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February 23, 2004

VOLUNTEERING FOR VIETNAM....I've gotten a couple of emails claiming that RNC chairman Marc Racicot was on NPR this morning and said (paraphrasing), "President Bush volunteered for duty in Vietnam, but wasn't chosen."

Did anyone else hear this? Did Racicot really have to gall to say this?

You know, I'm fine with Bush's supporters saying his National Guard duty was finished honorably, and I'm fine with them attacking John Kerry's record on national security. That's what they're supposed to do.

But claiming that Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam? When he specifically declined to volunteer for overseas duty when he joined the Guard in 1968? Give me a break.

UPDATE: Yep, he said it. Josh Marshall has more here.

Posted by Kevin Drum at February 23, 2004 10:23 AM | TrackBack


Comments

Absolutely 100-frickin'-percent true. Juan Williams sat there like a lump.

Posted by: BudMan at February 23, 2004 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

They're hoping if they repeat it often enough people will start to believe it.

There's a problem though, that little box on the form that says "do not volunteer". Kind of hard to get around that.

Posted by: four legs good at February 23, 2004 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

This story is currently on Talking Points Memo.

Posted by: Bob at February 23, 2004 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Probably referring to this....

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bush072899.htm

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.

He was turned down on the spot. "I did [ask] – and I was told, 'You're not going,' " Bush said.

Only pilots with extensive flying time – at the outset, 1,000 hours were required – were sent overseas under the voluntary program. The Air Force, moreover, was retiring the aging F-102s and had ordered all overseas F-102 units closed down as of June 30, 1970.
--------------------
No doubt this is all meticulously documented as well

Posted by: Norbizness at February 23, 2004 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

It's currently the lead story at talkingpointsmemo.com.

Posted by: Moniker at February 23, 2004 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

God, the Democratic campaign ads are writing themselves.

Posted by: apostropher at February 23, 2004 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who volunteered to go to Vietnam was sent there.

Period. End of the story.

And people wonder why we hate lying Republicans?

Posted by: Dark Avenger at February 23, 2004 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Yup, I heard it myself. Just before I wisely turned off the radio as Cokie Roberts was about to come on. And, yup, Juan Williams didn't follow up. In fact, I'm not sure Juan ever follows up on anything. He seems always to just read questions off his written notes, then move on to the next question. Why does this man have a job?

Posted by: Dan Perreten at February 23, 2004 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

"A Charge to Keep" claims that GWB did volunteer -- in 1970, I think -- for Palace Alert. (Apparently the program was discontinued before he had enough flying hours to qualify.) For whatever it's worth, several squadron mates from his earlier TANG days are now confirming this; if anything in the recently released records confirms or discredits it, I haven't come across it. Of course, in the context of GWB's life, volunteering for combat duty seems as intuitively ridiculous as his stint at PULL in 1973, but it seems to be something that for the moment can't be disproved.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 23, 2004 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

That's it. No more money from me for NPR until they lose Juan Williams. That claim by Racicot should have been called into question by Williams, and not meekly passed over. I want reporters dammit, not PR facilitators.

Posted by: David W. at February 23, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Slightly OT:

On the USA today site with the latest Bush records the following document is unavailable:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/bushdocs/4-Grade_Determination.pdf

Does anyone have a copy or know where it is posted?

thanks in advance,

Posted by: ftm at February 23, 2004 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Is this better or worse than Delay claiming he couldn't go because minorities had already filled all the available spots?

Posted by: Matt at February 23, 2004 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

I can corroborate this as well. But even more galling was the constant stream of spin and lies out of Racicot's mouth. How about the bit about unemployment going down (without a mention of people not being counted)? Or the part about how EVERY SINGLE OTHER NATION agreed with our analysis that Iraq held WMD? Hello? What about what Blix was saying at the time? I was ranting in the car on my drive to work this morning - not good...

Thanks NPR.

Posted by: PigInZen at February 23, 2004 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

Williams is just throwing softballs the same way Judy Woodruff threw them at Kerry.

Posted by: Meatss at February 23, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

As Mr. Big said last night - abso-fuckin-lutely. I heard the whole thing as well.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Bush did volunteer, as Norbizness noted above, that Bush did volunteer at some point. But that pilots had to have 500 hours to qualify. Bush had only 300 at the time so there was no way it would be approved.

Posted by: MikeR at February 23, 2004 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: Give me a break.

The only break those blokes will give you, is a broken head with their lies.

Bush's handlers¹ are going to do everything possible to frame boy-george as someone who roped mountain lines and treed bears rather than the truth: he was a sissy cheerleader.

So they are following Hitler's dictum: Lie big and lie often.

That's why when the word brownshirt started appearing in Calpundit message posts...I didn't complain like some others.

The truth for this heinious admininstration...ain't that far away from that wicked noun.


¹ In this Admininstration...everyone is a handler.



Posted by: -pea- at February 23, 2004 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

"Tried to volunteer" isn't the same as "volunteered".

By the way, you know who else got a honorable discharge from the Guard? The D.C. Sniper. And that was after two court-martials, one for going AWOL.

Posted by: boloboffin at February 23, 2004 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall has updated, and it seems that GWB's claim may be true, but only technically.

Posted by: penalcolony at February 23, 2004 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

You can hear the Marc Racicot NPR piece here

http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1692558

Posted by: elvis56 at February 23, 2004 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Poor Bush. The man volunteers to go to Vietnam, and can't even make it there. Surely this says everything we want to know about the competence of our present Commander in Chief. In fact, he probably volunteered not to take all that profit from Harkin, too, sensing that it might smack of downright favoritism to the President's son, but was forced to do it by his evil friends.

It is just so hard when you are Pinocchio at the Candy Cane fair.

Posted by: roger at February 23, 2004 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

and here is the document where Bush checked Do Not Volunteer for Overseas Service
http://www.takebackthemedia.com/images/donotbush.gif

Posted by: elvis56 at February 23, 2004 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I heard it too on my way to work. I couldn't believe there wasn't ANY follow up to that answer. Seems to me there have been more than a couple of super-softball interviews with Repubs lately on NPR. Do they condition their agreement to do an interview on a no-follow up question allowed basis?

I almost ran into the car ahead of me...then to have Cokie follow the Juan Williams piece...thank goodness I had BNL in the CD player to snap me out of my ranting-at-the-radio mood.

Posted by: Baaaa at February 23, 2004 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

He said it alright...

Here's the link to the audio:

http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1692558

Posted by: captainliberal at February 23, 2004 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he didn't know Vietnam was overseas.

Posted by: Matt Davis at February 23, 2004 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall reported it:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_02_22.html#002594

Facts don't matter. It's what you say that makes things, er, true.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

At this point, the culture in Republican politics (with the press playing its role as willing conduit) is so corroded and corrupted that I'm not even sure they know when they are lying anymore.

I don't even know how else to explain it. I really think they believe what they are saying is true, because they have gotten so used to being able to say whatever they want, and make whatever wishes, theories, and ideologies appear as facts by isolating themselves with yes-men and idealogues. And then their statements go unchallenged when they venture into the "real" world.

I'm so exasperated by it all, I cannot even get upset anymore....I am actually starting to excuse them. Please put me out of my misery.

Posted by: Mr Furious at February 23, 2004 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Williams has suffered a brain-meld after his stint at FOXNEWS, and is wholly incapable of discerning lies offered up by Repub operatives...witness the truly pathetic job he did "interviewing" Dick Cheney some weeks ago, where Cheney let fly a boatload of whoppers, entirely unremarked upon by Williams. You can try contacting the NPR ombudsman, but don't expect NPR's "reporters" to return to the basic principles of journalism any time soon.

Posted by: barrisj at February 23, 2004 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Poor George ... he couldn't beg his way to Vietnam.

Posted by: Paul at February 23, 2004 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Prove it.
Let's see the documentation.
If not - shut up. One who's credibility is thoroughly spent, can make any claim they want. But I must have proof.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 23, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Furious,

I believe the word you're looking for is "Demagogue" or some variation thereof.

:)

Posted by: amjbar28 at February 23, 2004 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

If he had wanted to go so bad, why did he join the Guard in the first place?

He didn't want to go at all.

Got a tinfoil hat? Check out the "agricultural and mining company" called Stratford of Texas that W. worked for while in the Guard. They were the ones he allegedly TOOK his F-102 from Houston to Orlando Florida, for.

Does anyone else find it weird that they would let someone take a multi-million dollar plane to Flordia, so he could work on his agribusiness job?

That doesn't ring true to me, but it's reported in the Washington Post back in 1999, and I've never heard a denial. Could be BS, but it's interesting.

Also interesting is the fact that the people who founded Stratford of Texas were ex-Zapata Oil execs. Zapata was George Bush Sr's company, and was widely used as a front for CIA operations...most notably the Bay of Pigs, which was called (wait for it) Operation Zapata, in which George Bush Sr. allegedly provided two ships, called the Houston and the Barbara J. which were used in the landings.

W supposedly travelled with his boss to their farm in Guatemala in the early 1970s, just as the death squads were getting warmed up.

I find that interesting.

Where was the Stratford of Texas farm in Guatemala? Anybody know? Was it one of the old Bay of Pigs spots, or something completely innocent?

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

He also repeated the recurring lie that the recession started under Clinton. Again, no rebuttal.

Posted by: Ted at February 23, 2004 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Blogged it this morning:

http://an-age-like-this.blogspot.com/2004_02_01_an-age-like-this_archive.html#107753973167838881

And, as someone else pointed out, Juan Williams sat there like a blob.

Posted by: Susan Paxton at February 23, 2004 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Lest we forget, let's consider the source of this new canard. It's the same smarmy character who played Charlie McCarthy for Bushco during the 2000 election theft, and was rewarded with his RNC post while being allowed to keep his lobbying contract with Enron, as I recall.

As a veteran, an opponent of both wars--Vietnam and Iraq-- I consider Racicot's prevarication an open invitation to examine his own service. This is what I found:

"Marc Racicot, like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rep. Tom Delay and many in the Bush administration, is a chickenhawk. These are fellows who evaded the draft of the Vietnam Era but who are now beating the drums of war."

See http://www.billingsnews.com/printStory?storyid=3182

Juan Williams should have asked Racicot if he volunteered for Vietnam.

"What did you do in the war, Daddy?"

"I went to the dentist in Alabama."

Posted by: Bongo at February 23, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

And keep in mind, NPR is the limousine, liberal, elitist media outlet.

With media like this on our side, who needs...Fox?

I used to think Cokie was OK. Years ago. She taught me to beware of anyone who starts an answer to a question with the word "look." What's so bad about that? Look, I think it's slightly insulting, as if we don't have the intellectual capacity to get their point without it being pointed out.

Look! Now I'm off topic!

Posted by: John Lyon at February 23, 2004 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Willimas has failed to challenge outrageous claims by conservatives long before he worked for Faux News. I remember when he first took over as host for TOTN on NPR. Consistently, he allowed conservatives to make unchallenged statements, and on the occasion that there was anybody to ballance these views, when they were about to make their clinching argument revealing the conservative pundits argument as a fraud, Juan Williams would cut them off claiming that the listeners were not interested in such details. I am not making this up!

Posted by: John Lee at February 23, 2004 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I also was turned down for Viet Nam duty but I was already on a Polaris submarine. I don't think it's quite the same for dubya.

Posted by: redcane at February 23, 2004 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Racicot said Bush volunteered for Vietnam, but wasn't sent. Williams took it as gospel and moved on to the next item.

Posted by: Rusty at February 23, 2004 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

From Bush's "Meet the Press" interview, Feb 8:

Russert: Were you favor of the war in Vietnam?

President Bush: I supported my government. I did. And would have gone had my unit been called up, by the way.

Russert: But you didn't volunteer or enlist to go.

President Bush: No, I didn't. You're right.

Posted by: dbtm at February 23, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I heard it. It amazed me then. It amazes me now. "George Bush volunteered for duty in Vietnam, but he wasn't chosen."

Posted by: sgrey at February 23, 2004 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, hypocrite Drum hasn't said a word about Kerry's non-release of HIS records.

Why hasn't KERRY released all his military records?

RELEASE THE RECORDS, SENATOR!

Posted by: Al at February 23, 2004 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I still have a little bit of heartburn about the claim that "his National Guard duty was finished honorably." As I recall, he got his "gratuitous" 15 points during his last (partial) year of service WITHOUT having first earned 50 points, as was required.

In other words, his duty WASN'T finished honorably, it was finished the way it started: with someone pulling strings to get him around it.

Posted by: bleh at February 23, 2004 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Not only did Racincot claim that he Bush volunteered to go to Vietnam but also allowed as how Bush had volunteered for "hazardous duty". NPR attack gerbil and FOX "news" personality Williams let it slide right by with nary a question or comment. You can listen to the whole godawful interview if you must at www.npr.org. YOu can also leave them a comment if you wish.

Posted by: Hexnut at February 23, 2004 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Can we start an email campaign to NPR? I know they're not perfect, but they're still marginally more trustworthy than the TV news people. It would be cool if they had to publicly admit there were lapses in judgement when a lie like that was allowed to go unchallenged.

NPR may be the last mainstream source of decent news. We need to keep them honest, or we'll lose them.

Posted by: peejay at February 23, 2004 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Some accounts have Bush volunteering, in a fashion, for the Palace Alert program maybe in 1972, which would have put him overseas. But it's an odd account, told by one person, who I think was his C.O. in the NG. Bush didn't have nearly the training or flight hours required to qualify, plus Palace Alert had been phased out.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Juan Williams failed to follow the DNC talking point and lie and call Marc Racicot a lier. What the hell are my tax dollars going for at NPR?

Posted by: Fed up at February 23, 2004 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

It's true that Bush volunteered for the Palace Alert program - at least, it seems to be supported by everything I've seen on this - and I assume that's what Racicot is referring to. But he really should be more careful there - it's not the same as if he'd volunteered for overseas duty when he signed on, and he probably knew at the time that he wasn't going to get accepted, given the requirements.

BTW, though, the two aren't inconsistent . . . it seems clear that Bush joined the Guard in large part to avoid combat in Vietnam. But it's hardly unreasonable to think that after training on the F-102, he was willing to go. (Insert standard caveat here: ignore this if your standard response is "Bush BAAAAD"). The bottom line is, the GOP shouldn't see the Palace Alert thing as anything but a small point in defense of the bogus attacks on Bush's Guard service, and it will boomerang nastily if people start making it out like he actually made a serious effort to serve in Vietnam.

Posted by: Crank at February 23, 2004 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Did Racicot say what side Shrub volunteered for? If he volunteered for the Vietnamese side, of course he'd be rejected. He was incompetent.

Williams is a jackass. He is a commentator on Faux News Sunday. Or at least he was.

It's amusing that NPR has him on. SHows what shills they are for the right wingnuts.

Posted by: raj at February 23, 2004 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

with regard to Cokie Roberts: I stopped believing what she said 'way back when the first allegations came out about Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. When they first came out, I remember Roberts prognosticating that the game was over, that Clinton would resign "within a week." It wasn't so bad that she was guessing as she was but she sounded so smarmy about it, quite self-righteous, almost as if she were *defining* the issue. Clinton was a lot of things, good and bad, but foremost he was a fighter, in a different league entirely. And it would take someone of greater omniscience than Cokie Roberts to suggest whether or not he'd be able to remain in the game (as subsequent events showed).

Posted by: sgrey at February 23, 2004 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

What we really need is an investigation of whether or not John Kerry committed a war crime by killing a wounded Viet Cong. The story is very fishy and Kerry needs to be asked about it just as Bob Kerrey was forced to admit to war crimes. We are going to be holding war crimes trials for Saddam Hussein, possibly bin Laden, and many others and a president who can be credibly charged with war crimes himself will only further weaken American prestige.

Posted by: Eveline at February 23, 2004 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

The assumption among the posters is that Racicot told an outrageous lie. The only reason you all can sustain that is because Juan Williams did not challenge him.

Think a minute. If Williams, instead of playing dead, says "He volunteered? When?", Racicot has to go with Bush's half-hearted application back in 1970 to some 'Nam flying program. Then the story becomes dubious spin of old news. Ho hum. It's what party chairmen do.

But Williams, by holding his peace, allows the seeming lie to hang out there, with no context for cover. And that lets the comment be the story.

So. Dount be mad at poor Mr. Williams. He did the Dems a small favor.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 23, 2004 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Yes - he said it. I heard it. I emailed
ombudsman@npr.org and told them to start acting like journalist and question these lies.
Lets all send emails to

ombudsman@npr.org

Posted by: GD at February 23, 2004 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

It should be obvious now that the Bush administration is intentionally bungling this issue because they want it to flame up and burn out now so that everyone is sick of vietnam by the election.

Why else would they release one document a day for a week before the dump, and engage is such bald faced lies.

