February 10, 2004

More on AWOL. Which will we find first: WMDs or George Bush's National Guard records? Bush said during his Meet The Press interview (which was so bad, even writers for the National Review were shaking their heads) both that the relevant records did not exist and that he would provide those same records. ... CalPundit has done some exceptional research and analysis (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) and TPM offers some comments (1 and 2), adding: "Late word from the White House is that they're releasing some pay stubs which will verify the president's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama. ... As nearly as I can tell the president is still refusing to waive his Privacy Act rights and allow the government to release all his military service records to the press, without having them filtered through the White House." Also check out Time. ... Also, why can't the White House produce one -- just one -- person who will say he saw Bush in Alabama?

For the most part, I agree with Atrios on the relevancy of said records: "I don't care who did or didn't go fight in Vietnam. ... I look forward to the day when our presidential candidates are no longer from the Vietnam generation so we can be done with the whole thing. But, there are two reasons that Bush's military record are at issue. ... The primary reason is that Bush has made his military service an issue. If in 1999 Bush had gotten up and said "You know what? I was grounded because I refused to take a required physical. Then, I transferred to Alabama and didn't show up much. I'm not proud of it, and eventually I managed to get an honorable discharge, but it wasn't a shining moment in my life," then I'd be fine with the whole thing. ... But, he didn't. He claimed to have flown for several years in Texas after his training. A lie. He used his Guard service to claim he learned important life lessons - from his autobiography: "I can remember walking up to my F-102 fighter and seeing the mechanics there. I was on the same team as them, and I relied on them to make sure that I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. There was a sense of shared responsibility in that case. The responsibility to get the airplane down. The responsibility to show up and do your job." He then used his military service to justify the whole Flightsuit Boy Goes to the Aircraft Carrier Day, as his administration did their best to imply that he not only flew the plane but personally landed it (no, they never said so, but they were coy enough to encourage speculation and confusion). So, he made an issue of it - and, the issue is honesty. Simple."

Bush has granted the 9/11 Commission another 60 days (until late July) to finish its work (some victims family members would like it extended into 2005, but the Commission has said 60 days would be enough). However, the White House is still imposing "maddening" restrictions on important documents and the Commission may be forced to subpeona the necessary papers.

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