Thanks for the Memory to Blogs for Bush.
Ever since the RNC, the baying and howling for blood from the Democratic camp has been deafening. The battle cry has been "The gloves are off!" If you listen to the grating screeches of Susan Esterich, or read the scrawls and scratches from a thousand Liberal "pundits", that's the theme -- we're gonna dig up dirt on Bush, and fight the way the Republicans do.
My first reaction, as I believe I have stated, was incredulity that the left would think that the American public would actually believe them when they say they've been playing nice, given the tone of politics for the last five years. They've been slinging mud and out for Bush' blood since the last election. Nothing they've done has been nice, nothing about their fight has been fair.
My second response was annoyed expectation. LEt them try. They've been trying to nail Bush on something for this whole time. If there was anything valid with which to inmpugn him, we would have heard it by now. I expected rehashing of old lies, and I expected them to fail as miserably as the first time.
With the exception of the new Kitty Kelley book (and anyone who remembers that name knows she has the journalistic integrity of oh, the National Enquirer or the New York Times), the "mud" being slung has been the same as it was in the last election -- draft dodging, string-pulling, AWOL flyboy.
And thanks to the fact that they're pulling the same stunt as last time, we've had time to prepare for it this time. A new article in the Hill points out just how inaccurate the claims against the President are:
First of all, the claim that he failed to fullfil his service IN the Guard:
The future president joined the Guard in May 1968. Almost immediately, he began an extended period of training. Six weeks of basic training. Fifty-three weeks of flight training. Twenty-one weeks of fighter-interceptor training.
That was 80 weeks to begin with, and there were other training periods thrown in as well. It was full-time work. By the time it was over, Bush had served nearly two years.
Not two years of weekends. Two years.
After training, Bush kept flying, racking up hundreds of hours in F-102 jets. As he did, he accumulated points toward his National Guard service requirements. At the time, guardsmen were required to accumulate a minimum of 50 points to meet their yearly obligation.
According to records released earlier this year, Bush earned 253 points in his first year, May 1968 to May 1969 (since he joined in May 1968, his service thereafter was measured on a May-to-May basis).
Bush earned 340 points in 1969-1970. He earned 137 points in 1970-1971. And he earned 112 points in 1971-1972. The numbers indicate that in his first four years, Bush not only showed up, he showed up a lot. Did you know that?
But... but... Alabama! AWOL!
Bush asked for permission to go to Alabama to work on a Senate campaign. His superior officers said OK. Requests like that weren’t unusual, says retired Col. William Campenni, who flew with Bush in 1970 and 1971.
So Bush stopped flying. From May 1972 to May 1973, he earned just 56 points — not much, but enough to meet his requirement.
Then, in 1973, as Bush made plans to leave the Guard and go to Harvard Business School, he again started showing up frequently.
In June and July of 1973, he accumulated 56 points, enough to meet the minimum requirement for the 1973-1974 year.
Then, at his request, he was given permission to go. Bush received an honorable discharge after serving five years, four months and five days of his original six-year commitment. By that time, however, he had accumulated enough points in each year to cover six years of service.
But.... but.... Avoiding Vietnam!
“In 1972, there was an enormous glut of pilots,” Campenni says. “The Vietnam War was winding down, and the Air Force was putting pilots in desk jobs. In ’72 or ’73, if you were a pilot, active or Guard, and you had an obligation and wanted to get out, no problem. In fact, you were helping them solve their problem.”
There is plenty more to the article, and I recommend you read it. There are several points that have been made in other places that also back up this more positive view of the president's service, but since I don't have the sources, I'm not going to risk misquoting them.
Bush did not make his service a campaign issue. Bush's opponents did. Kerry DID make his OWN record a campaign issue. And that is proving his undoing. And, as the article says, "it should be noted in passing that Kerry has personally questioned Bush’s service, while Bush has not personally questioned Kerry’s."
So the next time the Democrats tell you, "No more Mr. Nice Guy," just tell them we never were fooled by that mask to begin with.
Update (yes, already!):
Thanks for the Memory to Blogfather Rusty at MyPetJawa (ring kissing will commence forthwith).
Still not satisfied that he wasn't AWOL in Alabama? OK, how about an interview with another AANG officer who says Bush showed up?