Its actually fairly clever.

Posted by: Jon at February 23, 2004 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

And the liberals kept W from going to Nam, 'cause they knew that he would have defeated the Cong, and the libs didn't want that, 'cause THEY HATE AMERICA!

Posted by: Al at February 23, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Boy, you guys are going to really hit the roof when it is revealed that John Kerry attempted to AVOID service in Vietnam by requesting approval from his draft board to spend a year studying in FRANCE when he graduated college.
The draft borad turned him down.......

But that story is probably just 'technically' true as well.....

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 23, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Keister Sausey,

If that's true, it is irrelevant.

Kerry may not have wanted to serve, but he did.

Got that? He went to Vietnam and risked his life fighting the Commies while George W. Bush dated Tricia Nixon and played tennis with Congressmen.

Nice try, but you'll have to do better.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Keiser:

Your allegation needs a link.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 23, 2004 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

"But it's hardly unreasonable to think that after training on the F-102, he was willing to go."

No, that's not unreasonable at all, considering that the F-102 was a pure interceptor, not a fighter bomber--meaning that it was useful only for air-to-air combat. There wasn't much of that going on in Vietnam except in the very first stages of the war. I've seen various account that conflict as to whether the last F-102s were withdrawn from Vietnam in 1968 or 1969.

So if GWB volunteered to go to Vietnam at the end of his pilot training in 1970, he did so secure in the knowledge that he wouldn't be sent. It would be perfectly in character for him to volunteer under those circumstances.

Posted by: rea at February 23, 2004 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

And at 50 years of age Clark was still at it...
------------------------------------------------

In August 1995, the general—three stars, working as J-5 for the Joint Chiefs—went to Bosnia as part of the negotiating team Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had put together to end the civil war that had resulted in the massacre of as many as eight thousand Muslim men and boys at the town of Srebrenica the month before. In Belgrade, Clark had met for the first time Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who was sponsoring the Bosnian Serbs. Now the team had to travel to Sarajevo. Told that the airport in Sarajevo was too dangerous to fly into, the team decided to drive and asked Milosevic to guarantee its safety on a road held by Bosnian Serbs. Milosevic did not, and so the team wound up taking a fortified Humvee and an armored personnel carrier on a pitched, narrow, winding mountain road notoriously vulnerable to Serb machine-gun fire. Clark and Holbrooke went in the Humvee, the rest in the APC. In his book, the general describes what happened this way: "At the end of the first week we had a tragic accident on Mount Igman, near Sarajevo. [Three members of the team] were killed when the French armored personnel carrier in which they were riding broke through the shoulder of the road and tumbled several hundred meters down a steep hillside."

It is not until one reads Holbrooke's book, To End a War, that one finds out that after the APC went off the road, Clark grabbed a rope, anchored it to a tree stump, and rappelled down the mountainside after it, despite the gunfire that the explosion of the APC set off, despite the warnings that the mountainside was heavily mined, despite the rain and the mud, and despite Holbrooke yelling that he couldn't go. It is not until one brings the incident up to the general that one finds out that the burning APC had turned into a kiln, and that Clark stayed with it and aided in the extraction of the bodies; it is not until one meets Wesley Clark that one understands the degree to which he held Milosevic accountable.

Posted by: FUBAR at February 23, 2004 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another report that Bush did volunteer. You're free to disbelieve it, but it seems credible.

Posted by: Jim at February 23, 2004 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, that was in the Newsweek article last week : Bush volunteered for Vietnam. The article also said that Kerry was wounded three times for injuries that most people would have just walked away from. Nice case of objective journalism, that Newsweek cover story.

Posted by: Ed at February 23, 2004 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Campenni has already been discredited, I believe. He's a GOP flack, IIRC.

If someone can produce EVIDENCE that Bush put in for Palace Alert, like a sheet of paper with his name on it that shows this, I will believe it.

Until then, I won't.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Anyone who volunteered to go to Vietnam was sent there."

Wrong.

With the next post's link to dave neiwert, I think it's official: Kevin is no longer a good guy of the left, he's now trying to be the new Hatrios.

Posted by: Lonewacko at February 23, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Bush volunteered for service in Vietnam?

So you mean he really did volunteer for the Army, Navy, or Air Force, and only took a position in the National Guard because the services involved in actual combat wouldn't take him?

That's an interesting story! Changes my view of the man. Why are we just hearing about it?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Oh the Irony is Sweet.

Campenni was in Pittsburgh while W was in Texas.

Here's a link for ya.

The Irony is that the Hijackers were threatening to CRASH AN AIRLINER into a building. Didn't Condi Rice say that NOBODY had ever thought about that before 9/11?

These people are supposed to be in charge?

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Keiser Sousa at February 23, 2004 12:03 PM

A year deferral would have been up long before the end of the war.

Idiot.

Posted by: raj at February 23, 2004 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

Repeat:

Bush did NOT volunteer for Vietnam. He did not want to go to Vietnam, Sam I am.

Bush on the National Guard:

"I'm saying to myself, 'What do I want to do?' I think I don't want to be an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam. What I do decide to want to do is learn to fly."
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 1989

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1990

"I don't want to play like I was somebody out there marching when I wasn't. It was either Canada or the service. ... Somebody said the Guard was looking for pilots. All I know is, there weren't that many people trying to be pilots."
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nov. 29, 1998

So, there you have it. Out of his own mouth.

Please stop implying that he did, or outright lying that he did? He may have expressed interest in Palace Alert to another pilot, but that is a LONG EFFING WAY from putting his signature on the application papers.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Forgive me...I did not read all the above posts in this thread, so if it's aready been mentioned:

"...May 1984, he told the Houston Chronicle: "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."


I haven't attempted to verify this statement yet, though it is on numerous sites, but if true this has to account for something regarding his supposed offer to tour in 'Nam', no?

Posted by: whynot at February 23, 2004 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

That's a good one- someone volunteered for Vietnam and didn't get sent? Tell it to the Marines.....

Posted by: serial catowner at February 23, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Is there a single record of Bush ever claiming he volunteered to go to Vietnam? If not, all of this begins to seem like an exercise in bogosity.

Posted by: appalled moderate at February 23, 2004 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

This is the kind of story (Bush's campaign manager lying) that is hard to get into the news -- but, as others have said, just wait 'til we get a commercial with the "do not volunteer" box on the TV screen alongside Racicot's quote...

Posted by: Eazy at February 23, 2004 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Some of the fleas are getting hysterical. Bitching about Keey's Purple Hearts and his request to study overseas is ridiculous.

Posted by: Al at February 23, 2004 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Some of the fleas are getting hysterical. Bitching about Keey's Purple Hearts and his request to study overseas is ridiculous.

Yup. Weird, huh?

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Great letter in the NYTIMES today:

Missing in the uproar over President Bush's service in the National Guard (news article, Feb. 18) is recognition that another mother's son, whose name may be engraved on the wall in Washington, probably had to serve in Mr. Bush's place.

Enlisting in the National Guard to be a weekend soldier is an honorable thing to do. Enlisting in the Guard to avoid the draft and using influence to bypass hundreds of other applicants, thereby forcing someone else to serve in Vietnam, may be legal but hardly honorable.

ENO BAGNOLI
Elmira, N.Y., Feb. 18, 2004

Posted by: JKU at February 23, 2004 01:04 PM | PERMALINK

Two men got called up to serve in Bill Clinton's place. He dodged TWO draft notices. (And lied about them.) Never seemed to bother the NY Times or any Democrats.

Posted by: Astrid at February 23, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Boy, you guys are going to really hit the roof when it is revealed that John Kerry attempted to AVOID service in Vietnam by requesting approval from his draft board to spend a year studying in FRANCE when he graduated college.
The draft borad turned him down......."

Ummm... Kerry was never drafted. He volunteered.

Posted by: dn at February 23, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

From Jed Babbins Feb. 19 article in the National Review Online:

Of the four pilots I spoke to who flew with Bush in the Texas days, Fred Bradley knew him best. They had met before going off to the year-long ordeal of pilot school, and entered the 111th at about the same time. Both were junior lieutenants without a lot of flying experience. But the inexperience didn't prevent Bush — along with Bradley — from going to their squadron leaders to see if they could get into a program called "Palace Alert." "There were four of us lieutenants at the time, and we were all fairly close. Two of them had more flight time than the president and me, said Bradley." All four volunteered for Vietnam (Bradley doesn't remember whether he and Bush actually signed paperwork, but he specifically remembers both Bush and himself trying to get into the Palace Alert Vietnam program.) Bush and Bradley were turned away, and the two more senior pilots went to Vietnam.

http://www.nationalreview.com/babbin/babbin.asp

Posted by: JG at February 23, 2004 01:10 PM | PERMALINK

"That's a good one- someone volunteered for Vietnam and didn't get sent? Tell it to the Marines."

FWIW, my father, Grumpy Sr., tells me that he volunteered to go to Vietnam but got drunk the night before his helicopter pilot's exam. Flunked out, got stationed in Europe instead. Met his wife there, and the rest is Grumpy family history.

God bless alcoholism. And God bless George W. Bush, America's #1 alcoholic (recovering).

Posted by: Grumpy at February 23, 2004 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

Astrid,

There's a pretty big difference between Clinton and Bush.

Clinton was AGAINST the war, and thought no American soldier should have to die in Vietnam for that pointless and fruitless war.

Bush, on the other hand, was a die-hard supporter of the war (if, of course, by die-hard one means that someone else should die). Young men of his own age were being forced into service to fight a war they did NOT believe in, while Bush, yellow bellow that he is, had his Daddy's good friends pull strings so that he would NOT see actual combat. So Bush thought that young men should go off and risk their lives in Vietnam while he safely flew the skies of Texas.

If this doesn't define cowardice, what does?

Pretty big difference.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. He volunteered for duty in Operation Palace Alert, which members of his unit were already participating in. Was turned down for too few fligh hours (1000 hours were required).

But hey, don't let that get in the way of your bash-fest...

Posted by: Paul in AZ at February 23, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

Just to follow up on my previous post: it is the COWARDICE of Chickenhawks that drives people with a sense of honor to despise them so very much.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 01:20 PM | PERMALINK

"That's a good one- someone volunteered for Vietnam and didn't get sent? Tell it to the Marines....."

Well, of course, he didn't volunteer to go as a Marine--he supposedly volunteered to go as an F-102 pilot, at a time when the military had more slots in its Vietnam order of battle for pastry chefs than for F-102 pilots.

Posted by: rea at February 23, 2004 01:24 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that Gillespie slipped this by yesterday morninag on one of the pundit shows also.

Posted by: JimmiRayBob at February 23, 2004 01:24 PM | PERMALINK

Astrid, don't waste our time. If you think that the NY Times was never critical of Clinton on Vietnam, you shouldn't advertise your ignorance by posting here.

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 01:24 PM | PERMALINK

Paul in AZ,

If Bush had a SINCERE interest in going to Vietnam to do his patriotic duty, given his own support of the war, why didn't he just join the Navy as Kerry did? Or the Marines? Or the Army? Or the Air Force?

Or am I just interrupting your lame-excuse fest for Bush?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 01:24 PM | PERMALINK

And Paul,

Why do you spend your time defending the supposed honor of a demonstrated coward like Bush?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

Your forbearance, please, as I posted the following info on F-102s as discussed on the various blogs (IntelDump, Tacitus, and here) at the VERY end of Kevin's "National Guard Finale?" thread of last week.

Although it belonged there, my timing was bad. But I'm only as good as my sources, and my source wasn't available for interviewing earlier. Here is what I found out [text of earlier post follows]:


I had a chance yesterday to speak with my dad, now in his late seventies, about some of the aviation factoids I've read here and on Tacitus. He was career Navy and a test pilot etc., etc. I was especially eager to run some of National Guard and flying issues past him. (Toward this end, could someone kindly post those performance and other records again. I will get his comments and share them here. Am new to the b-sphere and don't have quite the facility I would like with the archives and linking.)

Over on Tacitus, for example, this bit of hyperbole about the F-102:

"Frankly, I'd rather spend 4 months in a Swift Boat in the Mekong Delta than several years flying an F-102, the world's first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor and, devilishly tricky to fly by all accounts."

Perhaps someone can help me locate another authoritative-sounding post about the F-102 (everytime I start a search I keep losing my Comments text). Someone, perhaps Charlie Colorado, got a little rhapsodic about the flying skills required to fly one [N.B.: It was an IntelDump claim.--paxr55].

Anyway, the upshot. The F-102s (called the Delta Dagger, with short stubby fixed wings) were built by Convair, the same San Diego firm that built the Atlas missiles. My Dad flew them in the late 1950s and early 1960s to maintain his proficiency and hours, which as everyone now knows, active-duty pilots are required to do.

Was it a "devilishly tricky" airplane to fly? I asked him. No, he said, in the voice he uses to end debate. It was "heavy." Was it "tricky" to fly. No. Same voice.

Next factoid: Was it called "the Widowmaker?" I asked him. (One of the posters, I think here in another thread, made reference to this fearsome moniker, in discussing Lt. Bush's flying credentials.)

No (in that same voice reserved for dismissing falsehoods). That was the F-104, he said. Moreover, the F-104 [N.B.: manufactured by the Lockheed.--paxr55] was called the Widowmaker, my dad explained, NOT by U.S. pilots but by the Luftwaffe in the 1950s (the U.S. sold them to the West German air force). He said there were training issues at the time in the Luftwaffe, which led to accidents and deaths--in West Germany. The F-106 was special: It came with a cool pin that said you had flown Mach 2 in level flight because that's how fast it went when you stepped on the gas (here my dad would correct my terminology in that voice he reserves for idiots).

Incidentally, it was Chuck Yeager who tested the F-104; Hank Hancock., my dad reports, was the first naval aviator to fly it. And he had to go to Edwards to do so. Also, Yeager's spectacular crash described in THE RIGHT STUFF and shown in the movie, involved the F-104--the scene where he walks out of the fireball on the desert floor.

Now, I can't imagine that any of Bush's defenders in the blogoshpere would compare the man to Chuck Yeager or Hank Hancock, or any other test pilot in the Navy or the Air Force today or forty years ago. But from what I've read, their posts have misrepresented both the F-102 AND the skill required to fly one. The plane had been fully tested. It was a "heavy" plane. It was not "devilishly tricky" to fly, at least according to my father. It wasn't even "tricky." It was used as a proficiency trainer as early as 1959. That the F-102 was used in the National Guard by third-string pilots at the end of its useful life in the fleet also speaks to its dependability, ca. 1968-1971.

I am not dissing Guard pilots, and my father would NEVER use a term like "third-string" (that is my smart-aleck editorializing in response to the hyperbole from the so-called aviation experts who have held forth here, with no rebuttal). I'm merely encouraging the rhapsodizers to refrain from misrepresenting the facts and from hyping Lt. Bush's ostensible flying skills.

Anyone have that link to performance records?

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

i heard this, and i thought, as i clicked off the radio (in disgust) before juan williams could not follow up ...

... this is a trade taking place ... kerry will not raise bush's service, and bush will not raise kerry's war protesting.

Posted by: what rough beast at February 23, 2004 01:28 PM | PERMALINK

I can see the ads and the debates now. Thanks, Marc, you do good work.

Posted by: meme at February 23, 2004 01:33 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who volunteered to go to Vietnam was sent there.

Period. End of the story.

From my personal experience with the USMC this is a lie.

When is Kerry going to release all of his military records?

Ummm... Kerry was never drafted. He volunteered.

When you get a clue of how the draft worked in the 1960's and 1970's let us know. Until then sit there quietly.

If you were a warm body and draftable in those days you had a choice: join something, get another deferment, or get drafted. People were doing anything and everything to keep from being drafted by getting some kind of deferment. There were a small range of options. Kerry tried one and failed and had to join the least life threatening branch of service he could in order to avoid the draft. (The AF and Coast Guard always were full and so was the NG in most areas). Clinton was successful in getting deferred. Nothing wrong with that. Do not hold up Kerry as some kind of holy man because he volunteered. I did and so did lots of others because they wanted to control where they went.


Volunteering to join the Navy or Air Force, at that time, was similar to joining the NG except that you didn't get to stay at home. The chances of someone shooting at you in the Navy or the AF were considerably less than if you were in the Marines or Army. Why didn't Kerry join the Marines or the Army if he was a real tough guy who wanted to fight for his country? We, who lived through those days, know why.

Kerry only spent 4 months out of a 13 month tour in Vietnam. Read about how he got out of Nam early in order to go home join in with Jane Fonda and stab his band of brothers in the back.

I just read about a Marine NCO in Iraq who was hurt and was being sent back to the states. He broke down and cried when he left his men and then worked the system to get sent back to Iraq and his unit. He somehow managed to get sent back. The Marine felt that he was deserting his men.

