkov, the relevancy of Nixon-Kennedy is that Eisenhower was a popular president who presided over an era of strong economic growth (although there was one recession in there). Kennedy was a relatively unknown figure who carried the "catholic" burden. Nixon should have clobbered him by your standards.

(As for the issue of fraud, i respect Seymour Hersh greatly, although i haven't read that book, but the issue of voter fraud - largely texas and illinois - has been pushed for years, most recently during the florida recount of 2000, and doesn't stand up to scrutiny.)

As for the media, the 70% (i'm not going to track down the links now) is an oft-cited but little-understood study on the right; it was a very limited sample. Nor does it prove a thing: we judge the media not on how its members vote in the privacy of the voting booth but on how they report. And the reporting in 2000 was filled with anti-gore sentiment of an extreme nature (documented in painful detail at the daily howler, and if you're interested, surf on over there and study up chapter upon verse of detailed news account, pundit, and tv transcripts of exactly how the deed was done).

What you should believe about 2000 is that a very large number of people were convinced that Al Gore was a liar because of repeated untrue media reports about Love Story and florida classroom desks and suchlike. What you should believe about 2000 is that george bush actually proposed phony numbers right and left, but the media regarded these fine details as too complex to get into and understand and critique. What you should believe, most of all, about 2000, is that the notion that 70% of reporters bias their copy because they vote Democratic is silly based on the empirical data in front of us.

As for leading, different sources have different approaches (i believe, but i'm not taking the time to confirm, the electoral vote predictor takes all polls into account, including some state polls with a much higher-than-normal margin of error): i am relying upon both the Zogby and Gallup battleground states polls, most recent editions, both of which show Kerry with a lead in most of the battleground states sufficient to win the election (Zogby is clearer because it is state-by-state; Gallup only provided a breakout of the battleground states en masse).

Remember, it doesn't matter by how much Bush wins Texas or Alabama or Mississippi, and therefore the national polls (which are relatively evenly split) aren't of that much help to us in assessing the state of the race.

Posted by: howard at September 9, 2004 10:55 AM

With respect to Patrick (and i do admit to a guilty pleasure, as i said above, in watching him), the documented fact that George Bush committed himself to turning up at a Guard unit while at Harvard doesn't exist. It's quite a world!

Posted by: howard at September 9, 2004 10:59 AM


While Eisenhower was popular (until the end of his second term) Nixon wasn’t, and he carried very strong negatives. Remember when Eisenhower was asked for a list of Nixon’s accomplishments during his tenure as VP, he responded: “Well if you give me a week I can think of one” (don’t hold me to the exact wording). It’s true that Kennedy carried some negatives too, like being a playboy senator, but his charm along with bogus and made up claims about a missile gap seemed to neutralized his negatives. One would expect about a draw (and we did at the time) and that’s what we got.

I will deal with your other points later when I have time.

Posted by: A. Zarkov at September 9, 2004 11:43 AM

You guys seem awfully excited over memos which are more than likely forgeries which will embarrass CBS, the BG, and Kerry. Funny how none of you seem to be aware of that.

(Oh, and feel free to call me a troll - as you do with all who disagree with you.)

Posted by: Matt at September 9, 2004 02:30 PM

A. Zarkov, while we wait for your other comments, my initial point was that it's not a slam dunk for a VP of a popular president to win the presidency himself. After all, while it's true that Nixon carried some negatives, he also carried a great deal of support among republicans for his steadfast anti-communism and for the standing up to khruschev in that - memory, memory, was it the "kitchen" debate that it got called?

Meanwhile, Gore carried a big negative too: the problem of one william jefferson clinton. while this isn't the place to rehearse the whole issue of what should gore have done about clinton, it's certainly true that there were plenty of people who were willing to cut clinton slack but not gore.

So the point is, i expected the race to be a lot like 1960s (rather than 1988s), and it was, which then takes us back to the other issues.

Matt, all of a sudden, amazingly enough, the blogosphere is full of typewriting experts. Ocam's Razor tells us that forging is far less likely than reality, especially since the memos fit pretty well with everything else we do know.

that doesn't prove that forgery is impossible, of course, but shouldn't the fact that the white house isn't claiming that these are phony be suggestive?

Posted by: howard at September 9, 2004 04:56 PM