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September 08, 2004

The NYT and Boston Globe Fail in Attempts to Smear Bush

The attempts by the liberal media to go after Bush's National Guard service are getting positively humorous. See Frank Rich of the a paper which does not consider documented charges of Kerry's medals fraud to be worth even mentioning to its readers:

In "A Charge to Keep," his 1999 campaign biography crafted by Karen Hughes, Mr. Bush implies that he just happened to slide on his own into one of the "several openings" for pilots in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 and that he continued to fly with his unit for "several years" after his initial service. This is fantasy that went largely unchallenged until 9/11 subjected it to greater scrutiny.

Well, it's been subject to detailed scrutiny since then-- I don't know about before, though I wouldn't take Rich's word on the subject. The latest is the Boston' Globe's September 8 attempt at a scandal story. The Globe's problem is that it couldn't find anything to expose, so its writers have to breathe extra hard as they describe Bush's rather uninteresting service:

And early in his Guard service, on May 27, 1968, Bush signed a ''statement of understanding" pledging to achieve ''satisfactory participation" that included attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty -- usually involving two weekend days each month -- and 15 days of annual active duty. ''I understand that I may be ordered to active duty for a period not to exceed 24 months for unsatisfactory participation," the statement reads.

Yet 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.

The reexamination of Bush's records by the Globe, along with interviews with military specialists who have reviewed regulations from that era, show that 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.

First, note that the Globe's attempted hit piece refutes Frank Rich. Apparently Bush was performing service for the National Guard pretty continuously from 1968 to 1971 and for most of 1972 and 1973. So he *did* fly with his unit for "several years" after his initial service. (I'll pass by Rich's "several openings" crack-- is he denying that the Air National Guard ever had openings?)

The Globe's big revelation is that Bush *could* have been punished by the Air Force *if* his service was deemed unsatisfactory. But it wasn't so deemed- in fact it was explicitly deemed satisfactory-- and so he wasn't punished. The Globe could equally well have said that Kerry could have been punished by the Navy if his service had been deemed unsatisfactory.

Well, how about insinuations? Maybe Bush missed some drills, and that offence would ordinarily get you court-martialed and sent to a firing squad, but he got off because his father pulled strings, and he blackmailed his superior officer using film footage taken in strip bars. The problem with this is that there's no evidence for it.

But wait... did Bush miss any drills? He needed "attendance at 24 days of annual weekend duty". That's 12 weekends. A year has 52 weekends. Thus, it's easy to do 12 weekends while skipping a 6-month interval. (I don't know why his commanding officer said he hadn't seen Bush for a year when the previous paragraph says that Bush only missed a 6-month period. Sounds like the commanding officer has a bad memory.)

So it seems that maybe Bush's service was deemed satisfactory because he didn't actually miss any drills.

Suppose he did, though. Could it be that his superior would still consider his performance satisfactory? Yes. It might well have been that Texas had an abundance of pilots eager to get in flying hours on interceptors in 1972, and didn't need George Bush to fend off the threat of Soviet bombers. I've no doubt that Air National Guard service was not an onerous job, no more than was the 95% or so of John Kerry's service not spent in Swiftboats (he was in the Navy from 1966 to 1972, and in the Reserve then till 1978; 4 1/2 months of that was in Swiftboats).

The New York Times and Boston Globe stories do tell us some things, though:

1. The worst things Bush's enemies can find out about his military service aren't actually bad at all.

2. Those two newspapers are desperate to shoot down Bush.

3. The reason those newspapers were reluctant to cover the Swiftvets was not that they think accusations about the military service of 30 years ago are unimportant.

4. The reason those newspapers were reluctant to cover the Swiftvets was not that they think accusations about the military service of 30 years ago need strong supporting evidence.

Posted by erasmuse at September 8, 2004 05:52 PM

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