What did Kerry do after he left his men on the swift boats in Vietnam? Is that what you call Loyalty to your band of brothers? Do not make me laugh. He should shut up about Vietnam. He is disgusting.

Kerry should release his military records. I want investigate a couple of things. Bush released his. Kerry should release his.

Posted by: Dennis Slater at February 23, 2004 01:38 PM | PERMALINK

I guess it's not possible that Bush changed his mind, huh?

Maybe he didn't want to be in the infantry. Maybe he didn't have the courage to enlist and fight. He admitted as much.

But after completing pilot training, he began to feel guilty and therefore changed his mind. Maybe spending a year and a half in the company of military people made a big impression on him. Perhaps he began to feel that he belonged on the front lines. So he volunteered, but was turned down.

Is this so unbelieveable?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 01:39 PM | PERMALINK

Dennis Slater,

You leave me speechless -- well, almost. You're obviously trying to do everything you can to minimize Kerry's war heroism, but you can't bring yourself to address the obvious issue: WHY DIDN'T BUSH VOLUNTEER FOR THE NAVY, AIR FORCE, MARINES, OR THE ARMY, WHERE MIGHT SEE COMBAT, GIVEN THAT HE SUPPORTED THE WAR??

Well, let me tell you why: Bush was a yellow bellied Chickenhawk.

Why would a person of honor defend a demonstrated coward like Bush?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 23, 2004 01:45 PM | PERMALINK

From the interview: "He (i.e. the president) signed up for dangerous duty."

Yeah, in the jungles of Alabama maybe.

Posted by: Stuart Levine at February 23, 2004 01:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. He volunteered for duty in Operation Palace Alert, which members of his unit were already participating in. Was turned down for too few fligh hours (1000 hours were required).

Please, someone, PROVE that Bush volunteered for Palace Alert. That he put his name to paper and signed his willingness to go.

Bush was DESPERATE to get into the Guard. He had only DAYS left on his deferment, and got accepted because strings were pulled to get him in. This is documented fact, from Ben Barnes, Lt. Gov of Texas, under oath.

If he did volunteer, that is laudable. I think he TALKED about volunteering, but never did. At least, that's what the record shows at this point.

Kerry served on a big ship in the Navy, and then volunteered for river boats because his idol, JFK, had served in that service.

He served honorably, was wounded fighting for his country, and then returned home. When he returned home, he learned of the DOCUMENTED atrocities committed by the US soldiers in Vietnam, and this turned him against the war. He spoke out about it, as every American HAS A RIGHT TO DO.

So those of you that feel that Kerry has something answer for regarding his testimony to Congress or his opposition to the war, step right up and SAY so.

Say that it's unpatriotic to question your country in a time of war. Say it. You obviously believe it.

I don't think it is unpatriotic. I think, in fact, that it's a damn courageous thing to do.

It's easy to keep silent when you know you're going to take heat for your beliefs. Cowards do that.

Kerry EARNED the right to question that war. Bush, on the other hand, managed to make damn sure he never got near it.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 01:50 PM | PERMALINK

The difference between 300 and 1000 flying hours suggests that Bush was in no way serious about this "volunteering." Given the amount of time he spent away from the Guard (no matter how you justify it), it hardly seems credible that he was trying to get to Vietnam. If I knew that a program I wanted to get into required hundreds more hours of flying time I certainly would bust my ass to get as many hours as I could. But then, that assumes that I really want to get into the program, not merely that I want to be able to lay claim to bravery that I didn't possess.

Bottom Line: it's easy to be brave when you don't have to back it up.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 01:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bush _did_ volunteer to go to Vietnam, according to a buddy of his; there were actually 4 of them who went to their comander, and 2 of them got chosen.
Just a sinister thought: What if he got dared into going to volunteer for Vietnam, but he _knew_ he did not have enough flight time, but knew also that a couple of his buddies had enough time...
One of them didn't make it back, I understand...

Posted by: me at February 23, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bush _did_ volunteer to go to Vietnam, according to a buddy of his; there were actually 4 of them who went to their comander, and 2 of them got chosen.

Link, please.

All I've seen is Hearsay that he applied. No documentation. When you apply for overseas duty, presumably you sign some paperwork.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

Truth is the central issue. In this case, truth about past wartime service, ca. 2004, when the U.S. is again at war. Bush's posturing, some of it predating the war, is now held up to greater scrutiny by the American people, many of whom have children or brothers or sisters overseas. I think this is fair.

I also think most Americans would agree that Vietnam was a crumby war--but the tipping point, if you will, in that sober realization was probably 1968, when Bush was graduating from Yale. In 1966, idealistic young men like Kerry, graduating from college, could probably have entertained notions of victory or glory in Southeast Asia. Not in 1968. I don't think Bush wanted to die an infantry soldier in the jungle. NO one wanted to die. But a lot of them did, tipping point or not. They were drafted. They had to go. That's the whole point of the debate: there are two Americas.

So what Bush THEN did, however, is the question which I think many Americans have resolved in their minds. And what he did involved personal connections, a safe stateside billet secured at someone else's expense, an expensive flight training education at taxpayers' expense, unrepaid by Bush in the form of service hours to country, and thirty years later, persistent accounts that his military records were cleansed for eventual political advantage.

A lot of Americans think this kind of behavior is wrong. It may be normal for the privileged to prosper at the expense of the poor and politically unconnected. But it doesn't make it right.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

If he did volunteer, that is laudable. I think he TALKED about volunteering, but never did. At least, that's what the record shows at this point.

Oh, it's entirely possible that he volunteered.  Pretty easy to do when Daddy has probably already put the word out: "If the fool boy volunteers for something,  just ignore him."

Back room politics all over the place no doubt.

Posted by: Bird Brain at February 23, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

dennis slater, your insults directed at kerry in lieu of actual discussion would be meaningful if the people that served under him weren't busy supporting him for president.

As for your rage about kerry coming back from vietnam to oppose the war: maybe you should direct it where it belongs, at LBJ, McNamara, Nixon, and Kissinger.

Kerry merely happened to be right: vietnam was a waste of american lives and treasure that had no strategic value whatsoever....

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 02:01 PM | PERMALINK

Monkey,

I too would like to see proof that Bush volunteered for the Palace Alert program. Timing and training both strongly suggest his volunteering would NOT have been possible.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 02:02 PM | PERMALINK

PaxR55:

I believe you have just struck the proverbial nail upon its noggin.

Posted by: Alli Gator at February 23, 2004 02:05 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I don't think it's fair to denegrate Bush becuase his unit flew the F-102. Several of my friends are military aviators, and as I understand it, military aviators don't get to choose the airplanes they fly; they are assigned to a particular unit which flys a particular airplane.

For instance, when one friend started Navy flight school, he wanted to fly F-18's or F-14's, i.e. fighter jets. This would have been dangerous but fun. Think "Top Gun." Also, since fighter pilots are widely regarded as the best of the best, it would have been fairly easy to get a job as a pilot for one of the major airlines if my friend decided to leave the Navy.

This friend wasn't a terribly good pilot, so he wound up getting assigned to the SH-60 Sea Knight helicopter instead of a fighter jet. The Sea Knight is essentially a flying boxcar. He was upset about this for two reasons. First, instead of living the "Top Gun" lifestyle and working as a glamorous fighter jock, flying faster than the speed of sound in a sophisticated and highly manuverable airplane, my friend would spend the next seven years delivering mail and spare parts to ships in a noisy, greasy, dangerous machine. Second, the odds that he'd be able to get a great job with the airlines decreased, as the market for civillian helicopter pilots is very, very limited. But that's what the Navy ordered him to do.

Another friend, who went to flight school at the same time, is an outstanding pilot and does fly F/A-18's for the Marine Corps.

A friend of a friend flew F-14's for several years, did a stint as a test pilot at Patuxent River (the Navy equivalent of Edwards AFB) and later wound up flying UAV's. He obviously didn't want to go from flying F-14 fighter jets off the deck of an aircraft carrier to flying UAV's, whcih are essentially giant model airplanes, but that's what the Navy ordede him to do. He subsequently left the Navy and became an astronaut.

Another friend of a friend graduated from the Air Force Academy near the top of his class. You'd think that because he did so well at the Academy, he'd be a shoo-in as an F-16 pilot, but you'd be wrong. He wound up flying the C-130, the giant propeller-driven cargo plane. He didn't even qualify to fly the B-1, B-2, or the B-52.

National guard and reserve pilots are subject ot even worse constraints. If you join the Texas National Guard, you are assigned to fly one of the planes in the Texas NG inventory. Maybe it's an F-102, or maybe it's a Cesena artillery spotter. It's not up to you, and you don't get to choose.

It is true that Bush could have enlisted in, say, the Army, but I don't think it's fair to fault him for flying the F-102, an obsolete aircraft which was not likely to be sent to Vietnam. You don't really get to choose the plane you are going to fly.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

Pax, thanks for the info regarding the flight characteristics of the F-102.

Posted by: nolo at February 23, 2004 02:06 PM | PERMALINK

Joe,

The 147th was called the Champange Unit, and Air Canada, by the PEOPLE IN IT.

Seven members of the Dallas Cowboys, several congressmen's sons, and several businessmen's sons who were connected to George HW Bush.

It was what it was.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

Factual accounts of jet aircraft are not denigrations of the Guard. They are badly needed rebuttals of false and/or hyperbolic blogging about the F-102 ca. 1968 and Lt. Bush's ostensible flying skills.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

I volunteered to go to Vietnam to kill kommies and eat their guts.

But I was too young, and they wouldn't let me go. I was 4 in 1972.

Posted by: Occam's Cuisinart at February 23, 2004 02:20 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe, you would make a good point if it weren't for the politics that surrounded Bush's entry into the guard. As others have already pointed out, this was the Champaign Unit – a unit designed to prevent those of wealth and privilege from going anywhere they might be harmed (while still getting to live the "top gun" lifestyle).

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 02:27 PM | PERMALINK

I don't deny that Bush could have gone to Vietnam by, say, enlisting in the Army or the Marines. That is true, and I do not dispute it.

What I do dispute is the notion that when Bush later volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam (if he actually did volunteer...) it was nothing but a cynical ploy.

Some people seem to be suggesting that Bush joined the the Texas NG to avoid serving in Vietnam (quite possible, and quite possibly true.) Bush next chose to be trained on the F-102 becuase it was obsolete and would probably not be sent to Vietnam (not true -- pilots does not choose the aircraft they fly; just ask my friend who wanted to be a fighter pilot but got stuck flying the mail helicopter instead. You don't choose your aircraft, the military chooses it for you.) Bush's Machivellian scheme culminated when he volunteered to join the Palace Guard program knowing that his unit flew an obsolete aircraft. Again, this cannot be true because Bush didn't get to choose what he would fly; the Texas NG made the choice for him.

I still think it is possible that Bush was not particularly gung-ho about the idea of Vietnam when he joined the NG, but later changed his mind and began to feel that he had a duty to serve. As a result, he volunteered for the Palace Guard program. I see no reason to doubt this hypothetical scenario.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 02:28 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, here's 4 reasons to doubt this "hypothetical" scenario: a.) as has already been noted, Bush was not even close to sufficient flight hours for his "volunteering" to mean anything; b.) by the time of this "volunteering," it was perfectly clear that someone was going to be the last person to die in a useless struggle - what convinces you that bush was prepared to be the last one to die?; c.) this supposed "volunteering" has a pretty funny timeline (But when you were asked do you want to go overseas, you said no.

I didn't know that. But I actually tried to go on a Palace Alert program.

That was later.

It was. After I became a pilot.

Palace Alert program was being phased out.

Not really, a couple of my buddies got to go. ...

... But they'd already graduated.

That's true. I couldn't go until actually I'd gotten my –

I was curious about the sequence. You got out of combat school on June 23, 1970. Palace Alert programs were all closed down overseas as of June 30. So could you have gone even if you signed up for it?

I guess not if that's the case, but I remember going to see [the supervisor] to try to get signed up for it. You just ask the commander to put you in. He said you can't go because you're too low on the totem pole. I'm not trying to make this thing any grander than it is. ...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/campaigns/wh2000/stories/bushtext072899.htm

d.) at no point has Bush ever indicated that he was gung-ho in support of the war (indeed, if you read the link i just noted, you'll see that Bush was convinced by the time of the invasion of Cambodia - May, 1970, since you're too young to know, Joe - he became convinced that the war was "a political war, not a military war"), and his most recent comments on Vietnam have all been in the similar neighborhood (too many political decisions being made on military matters, he claims with a straight face to Russert, as though Rumsfeld didn't really exist).

In short, while your "hypothetical" can't be absolutely ruled out, there's very good evidence that he wasn't at all serious about heading into the war zone....

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

Monkey:
I know what I said about the volunteering might not have been 100% correct; I read somewhere a hearsay account about it, and do not remember the link.
I do not believe that he really would have volunteered if there had been even the _slightest_ chance he would have been accepted- not after what he told all over the place that he was trying to figure out a way to not have his eard drums blown out etc.
That's why I posted the 'sinister thought' about it.
In other words: I AGREE WITH YOU! Lacking any hard proof in writing, I do not believe he volunteered in good faith.

Posted by: me at February 23, 2004 02:45 PM | PERMALINK

But Howard, if the program was being cancelled, what was Bush supposed to do? He was a young 2LT. He volunteered and they turned him down. He did everything he could under the circumstances.

Also, a lot of this is due to Bush's age. He went to flight school right out of college. He graduated in 1970. If the American presence in Vietnam was being pared down at that point, how is this Bush's fault? Was he supposed to turn back the hands of time somehow so that he graudated from flight school in 1968?

For example, and I'm not trying to draw a parallel here, it's just an example, I am too old to join the Marine Corps. I checked after 9/11, and the maximum enlistment age for those without previous military service is 29. I am 32. I would love to join the reserves, but I can't. I can join the Navy until age 35, but I'm really not interested; perhaps I'll change my mind, I don't know. I can go into the Army JAG corps, but that doesn't have too much appeal. It may be possible to do something else in the Army reserves, I don't know. I checked the CA National Guard website last week and it wasn't terribly informative; I am going to talk to a recruiter in a week or two. I have lousy eyesight and no scientific technical skills of any kind, so the Air Force is out.

Sometimes the rules are the rules. It would be great to join the Marine Corps, but I'm too old; they won't take me. What am I supposed to do? It's not my fault. Bush was in a similar situation. He volunteered, but didn't have enough flight time. How is this his fault?

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 02:55 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, that ignores the point that Bush was far underqualified when he volunteered, and that the program was shut down shortly thereafter.

It seems probable that the basic flight-hours requirement for Place Guard would be well known amongst the pilots.

Posted by: Sandals at February 23, 2004 03:02 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know where "fault" comes from in this discussion, Joe.

The question on the table is the one you posed: is it hypothetically feasible that Bush decided, by 1970, that he really wanted to serve in Vietnam after all?

My answer is that it's hypothetically possible, but in fact, for a number of reasons, including the end of the program for which he wasn't qualified in the first place, it seems highly unlikely that he suddenly, between 1968 and 1970 became gung ho to go to war.

Were the only factor the ending of the program, i wouldn't spend a lot of time on it, but it's one of 4 factors that i'm citing for doubting the likelihood of your hypothetical.

As you well know, there are lots of things that i do regard as bush's fault, but timing on the war isn't one of them; what i'm doubting here is that he in any way, shape, or form was serious about "volunteering" for Vietnam in the way that Raccicot wants us to believe (to get back to Kevin's initial posting).

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 03:03 PM | PERMALINK

PS. Joe, btw, in the "you don't miss your water until the well runs dry" department, where ya been lately? sick? family problems? new job?

in your absence, we've had to endure extra helpings of the likes of al and keisersousa, which is not a change in bush supporters for the better....

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

" "Tried to volunteer" isn't the same as "volunteered". "

Of course it is.

(www.m-w.com)
Main Entry: 3 volunteer
intransitive senses : "to offer oneself as a volunteer"

Assuming all this is true and Bush did offer to go, he volunteered, whether he was chosen or not.

Posted by: Tom at February 23, 2004 03:13 PM | PERMALINK

A curious question for Howard, Monkey and Frankly: how old are you fellas? And if you're old enought to have had the option to serve in Vietnam, did you do so? If not, why not?

I myself am 48 and missed Vietnam (thankfully) by a couple of years. When I was 19 I had number 85 in the lottery, and since the military only went to 50-something that year I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on in college. Now by that time our country was out of Vietnam so had I been drafted I would have pulled KP for a couple years at some gawd-forsaken base in nowheresville. Certainly wouldn't have hurt me any. But I remember being quite happy that I wouldn't have to interrupt my life in order to tote a rifle in the Army. Does that make me less of an American today?

I bring this up because I do remember the anxiety that my friends just a couple years older than me had. As someone pointed out earlier in this thread, NO ONE wanted to be the last American soldier to die in Vietnam. No one. Some folks went to Canada, some folks got very creative in their deferments, some folks joined the Guard, and some folks joined the Navy or Air Force so that they could minimize their chances of tramping through the jungle. There were a few that volunteered for the Army or Marines (I had one friend who did just that who even managed to come home uninjured), and most of the draftees were either fatalistic or out of other options.

Why bring this up? Because the venom here is amazing to me. Frankly, Monkey and Howard -- if you're too young to know about all this, understand that NO ONE wanted to be the last man to die in Vietnam. So Mr. Bush learned to fly F-102's and was perhaps some slack in his attendance. Mr. Kerry joined the Navy to stay out of a foxhole. Mr. Clinton went to Oxford.

And if you're old enough to remember, then shame on you.

It's all the same. And today it doesn't matter a whit.

I really don't give a shit who volunteered for the Navy to avoid being drafted by the Army, who used family strings to get a Guard slot, and who managed to study in England. It was a lousy, nasty, useless war. NO ONE wanted to die there.

Harping on the minituae over and over makes you look rather foolish. There are better things to argue about in Campaign 2004. Just a thought.

To PaxR55: thanks for your father's thoughts about flying in the 1950's. Very much appreciated, and I appreciate his service.

Posted by: Steve White at February 23, 2004 03:18 PM | PERMALINK

Howard-

Thanks! I am actually trying to be more productive at work. I began feeling guilty about the amount of time I was spending on blogs, so I decided to buckle down and work harder.

My loyalty to President Bush, the great leader, remains undiminished, however, so I will continue to appear here from time to time. I am just trying to cut back on the amount of time I spend surfing the web in general. Work should be for, you know, work.

I don't deny that Bush might have joined the NG to avoid Vietnam (it sure sounds like he did), and never really changed his mind about that.

But I really do think it is possible that serving in the military for a year and a half changed him. For instance, I was raised by liberal parents who were very anti-military. I absorbed all of their prejudices at an early age and basically thought of the military as a second-rate organization. Military people were basically crude rednecks and weren't very bright. I believed that people were attracted to military service becuase they either had Napoleon complexes or were not mature and confident enough to handle the independence of civillian life, and were therefore drawn to an organization which told them what to wear, where to live, and basically gave structure to their lives. The idea that someone might join the military to serve America and protect her from aggression never entered my mind. It was all about chest-thumping machismo, shiny medals, etc.

I changed my mind when I began to meet military people. My aunt joined the Navy when I was 14, and she was not a second-rate person. She was a brilliant engineer. My karate instructor was a former Green Beret. He was no stupid redneck. Through him, I met some people in the intelligence community. All I can say is "wow." One of the guys I worked with was a retired Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. He was an exceptionally competent, responsible, and impressive person. I still admire the heck out of him; he's one of the best leaders, and best people, I've ever had the priviledge to know.

My friends Ed and Ray were pathetic losers in high school. They joined up, and what the military did for them is nothing short of incredible. Ray is a master sergent man now and Ed is a naval officer. I have met a number of their friends and I have got to say that I am impressed.

I used to look down my nose at the military. Now, several years later, I have actually reacehed the point where I beleive that, on average, military people are far more competent and impresive than the average civillian. That is one of the reasons why I was and am so optomistic on the war in Iraq. The notion that a bunch of third-world diplomats from the UN could do a better job at nation-building than the US Army is ludicrous to me. I have met a few UN officials, and and I have met a few soldiers, and I place far, far more confidence in the latter than the former.

The other thing about military people that really humbles you is the fact that they are risking their lives for our freedom. I attended a military wedding a few months ago. There were several pilots there. The thing that struck me is that all of the military people had kids. Some of the people there just returned from flying missions in the Iraq war. Others were test pilots at Pax River. It was really sobering. These people had incredibly dangerous jobs -- far more dangerous than mine. They can be shot down or die in a plane crash at any minute. And their kids were right there, playing and laughing right in front of you. You'd look at these kids and your heart would break, becuase their fathers are taking so many chances. And they were taking those chances for YOU. They risk their lives every day to keep us safe from terrorism. In the past, they protected us from Communism -- and make no mistake, the Communists would have subjugated us all if the military hadn't been there to defend us.

It's really sobering, being around people like this. Every time I think about military stuff, I think of my friends in the military. Excellent people like that really make you take stock of yourself. You want to be worthy of them.

I can well imagine that after spending 18 months around miltiary people, Bush became inspired by their example and decided to put his own life on the line. Imagine it; you're some rich Yalie in the Texas NG, son of an oil man and Congressman, and the guy in the desk next to yours at ground school volunteers for Vietnam. He's a really nice guy who plays basketball with you. You've met his wife. They just had a baby. How can you sit there while he risks his life? The urge to volunteer has got to be almost impossible to resist.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think the real question is why would anyone want to go to Vietnam and be a war criminal?

I mean, according to John Kerry the servicement in Vietnam were a bunch of monsters, baby killers, war criminals, rapists, torturing Genghis Khans.....why would anyone want to join that BAND OF THUGS?

Now I don't agree with Kerry on these points he's made about our service members but he is entitled to his opinion of John MCCain, Max Cleland, Colin Powel and many others. I tend to
think they served honorably..but if Kerry can present facts regarding his charges of war crimes and genocide I am willing to listen.

Posted by: Keiser sousa at February 23, 2004 03:38 PM | PERMALINK

Can the folks at NPR get Juan Williams a gig that's more in keeping with his talents? Aren't there some high school bake sales that need to be covered? Maybe a man bit a dog somewhere? Couldn't Juan be sent over to cover some of these kinds of simple, stupid things that require no thought or follow-up?

"Uh, uh, gee, Mr. Raccit-sho, dat sho' does seem to be de most honest and complete answer dat a fine gentleman likes you could speaks out loud.
Yessuh, Master Rocichow, you sho is da Man around here, suh."

Posted by: Slothrop at February 23, 2004 03:41 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, Slothrop, thanks for bringing that racial twist to the discussion. Maybe you can put on blackface and do a Juan Williams impression for us?

Oh, wait...I forgot...you're the liberal here. Sorry!

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 03:44 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, according to John Kerry the servicement in Vietnam were a bunch of monsters, baby killers, war criminals, rapists, torturing Genghis Khans.....why would anyone want to join that BAND OF THUGS?

Especially when it was a well-documented BAND OF THUGS?

Kerry testified to Congress about DOCUMENTED atrocities committed by US Troops in Vietnam.

You may not like that, but it happened. I happen to think that was a courageous act, to stand up to power and speak the truth. That's a right every American has, and John Kerry fought on behalf of that right, supposedly, if that's what we were in Vietnam for.

I was too young to serve in Vietnam, by a long shot. But my Dad did two terms over there, and it burns me that he served while Bush and his ilk were dating Tricia Nixon and playing tennis with Congressmen.

Please could someone provide me with DOCUMENTS that show Bush applying to go to Vietnam on a Palace Alert program? Because until I see one of those, I'm going to assume anyone who says "he volunteered to go" to be full of crap.

Keiser, you might want to go look up the testimony Kerry gave to Congress, before you go shooting your mouth off.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 03:47 PM | PERMALINK

JG-

I also read Babbins article, and sent him some comments. In short, I told him I was pleased to see that some of Bush's collegues echoed President Bush's EARLY evaluations(operative word early), but was curious as to why he (Jed Babbins) failed to address the fact that Bush (who "respects the chain of command") failed to follow an order to get an annual flight physical. I closed my email by letting him know that I was hopeful to see "Dubya's Wingmen, Part II" soon in the NRO- an article where the suspension issue would be discussed. I also let him know that I didn't expect to see the article anytime soon, for there was just no way to spin Bush's suspension in a positive way.

Babbin emailed me back and informed me that the suspension wasn't really "news".

But I do have an opinion I wish to share. Racicot's comments today will surely be followed up over the next few days by Rush and Hannity, for the masses to hear. Say something often enough and loud enough, it becomes the truth, and that's a problem.

I live in Jacksonville, Florida- a huge military town. I have several very conservative debate partners, and have discussed with them the suspension issue. I truely believe that this specific issue is the one that should be hammered home at every opportunity- my conservative military debate partners have no response to this, and the entire issue bothers them ALOT.

I understand the need to discuss and research such items as retirements points, gratuitious points, SPN numbers, and James R. Bath....but I sometimes think that, in the hopes of hitting that grand slam home run, we, as democrats, maybe leaving a guy stranded at first base.

At this point right now, the only concrete issue a democrat can hang his hat on regarding Bush's military records is the suspension. Time will tell if more develops (I suspect it will), but I feel as though we are losing an opportunity here.

It should also be noted that Bush's suspension is not a topic of conversation on the conservative talk shows (Rush, Hannity)- the reason being they can't spin it!!!!! Like my conservative debate partners, they don't want to touch this with a ten foot pole!!!!

The guy was suspended from flight duty for failing to follow an order to "accomplish" an annual physical exam. This action documents little respect for the "chain of command". This needs to be said often, and said loudly, NOW......and opposed to Bush's volunteering", there is documentation of the suspension.

Posted by: cnc at February 23, 2004 03:52 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, you can't get past the fundamental fact that there is no evidence that Bush tried very hard to get into this "volunteer slot." Having less than one third of the experience needed and then failing to push to get the experience demonstrates all I need to know about his seriousness.

The fact that you looked down on the military reflects badly on you, not on liberals in general. Your experience does not reflect mine, nor, I suspect, that of most liberals. But then we don’t look kindly on Bush's failure to pay any attention to terrorism until after the worst attack on our soil happened on his watch either; nor do we consider someone willing to spend the blood of our youth avenging his daddy's failed Presidency a "great leader." Instead, we see Bush for what he is: a callow, self-centered, feckless monster willing to abuse the might of our nation for purely partisan purposes.

As to your projection of decency on Bush, well, that's not borne out by his record. As the record demonstrates, he did not make but a token gesture towards going to war, this was followed up with long periods of absence and finally an early exit. While your fantastic scenario might have played out, all the available evidence is against you.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 03:53 PM | PERMALINK

Volunteer statements for Vietnam service were in the form of written requests to the major command, not to a local commander. I did so in 1968, and the request and denial I received went into my file. Strange that GWB's released file did not have such documents.

Posted by: bwise at February 23, 2004 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

Lori, the program was closed down a week or so after he volunteered. WHAT WAS BUSH SUPPOSED TO DO? Was he supposed to build a time machine and travel back in time to 1968, when the program was still in full swing?

Liberals in general aren't anti-military? Yeah, right. There is no correlation there. On the contary, the Republican party is well known for its contempt of the military. Uh-huh.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 03:57 PM | PERMALINK

in your absence, we've had to endure extra helpings of the likes of al

Ouch!

Why hasn't Kerry released all his military records?

Posted by: Al at February 23, 2004 03:58 PM | PERMALINK

There's a way to order obsolete Air Force pubs, including AFR 35-13, but it takes a .gov or .edu e-mail address. Here's the link - -

http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/pubs/obsolete_search.asp?Keyword=35-13&Find=Find

Hope this helps.

Posted by: marlow at February 23, 2004 03:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steppin Fetchit, Joe -- if Juan Williams is practicing for the part, so be it.

Posted by: Slothrop at February 23, 2004 04:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Mr. Kerry joined the Navy to stay out of a foxhole" "volunteered for the Navy to avoid being drafted by the Army"

He's was awarded the freakin Silver Star and had three purple hearts! That used to mean something in this country. We elected Clinton without while honoring Bob Dole as a war hero. Not anymore. Kerry's service and bravery must be called into question by those who support Bush. The people who are doing that are making Bush's service an issue.

Posted by: Mario at February 23, 2004 04:02 PM | PERMALINK

Do you think it makes Bush more credible that he signed up knowing that he could never be sent? Get in touch with the real world.

Joe, your imaginary liberals aren't a reflection of the real world. In the real world the Congress has more Democratic members who are ex-military. In the real world liberals don’t approve of sending our troops to hot spots for puerile partisan points (Grenada, Panama, Iraq). In the real world, it is the Republicans who are anti-military. Quick quiz: counting troops sent in by his predecessor, how many soldiers died in a combat zone on Clinton's watch? How many under Bush? How about under the previous Bush? Reagan (don't forget to include the Marines)?

The party of Draft Dodgers (Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and the lot) isn't pro-military, they are pro-dead soldier.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 04:06 PM | PERMALINK

Lori-

Don't mean to imply that all liberals are anti-military. I actually don't believe ths. I was not trying to smear everyone.

However, I do think that liberals tend to know very little about the military and war in general. Even most liberal with military experience tend to be low-ranking enlisted guys who did a single hitch in the motor pool back in the mid-80's and forevermore refer to themselves as "veterans" in all discussions involving national security issues. Their service is to be commended, but they hardly have a knowledge of tactics and strategy equal to Clausewitz. I once worked as a nurse's aid, changing bedpans and giving sponge baths, and I don't refer to myself as a "former medical professional" in discussions about health care policy...

Also, and more importantly, I think you are kidding yourself if you don't think that there is a correlation between liberalism and anti-military sentiment. Again, I beleive that most liberals are not anti-military. However, almost everyone who is anti-military is a liberal. It's like the relationship between conservatives and racism. Conservatives have a problem with racism. Most conservatives aren't racists, but most racists are conservatives.

You know this full well , and it's not fair for you to suggest that my perspective is somehow bizarre and alien.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 04:07 PM | PERMALINK

Since Bush couldn't get into the big old Vietnam conflict that he longed to get in, dreamed of,begged, on hands and knees, to get into, maybe he should take advantage of his current position and VOLUNTEER to fight in Iraq!

My god, he could have so much fun! And show his pilot skills too, which I betya no liberal-nancy men have! I see him, out there, on the roads, disarming mines, arresting terrorists, and in general Bringin' it on, a testosterone bomb. Piloting a helicopter over enemy terrain would not only be a thrill, but patriotic too! He is a true man, on Ann Coulter's own word, and he'd be truer -- harder -- more studly -- with the military's finest hardware between his knees.

Yes, it isn't too late for W. Surely he was denied his chance to serve our country by the liberal media, and Jane Fonda (her bared breasts in Barbarella, I hear, put him in such a daze that he missed that fabled physical exam. Typical Manchurian candidate behavior on the part of that Commie hussy!)

Surely his supporters ought to urge this, as the final mano a mano proof of manhood, against AWOL Kerry, as we all know he was secretly called.

Posted by: roger at February 23, 2004 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

DIRTY LITTLE SECRET: Joe, one of the main reasons liberals hate Bush. What he called the
silent bigotry of low expectations.

Ohhh, now that hurt.

Posted by: Keiser sousa at February 23, 2004 04:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, don't you see where the GOP is going with this, after directing the media murders of Clark and Kerry?

New rule: only those who have NEVER SERVED in the battlefield are qualified to lead the armed forces!

That makes Bush and Cheney and all their draft-dodging cabal the ONLY choice for national security!!

Hanoi Ann Coulter and Hanoi Peggy Noonan will continue to smear the battle-wounded like Cleland and Clark, and show that Bush's sporadic weekend service was MORE IMPORTANT than 34 years of Army experience and winning wars!

Posted by: Brian at February 23, 2004 04:39 PM | PERMALINK

Bush did demonstrate courage when he flew into Baghdad.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 04:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Emperor's New Uniform
"I'd like to know what it is Republicans who didn't serve in Vietnam have against those of us who did," John Kerry said in a statement over the weekend. He even wrote a letter to President Bush:

Over the last week, you and your campaign have initiated a widespread attack on my service in Vietnam, my decision to speak out to end that war, and my commitment to the defense of this nation. Just today, Saxby Chambliss--a man elected to the US Senate on the back of one of the most despicable campaigns ever conducted against Max Cleland, a true American Hero--was carrying this attack for you.

Hey, did you know that John Kerry served in Vietnam?

What's going on here? Well, for one thing, as we've said before, John Kerry is awfully thin-skinned. As the Associated Press points out, what Chambliss said is that Kerry has a "32-year history of voting to cut defense programs and cut defense systems."

This overstates the case slightly, since Kerry didn't actually go to Congress until 1985 (before that, he was an antiwar activist, district attorney and Michael Dukakis's lieutenant governor), so he's been in a position to vote against defense for only 19 years. But as Joshua Muravchik points out in today's Washington Post, Chambliss is otherwise on target:

The litany of weapons systems that Kerry opposed included conventional as well as nuclear equipment: the B-1 bomber, the B-2, the F-15, the F-14A, the F-14D, the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Patriot missile, the Aegis air-defense cruiser and the Trident missile. And he sought to reduce procurement of the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile and the F-16 jet. Time and again, Kerry fought against what he called "the military-industrial corporate welfare complex that has relentlessly chewed up taxpayers' dollars."

Kerry also backed communists in Central America. "I see an enormous haughtiness in the United States trying to tell them what to do," the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat, who by the way served in Vietnam, said of Ronald Reagan's Nicaragua policy--which, despite the efforts of Kerry and other congressional Democrats, produced free elections in 1990. He voted against the liberation of Kuwait and has been all over the map about the liberation of Iraq.

So no wonder Kerry would rather talk about his Vietnam service, which ended in 1969, than about anything he's done during the intervening 35 years.

There's something else going on as well. Kerry, remember, is still running for the Democratic nomination, and he is playing to his party base, which has bought into a self-defeating mythology, according to which any Republican criticism of a Democrat's national-defense record amounts to questioning the latter's patriotism, and this GOP approach works only because Democrats don't "fight back."

Like the grown-ups in "The Emperor's New Clothes," Democrats have persuaded themselves that Kerry's service in Vietnam is sufficient to shield him from scrutiny on his defense record. That's why they think he's "electable." Partisan Democrats want to believe they can beat President Bush, so they're happy to avert their gaze from unpleasant truths about Kerry's record in the Senate. The centrist voters Kerry would need to win in November are unlikely to be so forgiving.

Kerry Runs From Vietnam Record--II
Look again at that Kerry statement: "Over the last week, you and your campaign have initiated a widespread attack on my service in Vietnam, my decision to speak out to end that war, and my commitment to the defense of this nation." True enough, Republicans have questioned Kerry's commitment to America's defense by examining his voting record, which is perfectly legitimate. But Kerry is awfully defensive about his Vietnam service and his antiwar activity.

Indeed, as we noted Friday, he has already lied about the latter, claiming that he never accused American troops of war crimes, when in fact he did just that in his April 22, 1971, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (link in PDF format). He told CNN's Judy Woodruff last week that he was only "accusing American leaders of abandoning the troops."

The New York Post's John Podhoretz further debunks this claim, reporting on Kerry's activities with Vietnam Veterans Against the War:

Kerry was present at [VVAW's New York] offices in September 1970, when the group decided to write then-Mayor John V. Lindsay and demand that the city refuse to welcome another organization, one dedicated to representing other American servicemen.

The group John Kerry and his associates were protesting was The National Guard Association, which had its 1970 convention in New York at the Americana Hotel (now the New York Sheraton) from Sept. 13 to Sept. 17. Kerry's group set up a picket line in front of the Americana, and staged a protest rally against the Guard on Sept. 17, 1970 at 5:30 pm.

Why would they do such a thing? Here's the sort of rhetoric Kerry and Co. used to gather anti-war forces in a mimeographed flyer:

"The National Guard Uses Your Tax Dollar:
"To support the military-industrial complex
"To honor war criminals--Westmoreland, Laird, Nixon, etc.
"To applaud campus murders by National Guard units
"To encourage armed attacks on minority communities"

The decision to stage this defamatory protest against the National Guard--which then comprised 409,412 Army Guard and 89,847 Air Guard personnel--was made in John Kerry's presence and with his full knowledge. Executive-committee minutes for Vietnam Veterans Against the War note that among the six "members attending" a meeting to plan the protest was "John Kerry-NE Rep."

Now, Kerry and others will tell you that Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a group dedicated to advancing the interests of American servicemen--protecting them, bringing them home, helping them. The group's protest against the National Guard Association demonstrates that this claim is revisionist history with a vengeance.

Blogger John Henke notes this passage in a June 2003 Boston Globe piece on Kerry, describing a June 30, 1971, debate between Kerry and pro-war veteran John O'Neill on "The Dick Cavett Show":

Again and again, the question was asked: Did Kerry commit atrocities or see them committed by others? Kerry stuck to his script.

"I personally didn't see personal atrocities in the sense I saw somebody cut a head off or something like that," Kerry said. "However, I did take part in free-fire zones, I did take part in harassment and interdiction fire, I did take part in search-and-destroy missions in which the houses of noncombatants were burned to the ground. And all of these acts, I find out later on, are contrary to the Hague and Geneva conventions and to the laws of warfare. So in that sense, anybody who took part in those, if you carry out the application of the Nuremberg Principles, is in fact guilty. But we are not trying to find war criminals. That is not our purpose. It never has been."

Is John Kerry really a war criminal? Or did he just make this up for propaganda purposes? Either way, one begins to understand why Kerry might be on the defensive over his Vietnam-era record.

Posted by: James Taranto at February 23, 2004 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

I have read Kerry's testimony under oath, and he called the servicement in Vietnam a bunch of war criminals. Do I actually need to quote the man?
You may also want to read his Boston Globe interview when he first ran for Congress and his VVAW petition to stop the National Guard asociation from Meeting in New York because Kerry said they were a bunch of murderers.

But as a I said. If Kerry has the facts to back up his claims....I am willing to listen. If he could just give us the names, ranks, units of those he said perpetrated these crimes..I am sure we could quickly get to the bottom of things.

Posted by: Keiser sousa at February 23, 2004 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

Monkey wrote:

begin quote

Kerry testified to Congress about DOCUMENTED atrocities committed by US Troops in Vietnam.

end quote

Actually, Kerry testified about reports compiled by the "Winter Soldier" project in Detroit. Most of those allegations were actually lies, given by men who had lied about their service. Invited to testify under oath, most of them declined to testify. Thus, Kerry's testimony consisted almost entirely of hearsay.

His actual testimony is quoted at length all around the blogosphere. I conjecture that the Vietnam Veterans against Kerry outnumber the Vietnam veterans against the War by a wide margin.

If Kerry turns out to be the Democratic nominee, his Senatorial voting record, backed with quotes from his 1971 congressional testimony, will lead to his defeat in the 2004 election.

If you think that Kerry's 1971 testimony, and his leadership of the VVAW demonstrate political punch in presidential elections, do recall that McGovern was defeated by a wide margin in 1972, by a president who was pretty thoroughly disliked. Now as then, the majority of Americans do not support what Kerry stood for.

Kerry had a pretty admirable record up until he lost the election for representative in 1970. At that time, he ran on his record in Vietnam, but he lost in Massachusetts. So he reversed his position, met the veterans (and pretenders) against the war, and became one of their leaders. He gave testimony before Congress that includes the kind of anti-American far-leftest rhetoric that Americans generally despised, and then succeeded in Massachusetts electoral politics. Well, McGovern carried Massachusetts, too. Like McGovern in 1972, Kerry since 1970 had been way more liberal-leftist than America as a whole.

I do not think that VietNam-era service is a winner for Kerry. His "band of brothers" is a very small minority. He could overcome the odds (as Henry V at Agincourt), but they are serious odds, in my opinion.


Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 04:45 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Schmoe,

I was glad to read that you have had a chance to re-think some received views about a class of people: military officers. I guess I'm surprised, since I thought it was well known that career naval aviators, a class of military officers, comprise an elite of sorts. They have rare abilities and rare IQs and rare drive and discipline. This is what makes accounts of Bush's scores on aviation aptitude tests so painful, for me at least, to read. One didn't, or at least shouldn't, get in with scores like that. Lives are too precious. Planes too expensive. National security too important.

And I appreciate your kind remarks about my dad's service as a naval aviator, which actually spanned three wars: World War II, Korea, and the cold one.

If I could quibble with you, however: You have a most charitable take, above, on Bush's NG service, pointing to an epiphany you say or suggest he may have had in 1970.

I agree your scenario is possible--spoiled, aimless W. looks around in 1970, sees personal sacrifice, sees war, looks inward, reaches deep, changes his mind about volunteering for combat flying, and says so, "I volunteer!", to someone.

But where's the evidence for this change of heart? I think it points instead to W. shirking duty not to embracing it.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 04:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not suggesting that your point of view is unique, but it is bizarre and alien – it reflects nothing but a devotion to GOP spin. Look at the last three Republican Presidents. Bush – a coward who used his family connections to avoid service and yet invades two nations, at least one of them without any real justification; Bush the elder – an honest to god fighter pilot, but whose abuse of the military as a police force (remember Panama?) demonstrated that he learned little from it, and Reagan, the actor whose support for terrorists on two continents was one of the root causes of 9/11, whose abuse of the military in Grenada demonstrated a cavalier attitude towards the use of force.

Who in the current administration has any real military experience – even a single hitch in the motor pool? Bush? Cheney? Ashcroft? And how have they treated the military? Do you really think the 500+ dead soldiers reflect well on them? On the Republican Party? Your posts read like those of someone who knows liberalism from books written by conservatives.

As to the courage it took to take a secret flight into Baghdad, delay the Thanksgiving meal of a few selected soldiers, and slink out like a thief, it pales in comparison to that of Hillary Clinton whose itinerary was well known and who didn't have the kind of massive security given to a President. Don't misread this; a President is a symbol and needs to be protected (no matter how poorly he performs his duties), but he was in less danger on his trip to Baghdad than he was flying his obsolete F-102.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 04:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Kerry had a pretty admirable record up until he lost the election for representative in 1970. At that time, he ran on his record in Vietnam, but he lost in Massachusetts. So he reversed his position, met the veterans (and pretenders) against the war, and became one of their leaders. He gave testimony before Congress that includes the kind of anti-American far-leftest rhetoric that Americans generally despised, and then succeeded in Massachusetts electoral politics. Well, McGovern carried Massachusetts, too. Like McGovern in 1972, Kerry since 1970 had been way more liberal-leftist than America as a whole."

This is where the Bush-as-shirker strategy stumbles. Kerry is featured prominently in BG Burkett's book "Stolen Valor". Kerry allegedly threw his medals away at a White House protest. Years later Burkett went to Kerry's office and saw the medals prominently displayed on the wall. He asked Kerry about the incident and Kerry said that the medals he threw away were "someone else's." That will be a prominent feature of the campaign if Kerry is the nominee. The medals Kerry threw away were fakes; just like him. Edwards, for all his lack of "gravitas" is a better nominee.

Posted by: Mike K at February 23, 2004 04:58 PM | PERMALINK

BTW: I;ve been reviewing Kerry's history in Vietnam (what there is of it known to the public, that is, since Kerry will not release all of his records).

I did not know that on 3 January 1970 Kerry received an honorable discharge, six months early too ; )

Posted by: Charlie at February 23, 2004 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'll bet my dad would have let Mr. Bush have his slot in Vietnam.

Austin

Posted by: Austin Mayor at February 23, 2004 05:03 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Kerry testified about reports compiled by the "Winter Soldier" project in Detroit. Most of those allegations were actually lies, given by men who had lied about their service. Invited to testify under oath, most of them declined to testify. Thus, Kerry's testimony consisted almost entirely of hearsay.

If they'd testified under oath at the time the Army would have had them prosecuted for war crimes. And so what if it was hearsay? Kerry wasn't in a court of law where the hearsay rule has some purpose. He was reporting very credible testimony from soldiers who were ashamed of what they'd seen and done. You can call them liars, I suppose, but then you'd probably call the reports about the My Lai massacre lies and hearsay as well.

But we don't have to depend on stories about the "Winter Project" when some more recent eyewitness testimony about Vietnam atrocities by the Tiger Force is available:

Elite unit savaged civilians in Vietnam

That war was an atrocity from start to finish and I don't think it'll hurt Kerry if he points that out, since the people still alive who supported that madness are far outnumbered by those who know it was a tragic mistake in which 58,000 young Americans and millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians were killed just so a series of American Presidents could save face.

Posted by: Basharov at February 23, 2004 05:06 PM | PERMALINK

PaxR55-

That is exactly what I think may have happened. Your interpretation is equally possible. To be honest, I think you've probably got the better argument.

I don't care about Bush's willingness to fight in Vietnam, because the important thing to me is whether he is willing to fight TODAY. Bush gives every indication that he will carry the fight to the enemy. That is what I want. I want more war. I believe that we should, to put it in colloquial terms, kick ass. Kerry, by contrast, views terroprism as a law enforcement problem, and has used nothing but defeatist rhetoric. I respect his heroism in Vietnam, but I don't like his views today.

As an aside, my view of the military wasn't just changed by Naval Aviators. Most of the people I know who are currently serving are Naval Aviators, but some of the people who left the greatest impression on me were former enlisted men. I used to think of them as knuckle-dragging rednecks from the dreaded Deep South, but once I came into contact with them, I realized that I was wrong. They were extremely competent and dedicaed people. If I had to go live on an island with only ten other people, I'd choose ten former enlisted men and women over ten lawyers any day of the week.

The most impressive thing about the enlisted personnel isn't their overall competence, however. It's that take things like honor and service seriously. I tend to think that a lot of young kids join the military because it seems like fun. They say that they are joining "to serve their country," but this doesn't really mean anything to an 18 year-old (well, maybe this is no longer true in the wake of 9/11.) But when you actually serve in the military, things like service to country actually begin to have meaning for you. You really internalize values like honor, faithfulness, and duty. They are willing to put their lives on the line for these values.

Very few of my Ivy League lawyer friends know anything about stuff like that. They are not bad people, but things like sacrifice and patriotism really don't mean anything to them. It certainly never occurs to them to join up. They never feel guilty about sitting in their comfortable offices while enlisted guys are sitting in foxholes in Iraq. Again, they are not bad people, but they have no appreciation for these things. They live in a whole other world.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 23, 2004 05:07 PM | PERMALINK

Basharov,

"So what if it's hearsay?" is a pretty good line.

"So what if it's hearsay?"

The rest of your post is what I consider a minority viewpoint.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 05:17 PM | PERMALINK

No Joe, Bush gives every indication that he is willing to abuse the military to gain partisan advantage – fighting wars that don't need to be fought, sending soldiers to die needlessly on the battlefield for his own personal glory. The fact that you are an out of touch elitist, like Bush and your "Ivy League lawyer friends," doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

Clinton's lack of military service was reflected in the honorable way he used the military – as a final backstop to laudable policy goals. Bush's lack of seriousness about his military service is also reflected in the way that he uses the military – as a toy, a meaningless collection of pixels in a video game to be used whenever the whim strikes him. That's why all of this still matters.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 05:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush Apolgists are at it again.

Bush did demonstrate courage when he flew into Baghdad.

LOL I'm sure the Iraqi resistance fighters with the Stinger missiles thought so. Sneaking in and out of Baghdad in the dead of night sure smacks of moral courage, don't it? I was actually embarrassed for the man, having to sneak in and out of the country he proclaimed was going to welcome the US as Liberators was laughable, and dealt a serious blow to the US's aura of invincibility.

"So what if it's hearsay?" is a pretty good line.
"So what if it's hearsay?"
The rest of your post is what I consider a minority viewpoint.

The Army would have prosecuted them, if they had testified under oath. Are you claiming that all their testimony were lies?

You people make me laugh. Bush did NOT serve in Vietnam, took great pains to not serve in Vietnam, had friends of his family pull strings to get him into an NG unit called "Air Canada" by the people in it so he could stay out of Vietnam, barely managed (if at all) to get enough hours for an HD, and did not, according to the files released, volunteer for service in Vietnam, as his campaign is now claiming.

And yet you apologize for him incessantly and without seeing the hypocrisy of it.

Kerry EARNED the right to speak out about the horrors going on in Vietnam, and yet you claim he was lying, or somehow unpatriotic to take a stand on a war he KNEW was wrong.

I will take Kerry's principled stand (even IF some of the stories he testified about were lies, which I highly doubt) against Vietnam after getting wounded three times in the service of his country over Bush's statements about the Guard, his preferential treatment getting into the Guard, and his bare minimum service any day of the week.

End of Story.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 05:41 PM | PERMALINK

So...I don't get it....is kerry PROUD of his service in Vietnam....
or is he ashamed he joined a bunch of murderous thugs to commit war crimes and genocide...

CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN WHICH SIDE KERRY IS ON? Or is he just a proud war criminal?

Does the man need psychological counseling before taking the oath of office???


Also a funy thing, It was actually John Kerry's book The Winter Soldier that suppsoedly documented all these war crimes....You would think Kerry would re-release the book, say printing 3 Million copies so we could all enjoy it.
If they do, I hope they keep the current cover which mocks the Marine rasing of the flag at Iwo Jima. SEVEN THOUAND MARINES DIED ON IWO JIMA, so mocking their sacrifice should sell alot of books to his fellow liberals.

Posted by: Keiser sousa at February 23, 2004 05:45 PM | PERMALINK

A bunch of these posts have contrasted Bush's career with Clark's career. It must be obvious that the Democratic party has not been very impressed with Clark. Except in OK, Kerry has beaten him by a wide margin. It suggests, though it does not prove, that the Democrats do not value Clark's military service very highly.

Put this with the fact that the Democrats supported a man with no military service (Clinton) over a decorated VietNam veteran (Kerrey) in 1992, it makes you wonder if they value military service at all.

Now add in Kerry's voting record on defense appropriations (he opposed nearly everything), and you can extend your doubt about whether the Democrats actually care about military service.

Now add his testimony before Congress in 1971 (all of it, including his great underestimate of the intensity of NVA/VC cruelty), and he looks way to the left of America on military matters, in a party that does not value military service.

Compared to all that, Bush has abbreviated duty in the National Guard.

Listing Kerry's shortcomings up against Bush's shortcomings, as they relate to defense, I don't think VietNam era service is a winning issue for Kerry. Kerry took some of the credit for apprehending Saddam Hussein -- fair enough, he did vote for the military action. But he also voted against appropriating the money for the weapons that carried it out. And he has said that the coalition that carried it out is illegitimate. And he voted against the appropriation to enable it to continue. And after all that, y'all are concerned with incomplete documentation of Bush's national guard service 32 years ago, in an airplane being phased out of service, in a war that everyone voted against in 1964.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 05:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bash -

You are no longer my hero. Go join the republicans. They like liars

Posted by: james at February 23, 2004 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

Given the fact that the elected Bush administration appointed as their Secretary of Defense a draft dodger, and that his idiot son chose that same guy for his VP, one has to wonder just how serious the Republicans are concerning national defense.

Now add in the abuse of the military as a police force in Grenada, Panama, and Iraq, and you wonder if they value military service at all.

Compared with that, Kerry is a war hero who recognizes the danger of a bloated military (cowards, seeing such a large force will be tempted to use it for trivial purposes).

All told, for anyone paying the slightest attention (you are excused Mr. Marler), there is no question that the Democrats are the serious party when it comes to national defense.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 06:09 PM | PERMALINK

Steve White, i'm like you, just young enough to have missed Vietnam. I should acknowledge that due to various medical conditions, i almost certainly would have been regarded as 4F; nonetheless, i opposed the war and also would have looked for a way out.

But that's just it: I opposed the war and was prepared to take a stand in opposition to it.

George Bush didn't oppose the war, he supported it - but for other people. I didn't want anyone fighting. And i haven't played pretend games about how well i fulfilled my National Guard service, either.

Keiser, you are a completely ill-informed individual, just foaming with venom.

And if you don't think that atrocities were committed by all sides in Vietnam, including US forces, that venom merely covers up an extreme case of denial and ignorance.

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

Now add his testimony before Congress in 1971 (all of it, including his great underestimate of the intensity of NVA/VC cruelty), and he looks way to the left of America on military matters, in a party that does not value military service.

Fuck you and your bullshit that Democrats don't value Military Service. Don't hand me that shit, when Bush dodged Vietnam, Cheney did as well, and so did Ashcroft.

Not to mention Rush "I have an anal cyst" Limbaugh.

I think it's pretty clear who values military service, and it's NOT the current GOP.

You people even claimed John McCain was CRAZY because of the time he heroically spent in prison.
You make me sick, quite honestly.

Done with this thread.

Posted by: Monkey at February 23, 2004 06:19 PM | PERMALINK

howard - (and Bash)

Atrocities were committed in all wars. No more or no less than in Nam. If you think Nam was unique then you just want to believe it to justify your own positions. There is a word for that kind of thinking - and it does not suggest intellectual honesty. The Republicans like your way of thinking. You should leave the company of honest men and vote for Bush.

Posted by: james at February 23, 2004 06:26 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's volunteering to go to Vietnam reminds me of my own pledge to burn my draft card. In 1967 or 1968 (so far gone I can't remember) you could decide when you would burn. I signed the pledge to burn mine after 500,000 others had burned theirs. Bush volunteered on the same odds.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell at February 23, 2004 06:27 PM | PERMALINK

Lori Thantos,

I think it will be a close election.


the following is a funny line:

begin quote

the elected Bush administration appointed as their Secretary of Defense a draft dodger, and that his idiot son chose that same guy for his VP, one has to wonder just how serious the Republicans are concerning national defense.

end quote

Cheney did a good job as secretary of defense, helping to run the first Gulf War. The Chairman of the Joint chiefs of staff during that war is now secretary of state, and represented the US in the UN leading up to the second Gulf War.

now another

begin quote the abuse of the military as a police force in Grenada, Panama, and Iraq, and you wonder if they value military service at all.

end quote

By narrow margins at least (and some by big margins), those were supported by Americans.

To repeat, this will be a close election. There are a lot of logical/moral/electoral inconsistencies on both sides.

My sense is that the people who dislike Kerry's voting record on defense and his 1971 congressional testimony outnumber those who care about the relative values of Bush's and Kerry's VietNam-era service. I bet they also outnumber the people who object to Bush's Iraq war yet are unaware that Kerry voted for it. Kerry seems to be aiming his Gulf War message to the people who think voting for the war was the right thing, and now the US ought to leave as soon as possible.

I haven't been paying attention, eh? That's an appeal that will not persuade the undecided.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 06:33 PM | PERMALINK

Monkey has moral clarity.

I'm done here too.

Posted by: PaxR55 at February 23, 2004 06:41 PM | PERMALINK

This Bush application form (where he checked the box that he was not volunteering to go overseas)is exactly what I remembered and have been looking for. But I want to see the whole page. Does anyone have it?

Posted by: Terrie at February 23, 2004 07:07 PM | PERMALINK

I feel compelled to note (for those who didn't follow the link above to the challenging of Racicot's military record) that:

1. It appears that Racicot did not register for selective service. There is no record of him doing so. His lottery number according to his birthdate would have been low; he would have gone to Vietnam if he had been registered.

2. Racicot has misrepresented his own record, stating that in his official RNC bio that he was in the ROTC at Carroll College when there was no ROTC there.

Posted by: mrs. parker at February 23, 2004 07:08 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't claim that McCain was crazy. I thought that he would be a better candidate than Bush. I was outvoted in the primary.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 07:11 PM | PERMALINK

Vietnam. Who'd a thunk this election would be all about Vietnam. Amazing.

Posted by: I've had it with this election at February 23, 2004 07:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bush pulled strings to get into the National Guard. He could have just as easily pulled strings to go to Nam.

Posted by: Tom at February 23, 2004 07:42 PM | PERMALINK

begin quote

The litany of weapons systems that Kerry opposed included conventional as well as nuclear equipment: the B-1 bomber, the B-2, the F-15, the F-14A, the F-14D, the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the AV-8B Harrier jet, the Patriot missile, the Aegis air-defense cruiser and the Trident missile. And he sought to reduce procurement of the M1 Abrams tank, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Tomahawk cruise missile and the F-16 jet. Time and again, Kerry fought against what he called "the military-industrial corporate welfare complex that has relentlessly chewed up taxpayers' dollars."

end quote

That's a quote from James Taranto at "best of the web today", who can direct you to the original. That's opinionjournal.com, but you can find your own summary of Kerry's voting record if you think that summary is biased.


Not a majority of people will find that a strong defense policy. The war that Kerry voted for, and the army that captured Saddam Hussein that he praised, used almost all those weapons systems that he voted against.

So Kerry was right to serve in VietNam, but dubious and contradictory ever since. And Calpundit is exhaustively investigating 32 year old incomplete National Guard records. If this does anything more than stir up a pile of leaves without moving it anywhere I shall be surprised.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 07:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kerry's Inner Dove

By Joshua Muravchik
Monday, February 23, 2004; Page A21


With Vietnam war hero John Kerry having turned back the challenge from antiwar candidate Howard Dean, and George Bush scrambling to account for all his time in the National Guard, the Democrats seem well positioned to neutralize the traditional Republican advantage on foreign policy. But George McGovern also could boast that he was "a decorated combat pilot in World War II," while his opponent "was stationed far from battle," and McGovern nonetheless lost 49 states, largely because the voters thought him weak on national security. Kerry may not project a similar image of weakness, but the record he has compiled in the three decades since he left Vietnam is more dovish than that of any Democratic nominee since McGovern.

end quote


That is from today's Washington Post, not usually a reliable Republican source. And just to remind you, the state that McGovern carried was Massachusetts. This does not imply that Kerry will lose in a landslide, only that he has weaknesses.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 23, 2004 08:35 PM | PERMALINK

The first Iraq war wasn't about national security. The line isn't funny unless you aren't serious about the issue, but then your support for Republicans who use our troops as cannon fodder demonstrates where your mind is. The support by Americans for the rest of the military adventurism was, in fact, support for the troops – even though the troops were being abused for partisan gain.

As to your list of unneeded weapons systems that Kerry voted against – good for him and good for America if we stop enriching the warmongers who need diversions like Panama, Grenada, and this latest adventurism in Iraq in order to generate more orders and prop up their power.

The fact is, it is only the mindless drones who refuse to look at recent history can be fooled into thinking that the Republicans have even the slightest bit of seriousness about the military. Sure, they are big supporters of weapons manufacturers, but that is hardly the same as supporting the troops. Painting a bull's-eye on the backs of our soldiers "Bring it on" isn't the action of a leader who cares about the individuals dying to avenge his daddy's failures.

You know what really being weak on defense is? Attacking tiny nations without cause and bogging down half our troop strength. That's real weakness. Voting against pork barrel spending in favor of things that strengthen our nation is real strength on defense.

Any moron can get our soldiers killed.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 23, 2004 08:44 PM | PERMALINK


The most dissapointing thing about this is that we can now clearly see that Kevin has morphed from what used to be a well reasoned, thought provoking blog, to a partisan rag sheet.
Kevin is willing to believe that the National Guard records of Bush have been "cleaned" based on the testimony of one person that even himself admits that had an ax to grind. But when eyewitness testimony comes forward corroborating statements favoring GWB such as the volunteering for the Palace Guard program
http://www.nationalreview.com/babbin/babbin200402190855.asp
they must certainly be lies and falsehoods. It is sad.

Posted by: sytrek at February 23, 2004 08:46 PM | PERMALINK

George W Bush is a Slacker. Stopped flying when he had two years obligation left. He did community service at PULL. There would be no problem if he had come clean on his youthful indiscretions. But instead the White House portrays him as the War President hot to go to Vietnam as a youth. In reality he was the exact opposite, a slacker to the core.

I spent 365 days in Vietnam. There will always be soldiers who return and remember their service as honorable and hate anyone who degrades it. But, all wars are nasty, inhumane, random chaos. Guerilla Wars are the worst. Vietnam was a complete and total waste. John Kerry was telling the truth as best he could in 1971. That it still hurts 32 years later shows the power of his testimony and the hatred and the evil of that war. I wish all the right wing pundits and the trolls above could take a few convoys to Fajullah and we would no longer hear their crap about combat and denigrating those who served.

Posted by: Jim S at February 23, 2004 08:55 PM | PERMALINK

james, i have no idea what you are talking about, but you must be misunderstanding what i wrote. Yes, atrocities occur in all wars, on all sides. Who said they didn't?

Matthew, Joshua Muravchik is a right-wing zealot, nothing more, and taranto is a thug, and typically, in this kind of crap, what they do is point to a procedural vote or a vote on an ammendment or a test vote or a vote on a version that includes other language or all kinds of things that are anything but intellectually honest.

Posted by: howard at February 23, 2004 09:06 PM | PERMALINK

Comments here about the Winter Soldier campaign are quite misleading. Yes, it was a piece of the Anti-War movement, but as with everything else in that movement, needs to be comprehended in Context.

Winter Soldier was organized at the time the public was focused on Mylai, (1970) and the trial of William Calley was underway. Many vets -- those who had turned against the war, and those who had not, strongly objected to the Pentagon singleing out Calley for offenses that were far more common than publicly understood and in part Winter Soldier was a project that allowed vets to make that point.

Winter Soldier was initially sponsored by Quakers as the "Citizen's Commission of Inquiry into the US Warcrimes in Vietnam" and it acquired wide support from International Lawyers, Clergy and Theologians of many faiths, (Clergy and Laymen Concerned), by Business Executives move for Vietnam Peace, and by the United Auto Workers. There were eventually a long list of supporters and funders. As with everything in the Anti-Vietnam War movement -- projects frequently drew together people with entirely different agendas -- and this is such a case. Initial sponsors (Quakers) were raising religious and humanitarian issues, while others were distraught by the prosecution of Calley. Others were concerned that the Pentagon was covering up reports of war crimes. John Kerry was not an initial sponsor of the project, but he did place the transcripts in the Congressional Record when he testified before the Foreign Relations Committee. (1971) (Source: Charles DeBenedetti "An American Ordeal: The Anti War Movement of the Vietnam Era" Syracuse U Press, 1990).

The Calley Prosecution, the Winter Soldier project, and Kerry's Congressional appearance all took place in a context of deep erosion in the US Military. For instance, between 69 and 71 the incidence of "Fragging" increased by a factor of five by the Pentagon's own statistics, (some vets groups believe it was much higher) Deep Racial divisions emerged, and the rate of desertion and AWOL esculated wildly. Small units adopted "Search and Evade" tactics on patrol, and the incidence of drug abuse skyrocketed. The whole Winter Soldier project -- and Kerry's determination to place the front line combat soldier's perspective in the official record must be comprehended in the precise context of 1970, early 1971.

Posted by: Sara at February 23, 2004 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

What's that you say? Speak up, goddamnit! Ever since my eardrum popped in that shotgun incident, can't hear too well".

Posted by: Sovereign Eye at February 24, 2004 02:20 AM | PERMALINK

I was in the Air Force and stationed at Clark AB in the Philippines when the Desert Shield deployments began. I remember working a swing shift one evening when a message came in for our commander letting him know the command (Electronic Security Command) needed people in my career field (Signals Intelligence Analyst) to volunteer to go to Saudi Arabia.

Do to the nature of our job we saw a lot of classified message traffic that pretty much convinced us early on that America was going to fight a war against Iraq in the future. We *knew* that going to Saudi Arabia meant you'd be going to war.

Word got around on my flight pretty quickly that they needed volunteers and a few of us started talking about it. The general consensus was that going to where the action was wasn't something we wanted to do (we didn't), it was something we *had* to do. You don't spend very many years in the military without getting into the mindset that you'll be needed if there's ever an emergency.

Since we were working a swing that meant the day shops and the command section had already gone home. The commander wouldn't get the message announcing the call for volunteers until the next morning. Until then there was nothing we could do but talk to our supervisors about our decisions.

I went and talked with my Surveillance and Warning Center supervisor and Flight Commander about what I wanted to do. I told them I'd be talking to my wife first but I was pretty sure I'd be volunteering for the Saudi deployment the following day. They told me they respected my decision and would sign off on it when the time came. They both shook my hand and wished me luck.

The next day I came into work eager to begin the process of going to Southwest Asia. Much to my surprise (and disappointment) I learned something that wasn't in the message asking for volunteers. It turned out that since personnel in the Philippines had recently been authorized Hostile Fire Pay (HFP) because of the dire terrorist threat (11 Americans were killed during the 4 years I was there), we were technically in a war zone. The rules were you couldn't transfer from a war zone in one theater (we were Pacific Command (PACOM)) to a war zone in another theater (Central Command (CENTCOM)). We in the Philippines were specifically told that we *couldn't* volunteer for Desert Shield.

So there you have it. I made it known I'd be volunteering for duty in Saudi Arabia and even talked to my supervisor and Flight Commander. A lot more people than just those two knew of my desires. Still, you'll never find a single official piece of paper that notes I was volunteering. There isn't any.

Based on my own experience I can well believe a scenario where George Bush goes to some personnel officer and asks to volunteer for the Palace Alert program. The officer tells him thanks but no thanks, you don't have the hours and besides, the program is ending soon. He could volunteer without getting a single thing put on paper.

By the way, I volunteered for overseas duty and only had overseas duty stations on my Dream Sheet. I still ended up at the 48th Intelligence Squadron in San Antonio after my Philippines tour, and did two deployments to Riyadh while I was there. Overseas volunteer or not, they always make it a point to remind you that, "Needs of the Air Force come first."

Posted by: Yeff at February 24, 2004 02:38 AM | PERMALINK

The most interesting point about Kerry is he NOW claims that his protest against the war was all about his support for the troops and opposition to the politicians in Washington like Richard Nixon....
BUT FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS:
- Kerry's book Winter Soldier detailed atrocities supposedly committed by servicemen at all level os Command. Why didn't he write a book about the Nixon adminstration policy rather than about a BAND OF THUGS.
- Kerry joined up with Hanoi Jane Fonda to paint our troops as war criminals and Fonda even openly said she was a communist and said our POWs were liars when they claim to have been tortured. Kerry never attacked Fonda or disassociated with her.
- Kerrys book Winter Soldier depicts a mocking display of the Iwa Jima memorial where 7,000 marines died. Why didn't the book depict Nixon on the Cover? Or any other politician.
- Kerry protested the National Guard Members Association convention in New York City....this is an association for the troops not the politicians in Washington.

- In fact the ONE act that Kerry actually directed at the Government and not the soldiers was his thowing hiw medals over the fence at the Captitol to shown contempt for the adminstration - BUT THAT WAS ALL A LIE, BECAUSE HE ACTUALLY KEPT HIS MEDALS.

So all the things he did to degrade the troops service were REAL and the one thing he did to
attack the government was a LIE.

And if the current liberal defense of Kerry was actully TRUE....that they actually supported our soldiers....JUST WHY WERE THEY SPITTING ON THEM WHEN THEY CAME HOME????

Has anyone asked Kerry how many soldiers he spit at, and what did he do when other leftist spit at our soldiers????

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 04:15 AM | PERMALINK

Oh goodie. A pitchure... And it's even typed with an X! Huzzah!

Wait a sec - typed?

They didn't let us near typewriters when filling out forms in Basic. That was reserved for the clerk-typists.

Which makes me think it's a default setting for Guard and Reserve personnel.

Remember - this was in the days before word processing. They had roomsful (literally) of clerk-typists processing people's life insurance, job selection forms, and other forms at Lackland then. (Where all AF basic training's done.)

When this got filled out - and I'll admit I don't know this for a fact but based on my own experiences at the time - he probably sat in front of a clerk typist who could well have told him he needed to pick "Do not volunteer for Overseas because it doesn't matter what you put, you're going back to your home unit."

GWB didn't type that in. He wouldn't have been allowed to - either way. That was a clerk-typist's job, and based on THEIR instructions, that form would have been filled out RIGHT. (I remember how pissed the lady was who had to redo my life insurance form when I signed my name and didn't put in my middle initial.)

Regular AF in Basic don't have home units, they're eligible for assignment worldwide.

Besides - there's no way a TANG guy right out of basic would be sent to VietNam anyway, unless he was going with his Guard unit, at which point this form would be completely moot.

J.

Posted by: JLawson at February 24, 2004 04:55 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I think you are attempting to credit Kerry with authoring a book that he simply did not author. It is a form of reverse plagerism I suppose.

The book, "The Winter Soldiers Investigation" is a transcript of hearings conducted by "The Citizens Committee of Inquiry into US War Crimes in Vietnam" (author of record of the published transcript) and as pointed out above, it was a Quaker group that initially organized this project. The book was published by Beacon Press, NYC, in 1972. Many groups participated in sponsorship of the hearings, and are properly credited and thanked in the book. The transcript itself is totally narratives by Vietnam Vets who observed or participated in what they viewed at the time as war crimes, particularly as they came to understand their experience on return from Vietnam in light of study of Nuremberg precidents.

Kerry had nothing to do with writing the book -- he did offer the pre-publication transcript of the hearings to the Foreign Relations Committee as part of his testimony to that committee in 1971. He was invited to testify not only for himself, but as a representative of returned Vets who had come to oppose the war -- and in that role he offered the testimony of others who had testified at the Winter Soldier hearings, Vets who believed they had either committed war crimes or had observed them.

I would hope that in any debate about Vietnam here or elsewhere during this political season people will attempt to find the context for all the items that might be discussed. I know one vet who participated in the Winter Soldier hearings -- a guy who was bothered for years by his involvement in the death of many women and children hiding in brush near a village whom he wiped out with a couple of grenades. Please do not trifle with these matters. Yes -- tell the stories, but check your references carefully.

Posted by: Sara at February 24, 2004 05:34 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks Sara for the correction. So Kerry didn't write the book, that's not his name on the cover, his brother in law wasn't the publisher and everything in the book Kerry didn't write was true.

And John Kerry did not sign the "Peoples Peace Treaty" which contained all of the North Vietnamese demands.

I take it this document is fake as well:
http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/graphics/VVAW01.jpg Where John Kerry AGREES to have Hanoi Jane Fonda on a speaking tour??

And this flyer denigrating our soldiers approved by Kerry is fake??::
http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/graphics/VVAW06.jpg

And this picture on the cover of Kerry's Book is fale along with the 'edited by David thorne" Kerry's cousin.
http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/graphics/TNS_Dustjacket.jpg

WAKE UP SARA

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 05:54 AM | PERMALINK

Here is another good one...notice who are speaking to the same Rally: Hanoi Jane and Hanoi John

http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/graphics/VVAW03.jpg

Ohh, don't cry Sara, it's OK...your just confused dear.

Posted by: kEISER sOUSA at February 24, 2004 05:58 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser, you might be interested to know that the only documented incident of Americans spitting on Vietnam veterans (actually, literally, expectorating on them) was at the Republican National Convention: Republicans spat on returned Vietnam veterans who were demonstrating against the war. I think that ugly little incident tells us all we need to know about the respect Republicans show to veterans. (cite: warning, PDF document)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 06:08 AM | PERMALINK

Now for a bit more truth if you can handle it.. The naval investigative service na dothers actually did what Kerry refused to do and INVESTIGATED the claims made by these SO-CALLED winter soldiers....and guess what:

The results of this investigation, carried out by the Naval Investigative Service, are interesting and revealing.

Many of the veterans, though assured that they would not be questioned about atrocities they might have committed personally, refused to be interviewed. One of the active members of the VVAW told investigators that the leadership had directed the entire membership not to cooperate with the investigation. A black Marine who agreed to be interviewed was unable to provide details of the outrages he had described at the hearing, but he called the Vietnam War "one huge atrocity" and "a racist plot." He admitted that the question of atrocities had not occurred to him while he was in Vietnam, and that he had been assisted in the preparation of his testimony by a the Nation of Islam. But the most damaging finding consisted of the sworn statements of several veterans, corroborated by witnesses, that they had in fact not attended the hearing in Detroit. One of them had never been to Detroit in all his life. He did not know, he stated, who might have used his name. The VVAW's use of fake witnesses and the failure to cooperate with authorities and to provide details of the incidents further cast serious doubt on the professed desire to serve the causes of justice and humanity. It is more likely that this so-called Winter Soldier inquiry, like others earlier and later, had primarily political motives and goals.

Ohhh, I should be called for a technical foul here
for unsportmanship like conduct...but I can't help but run up the score,,......

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 06:18 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser, do you ever get bored spouting nonsense, or is it kind of a hobby for you?

Just wondering...

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 06:22 AM | PERMALINK

Now Jesurgislac, were these actually Vietnam veterans or more of the fake ones that John Kerry, Hanoi Jane Fonda and the VVAW used to propagandize for the Vietcong??

Let's say I agree with you that no Liberal spate on any returning war criminal, murderous killer like John Kerry portrays in his book.....
Then why didn't they spit on these people who they believed were involved in war crimes and atrocities like the world had never seen???

I am trying to understand your point..but its bewildering..your going in circles...
They were heros, they were murderers.
Which is it?

Its sounds like liberals are invoking the Nuremburg defense, like Nazi's they were just following orders. Is that John Kerrys point...the soldiers were like Hitlers SS
or Nazi stormtroopers???

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 06:34 AM | PERMALINK

You forgot that Russert also asked Bush whether he volunteered, and BUSH SAID NO!!!

Astonishingly, the WaPo published a story this morning that repeated the Racicot line, without bothering to point out that this was a bald-faced lie.

Posted by: TedL at February 24, 2004 06:42 AM | PERMALINK

I am trying to understand your point..but its bewildering..your going in circles...

My point is very simple, Keiser, and I'm not going in circles:

1. Spitting on people because they differ from you politically is a shameful thing to do.

1a. Spitting on veterans is a shameful thing to do.

This whether metaphorical (as the current running down of John Kerry) or actual (as the veterans who attended the Republican National Convention).

Very simple point, Keiser. You're the one who seems to be running round in circles.

You may disagree with the Vietnam war (and I do), and with the way it was waged (which I do), and you may find abominable some things that Vietnam veterans did in the war (which I do). The fact remains: someone who volunteers to put their life at risk deserves respect, and the Republicans have consistently declined to grant that respect. Claiming that "liberals" have failed to respect veterans is to rewrite history - especially given your current circle-running trying to find a reason why John Kerry does not deserve your respect, whereas that shirker and draft-dodger, George W. Bush, does.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 06:56 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser,

It's kind of funny how much you talk about Kerry's record (or, really, your hallucinations regarding it) when the topic of the thread is whether BUSH volunteered for Vietnam.

Is it because you realize that there's just NO WAY you can really pretend that Bush somehow wanted in on combat duty in Vietnam when, so obviously, he chose to do something OTHER THAN combat duty when he went for the National Guard instead of, say, the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines? If Bush himself says that he chose the National Guard because he didn't want to blow out his eardrum, well, what more do we really need to know about his motivations? What is unforgivable is that this was the attitude Bush had EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE WAR.

How much does it even matter if Bush at some later point decided he might wish to go to Vietnam (of course there's not a shred of believable evidence to support the idea that he did)? At the truly crucial moment, Bush chose the path of the most CRAVEN OF COWARDS. Yes, he advocated sending young men off to risk their lives in Vietnam, many of them selected to fight it against their will by the draft, but HE would do what he possibly could to avoid that very service.

Now I think it may be hard for you to come to terms with how very despicable and UNPATRIOTIC such an action seemed, even at the time, maybe especially at the time, to men who chose combat.

If you want to have an idea of the level of resentment the military actually serving in Vietnam had towards George Bush and his ilk, I suggest you read the passage from Clinton Powell's book, in which he expresses his contempt for the sons of the rich and powerful who wangled positions in the National Guard, effectively allowing less fortunate draftees to take their places on the battlefield.

I am left wondering, as before, how it is that a person of honor could defend the most cowardly act of a coward -- and I don't know how else to describe George Bush and his choice to join the National Guard when he thought it a very good thing that others be sent off to die in his place.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 07:05 AM | PERMALINK

i made a mistake earlier on to try and engage keiser in debate, but it turns out that keiser is an ill-informed bully of an idiot who knows nothing but right-wing bullshit. His foaming at the mouth is so obvious that flecks of it can be seen on his comments. He clearly needs help, professional help.

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 07:34 AM | PERMALINK

""""The fact remains: someone who volunteers to put their life at risk deserves respect, and the Republicans have consistently declined to grant that respect""""".

So you are talking about Veterans who put their lives on the line like:
Benedict Arnold
Lt William Calley
Timothy McViegh

You are saying that murderous war criminals deserve our repsect because they volunteered to
put themselves at risk.
Its an interesting concept, but I hold no respect for Benedict Arnold, nor Lt Calley or any other war criminals. Sorry, I just can't support your position. Kerry is saying he respects the soldiers who committed outrageous war crimes and atrocities that he himself documents in his own book and testimony under oath.

And 'frankly' I perfectly understand why President Bush wanted to join the National Gurad and learn how to fly fighter jets like his Father, it was an honorable choice to serve his country. And Bush never denigrated anyone elses' service. It was Kerry who keeps attacking other Veterans service...he says joining the National guard is the same as deserting to Canada..I happen to disagree.
His Party leader said service in the National Guard is the same as 'not serving in the US military'.
Bush has done and said nothing that dishonored any other veterans service like Kerry, Gore, McAullife, and Clark have done.

Why would Kerry even suggest that Bush should server in Vitenam and be a war criminal and committer of genocide...it doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 08:07 AM | PERMALINK

"And 'frankly' I perfectly understand why President Bush wanted to join the National Gurad and learn how to fly fighter jets like his Father, it was an honorable choice to serve his country."

No, excuse me, it was emphatically NOT an honorable choice for Bush, given his own strong view that other Americans SHOULD go off an die in jungles of Vietnam. IT DEFINES COWARDICE.

Again, if you want to know what the men who fought in Vietnam thought about chickenhawks like Bush who joined the National Guard, just look at Colin Powell's book, where he calls out the actions of people like Bush for being horribly unjust and dishonorable.

I don't think Kerry himself has ever denigrated National Guard service, but one person I know who has done so is Colin Powell -- Maybe you should take up your argument with him, you know?

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 08:24 AM | PERMALINK

And 'frankly' I perfectly understand why President Bush wanted to join the National Gurad and learn how to fly fighter jets like his Father, it was an honorable choice to serve his country.

You should read what George W. Bush had to say about that "honorable choice": he himself says it was a choice between self-mutilation, going to Canada, and "bettering himself" by learning how to fly. Bush saw it as a draft dodge: instead of risking his life in a war he supported, he could learn how to fly and avoid combat. (Of course, as soon as dodging out of the National Guard wouldn't get him sent to Vietnam, he seems to have quit flying - but if you've been following Calpundit's blog, you'll already know that.)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 08:35 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly0-

I don't think it's fair to describe Bush as a "STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE WAR" who nonetheless avoided fighting in it. From what I have seen, Bush was basically a lukewarm supporter of the war. He was still a prvivate citizen at the time, a 21 years old kid who had just graduated from college. There is no indication that he was a major hawk. It's not like Bush was travelling around the country making speeches in support of the war, urging Americans to do thier duty, etc.

In fact, Bush's reaction to Vietnam sounds much like my reaction to Gulf War I, which took place when I was 19 or so. I supported Gulf War I becuase, believe it or not, I wanted the United Nations to play a larger role in world affairs. While I have always been aghast at the idea of UN-as-world-legislature, I thought the peacekeeping function was a great idea. Throught most of its existence, the UN had been unable to fulfill its peacekeeping role due to the gridlock caused by Cold War. When the Cold War ended and Sadaam invaded Kuwait, I thought that the UN might finally be able to prevent agressive wars from occuring. Just think of all the human suffering that could be avoided if the UN could actually deter the petty tyrants of the world from invading their neighbors. Also, Sadaam was a stereotypical thuggish dictator, and I thought it would be a good idea to send a message to those of his ilk, namely stop brutalizing your people and invading your neighbors.

My illusions about the efficacy of the UN were subsequently shattered later in the 1990's when I saw the UN stand by and do absolutely nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo (it may not qualify as "agressive war", but the UN certainly should have done something about it.) The Iraq sanctions were a sick joke and Somalia (a multilateral operation in every sense of the word) was a total disaster.

On the other hand, I suspected that none of this would be taking place if, say, one East African nation had invaded another. Also, the fact that the Kuwait were a *monarchy*, albeit a benevolent one, was greatly disturbing. American soldiers should not be dying to preserve the wealth of Kuwait's hereditary monarchs. These were real misgivings, but when I weighed them against the reasons for supporting the war, I still came out a supporter.

So in 1991, I supported the war in Iraq. I never gave any speeches about it or went to any pro- or anti-war rallies. Well, I went to one on my college campus, but it wasn't becuase I had any strong views. I basically was curious and wanted to see an actual protest rally in the flesh. The sixties generation had certainly spent enough time talking about them, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. For the record, I found both sides (granola types on the one hand, the campus ROTC contingent on the other) to be equally mindless.

So while I supported the war, I wasn't particularly impassioned or militant about it. I *certainly* never had the urge to enlist in the army in order to free Kuwait.

Had I been drafted, I would certainly would have gone. But I had no, repeat no, interest in joining up.

On the other hand, I have thought about joining up pretty much daily ever since September 11. I am extremely hawkish on the war and, unlike Gulf War I, am 100% committed to the war on terrorism and Gulf War II. I consider this a vital issue and am much more passionate about it.

For these reasons, I can very well understand why Bush might have been a lukewarm supporter of the war in Vietnam, but not terribly interested in going himself. Admittedly, Bush actively *evaded* the war by joining the National Guard, which is somewhat differnet from the situation I have described. But if his dad, a decorated war hero, and his peers fully supported this strategy, well, I can well understand his motiviations.

For these reasons, I just don't think that Bush has done anything particularly heinous.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 08:36 AM | PERMALINK

We're seeing Gresham's Law of Blogging in action.

Calpundit's original winger mascots were fine. Joe Schmoe blithers on too long and he's a bit dense but he'll actually engage in a real debate; Al's posts are 100% content-free but they're short and easy to scroll past; Ron actually seems sane. Then there was the invasion of the asshatted zombies which was unpleasant but they seem to have crawled back into their various orifices.

Now we've got Keister Sue and Charlie, aka Mr. Emoticon ;) :) ;p clogging up the site. As boring as they are annoying, as dull-witted as they are long-winded, either one is guaranteed to kill a thread dead in just a few posts.

Should they go on the do-not-feed-the-trolls list? I vote yes.

Posted by: dix at February 24, 2004 08:53 AM | PERMALINK

Howard and Lori:

Lori defended Kerry's votes against the "unneeded" weapons systems. Howard wrote that the sources I cited were suspect. Maybe you need to caucus. Is the Democratic message that he voted against them because they were unneeded, or is it that he actually voted for them?

Another possibility, given his record of service to his rich constituents, is that he voted against the weapons systems that were not manufactured in Massachusetts.

As to the weapons being unneeded, they were used in the war that Kerry voted for. As to the sources, the assertions that I quoted are correct. If you find a source that disagrees with the assertion about those votes, do alert me here.

NEITHER Democrats nor Republicans think that service in VietNam is an issue in the presidential election. They just want to prove that their opponents are hypocrites.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 24, 2004 09:03 AM | PERMALINK

Joe:
Please re-read Kevin's original post, then scan through some of the comments here. The question is NOT whether "Bush has done anything particularly heinous."

Rather, the question is whether he is some sort of military hero for "volunteering" to go to Vietnam. Frankly, there is no good evidence that he volunteered, and you yourself have admitted that a scenario that leads to his volunteering is less likely than one in which he did not do so.

You also wrote that you discovered, after 9-11, that the Marine Corps would not enlist anyone over the age of 29. If, after discovering this, you hopped on down to the Marine Corps recruiting station and loudly proclaimed your desire to enlist, that wouldn't make you particularly heroic -- quite the opposite -- especially if you then refused to try your luck with a branch of the armed services that actually enlists 32-year-olds.

Now, even if Lt. Bush made some noises about volunteering for Palace Alert, there's good reason to suspect that this was somewhat lacking in seriousness. He knew that Palace Alert would not accept him, if the program was scaling down and if he was hundreds of hours short of qualifying for it in the first place (just as you could not qualify for Marine Corps enlistment).

If Lt. Bush really wanted to go to Vietnam, there were other avenues open to him, but he did not take them. Instead, he essentially stopped training altogether. That doesn't make him a bad guy, at least not in my book, but that does make him someone who cannot claim to have made any real effort to volunteer for service in Vietnam.

Look, if you want to support Bush because you think he did a stand-up job after 9-11, or because you think he's an effective commander-in-chief, feel free to do so. Those things have little if anything to do with his National Guard service three decades ago. That part of his career was nothing heinous, but please do not try to twist that brief and undistinguished service into something it was not -- a patriotic act and an effort to defend his country against its enemies.

Posted by: Keith at February 24, 2004 09:09 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly: ""No, excuse me, it was emphatically NOT an honorable choice for Bush, given his own strong view that other Americans SHOULD go off an die in jungles of Vietnam. IT DEFINES COWARDICE.""

Interesting take...so basically no one in American can support their countries policy unless
they are going to volunteer to be ion Vietnam.

So the 500,000 National Guardsmen who served their country in the guard and didn't 'volunteer' for Vietnam are all cowards. And the 7 Million other reservists, reserves, Army guard, Naval reserve they were all Cowards as well.
And if the draft board wouldn't take you, you were a coward as well.
Gee, Frankly you are paintly a whole lot of people as cowards, like my Brother in law who joined the Army and was sent to Germany....Go figure...he was a coward because he supported our government but didn't go to Vietnam.

Gee, I hope your position is adopted fully by Kerry in the campaign.
If you didn't fight in Vitenam and supported your government - your a COWARD according to Frankly

So, if John Kerry's draft board had allowed him to go to France to study for a year...and then he wasn't subsequently drafted....Frankly would now be calling him a COWARD.

Posted by: Keiser Sousa at February 24, 2004 09:16 AM | PERMALINK

Joe: For these reasons, I just don't think that Bush has done anything particularly heinous.

There's not much reason to suppose that back in the early 1970s, George W. Bush did anything particularly heinous: he dodged the draft by getting into a cushy spot in the NG, and then blew off his National Guard service once it was clear that dodging drills wouldn't get you sent to Vietnam. (The only reason to suppose that something worse that slactivism is behind Bush's failure to serve his full time in the NG is that he's determined no one shall be allowed to find out why he failed to serve his full time in the NG. You wouldn't think that just "being a shirker" was bad enough to warrant a full cover-up. But we've gone over this a lot already.)

However, rather than simply admitting that Bush's NG service is nothing to boast about, the Republicans are consistently trying to talk it up as if it were something to boast about. And that, Joe, is the heinous sin that will get Bush in the end: he's told at least one flat lie about his NG service, and a whole bunch of spin-lies that are "sort of" true - like this one about claiming that he "volunteered for Vietnam". Hell if, Joe! He volunteered for the Texas National Guard, knowing that it meant he wouldn't go to Vietnam. (If, later on, he volunteered for another service, he appears to have done so knowing that this other service wouldn't take him. And there is no evidence that he ever did.)

The sin is not what he did during the Vietnam War - lots of rich privileged kids did the same, and plenty of kids would have done it if they could. The sin is bragging about it afterwards as if he were some kind of war hero for getting a cushy berth and avoiding service.

You mentioned you tried to join up after 9/11 but were too old for the Marines. Fair enough. But in 30 years time, if you're running for office, I wouldn't expect you to brag about your "war service" after 9/11 on the grounds that you tried to volunteer but didn't get in. And that's what Bush is doing now - or his team is doing on his behalf.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 24, 2004 09:23 AM | PERMALINK

Keith-

I see your point, but it rests upon a very important assumption: that Bush KNEW that the Palace Guard program was about to be cancelled.

I have not seen any evidence of that, either for or against. Actually, I would be a little surprised if some junior 2LT in Texas knew, one week in advane, that some obscure Pentagon program was about to be cancelled, the ins-and-outs of qualifying for the program (those with less than 1,000 hours of flight time need not apply), etc.

And if Bush did know these things, I don't think he would have bothered to ask. As you suggested, I'm not going to go down to the Marine Corps office to volunteer becuase I know they will turn me down. The whole trip would be a pointless waste of time. Why would Bush bother to ask his commanding officer about the Palace Guard program if he knew that it was pointless? Why go through the motions? If he was trying to solidify his record for a future run for political office (certainly a possibility), he could always say that "by the time I graduated from flight school, Palace Guard was being cancelled, so I couldn't go to Vietnam even though I badly wanted to." There was no reason to actually go down to the CO's office and make the request.

It seems at least as likely that Bush had met guys in flight school who were headed to (fellow students) , or had just returned from (the instructors) Vietnam. Bush wasn't terribly excited about Vietnam when he joined the Texas NG, but a year and a half of immersion in hard-charging military culture (and it looks as if Bush took to this like a duck to water -- his superiors seemd to think highly of him) made him change his mind.

He had heard that NG pilots sometimes went to Vietnam. In fact, some of the guys in his unit had been there last year. There was some kind of program, Palace Guard or something, which provided for this. So he went down to the CO's office to ask how he could join the program. The CO then told him that he didn't meet the requirments. One week later, the program was cancelled anway.

I see nothing unreasonable about this explanation. It actually seems pretty plausible to me.

Posted by: Joe Schmoe at February 24, 2004 09:32 AM | PERMALINK

"""he dodged the draft """"

I love this line...he dodged the draft, as if following the law and volunteering for service is somehow a 'dodge'. But of course now that Kerry is a candidate andyone who didn't spend five years in a rice paddy violating the Geneva convention on a daily basis 'dodged the draft'.
There was only one REAL draft dodger and that's Bill Clinton...he lied to his draft board, he lied to Col. Holmes, he gamed the system, he wrote in his own words he loathed the military.

There is no evidence that anyone except Bill Clinton lied and cheated their way out of military service..and that's the bottom line.

Bush, Cheney and thousands of others followed the rules as they were written, now you want to change the rules when it suite you.
When Clinton was running, Kerry attacked his fellow Vietnam Veterans like Bob Kerrey for
even raising the issue of Clintons real dodge.
Now Kerry has once again done a 180 degree turn
because the truth is Kerry has no core beliefs except say anything to get elected.

Posted by: Keiser at February 24, 2004 09:39 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser,

You're forgetting just a few little points in your talk about the National Guard and Bush's service.

Do I think that everyone at everytime who served in the National Guard is a coward? Of course not. Nowadays, people who serve in the National Guard have a very good possibility of doing actual combat duty, as we have seen Iraq. Given that they knew this could well happen, how could they possibly be called cowards or dishonorable?

And in the Vietnam era, many young men who were opposed to the war, who thought NO American should die in the jungles of Vietnam, found that the only way they might avoid that fate themselves was to join the National Guard. In other wars at other times, these men might gladly have served combat duties for causes they truly supported. I don't see how anyone could possibly call such men cowards.

But then there are the entitled few who FULLY SUPPORTED the Vietnam War, and STRONGLY BELIEVED that young American men should be sent off, perhaps to die, to the mud of Vietnam, yet REFUSED THEMSELVES to put their own lives on the line. THESE MEN WERE COWARDS. THEY WERE THE WORST SORT OF CHICKENHAWK. BUSH WAS SUCH A MAN.

And again, don't take my word for it when I say that such men were despised by the men who went to fight in Vietnam, either voluntarily or because of the draft. Look to what Colin Powell had to say about it in his own memoir on Vietnam.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 09:52 AM | PERMALINK

franklyO, wasting time on a foaming-mouth idiot and hater like keiser isn't worth it. He doesn't care about logical arguments or facts; he cares about venting his own hatred.

Matthew, you've cited two sources whose track record is deeply suspect, which doesn't mean that Lori may not be right in specific cases.

That said, i'm not going to spend time digging into the circumstances of every vote that Kerry ever cast on every weapons system in every form that ever came in front of Congress. I'd be willing to bet, based on what I do know, that every single long-term member of Congress has a number of votes that can be pulled out of context and used to say "x voted against y," when what "x" was really doing was voting against some pork ladened into "y," or some civil service protection denied, or as part of a deal on another vote, or all kinds of things.

When you take the words of nitwits like taranto and murvachek on stuff like this, you're accepting the viewpoint of the sorts of people who claim that voting against the Bush Homeland Security bill's stripping away of civil service protection were actually against homeland security.

It's a sickening right-wing game that has gone on a long time and is unlikely to stop now (especially given that the right has so little in the way of actual positive accomplishments from its years of political domination), but that doesn't mean that we have to act like it's meaningful.

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Joe, please, your case for the "plausibility" of this life-change in george bush is no better today than it was last night. It's not impossible is about the best we can say for it, but since it doesn't fit any other evidence or information that we have, i wouldn't spend so many column inches on it.

Weren't you planning on doing more work?

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Or maybe, Mr. Marler, you should learn from the experience that the Democratic Party is not monolithic. I realize that coming from an authoritarian party it's hard to understand, but are allowed to have differences.

That they found uses for the weapons systems doesn't prove what you think it does. That someone finds a use for a white elephant doesn't demonstrate that it was, in fact, needed; it merely demonstrates the old law that says need will expand to fill the available resources.

And stop mischaracterizing Kerry's vote to give Bush a strong hand as being for the invasion of a non-threatening nation for the entertainment of Republicans. While I'm glad you are entertained, I think the hundreds of dead soldiers and thousands of dead Iraqis are too high a price to pay for it.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 24, 2004 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's fair to describe Bush as a "STRONG SUPPORTER OF THE WAR" who nonetheless avoided fighting in it. From what I have seen, Bush was basically a lukewarm supporter of the war. He was still a prvivate citizen at the time, a 21 years old kid who had just graduated from college. There is no indication that he was a major hawk. It's not like Bush was travelling around the country making speeches in support of the war, urging Americans to do thier duty, etc.

If indeed Bush was NOT a strong supporter of the war in Vietnam, why doesn't he, for once in his spoiled cowardly life, just come clean and admit that he was not, that he had severe misgivings about it?

One thing you fail to note in your Gulf War I analogy, is a VERY different feature in that war: THERE WAS NO DRAFT. In the Vietnam War, they were so desperate for young men to go over there that they required the draft to fill up the ranks. You tell me how in such a scenario it could POSSIBLY be just and honorable for a supporter of the war to avoid combat, which is exactly what Bush chose to do, rather than volunteer to be in services likely to see combat?

Again, if you want to get a sense of the resentment people fighting in Vietnam bore toward Bush and his ilk, read Powell's memoir. These men had every reason to despise the behavior of spoiled brats like Bush.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when people who don't know nearly as much about the military as they think they do get their hands on bits and pieces of info and proceed to feed said info through their limited knowledge of the military. Checking the "I do not volunteer for overseas" means Bush did not volunteer to be STATIONED overseas, not that he did not volunteer for any overseas call-up his unit might receive. Now, does anyone find it really surprising that a Texas-based Guardsman did not volunteer for a permanent change of station to somewhere overseas? I mean, by definition, he would no longer be Texas-based, right? LOL...

Also FYI...there are a great many military personnel who check the "I do not volunteer for overseas assignment" but end up overseas anyway. The needs of the service trump the desires of the servicemember, every time.

(Disclaimer: I am not addressing Bush's motives or intentions independent of this particular checked-box-on-a-form incident, so don't start the flames on me. Just trying to shed some light, ya know?)

Posted by: MAngelo at February 24, 2004 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sometimes I wonder if people on the right even get what patriotic duty means anymore.

There was a time when, IF YOU SUPPORTED A WAR, you were expected to serve in the military, most especially if there were a real need for young men to fight that war. Anything less was considered cowardly and unpatriotic.

People who opposed the war in Vietnam, and thought no American should die, had a very compelling argument that it was NOT their patriotic duty to risk their lives in what they regarded as a pointless and fruitless venture. But for those men who DID support it, and given the obvious need for soldiers in that war, I don't see how one could think of them other than as cowardly and unpatriotic.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

""""There was a time when, IF YOU SUPPORTED A WAR, you were expected to serve in the military, most especially if there were a real need for young men to fight that war. Anything less was considered cowardly and unpatriotic. """"

If this is TRUE, then why were their any deferments? Why could you get education deferments, family deferments, medical deferments, a whole buch of reasons you weren't selected.
The facts is you don't know your facts. Why didn't they draft board say: Do you support the war...you say yes..they ship you to Danang..end of story.
Frankly, you live in a fantasy world.

Given you rationale, Kerry supported the war but got a deferment from fighting it after three Purple Hearts, two of which he signed himself.
I guess he was unpatriotic because regardless of the RULES...you had to fight////you ignore the rules and you fight or your unpatriotic. Got it.

Posted by: keiser at February 24, 2004 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

MAngelo:

Man, you're preaching to people who have no interest in learning anything about the paperwork the military generates and how it relates to their issues. I tried on the points and paperwork issue, and just plain have given up. Now this is just for laughs.

They see GWB as guilty, they KNOW he's guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt - they're just looking for the 'gotcha' that sustantiates their claim in their eyes. And that they're going THIS far says something.

If it isn't this, it'll be something else. Good attempt to shed some light - but these folks have shade 15 welding goggles on when it comes to anything they don't want to see.

J.

Posted by: Jlawson at February 24, 2004 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser,

In case you weren't aware, people DID resent the use of education deferments, to the point that they were eventually eliminated as unjust. And of course people resented the use of SPURIOUS medical deferments -- "trick knees" in champion wrestlers (Chambliss) and "anal cysts" (Rush Limbaugh) would do as fine examples of the kind. Family deferments (young children) generally had some legitimate basis all might understand.

Just the fact that you seem to imply that, say, and educational deferment was a perfectly fine reason to get out of combat service when you supported the war, and others your age, often against their will, were dying for it suggests that you really DON'T understand the concept of patriotic duty, of doing your true share in military service when you believe the cause is just (as Bush did, and apparently you do).

I think the ranks of the right are probably so besotted with Chickenhawks like Bush and Cheney and Lott and Rush and Racicot and Rove that they don't even grasp what sacrifice for a larger cause, and patriotism, really mean anymore.

Posted by: frankly0 at February 24, 2004 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Lori,

Apparently you believe both of the following propositions:

1. Kerry voted against weapons systems

and

2. It is incorrect to claim that Kerry voted against weapons systems.


Democrats may be diverse, but it is unusual to think that someone would defend both of those propositions.

Kerry voted for the war. Unless he thought that the military build-up was a bluff, he voted for the war. The resolution called on the president to pursue diplomatic remedies, but it did not call on him to avoid combat indefinitely. It confirmed his authority to wage the war he waged. When it started, he voted for the resolution that supported the soldiers and commended the leadership of Bush. The words "commend the leadership of" the Bush administration are what he voted "yes" on. Kerry did not start opposing the war until Dean started to lead in the polls.

He didn't have to vote for the war. Wellstone, Byrd, and other Democrats voted against it. Kerry voted for it.

It will be interesting to see whether, in his campaign, Kerry maintains that all those weapons systems he voted against were like white elephants. Especially when he campaigns in the areas where they were built. I think that by then (this is something we'll probably both be following) he claims that he really wanted them built better.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 24, 2004 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

matthew, sorry, kerry didn't vote "for the war." (i wish he had voted no, but that's a separate matter.)

He voted for leverage for george bush, and he voted for a process that involved a good-faith effort to find an international coalition.

Despite your attempt to reduce the war vote to a binary consideration, it was always tertiary: those who were gung-ho for the war; those who were strongly opposed to the war; and those who were prepared, under certain circumstances, to go to war.

Kerry was in that crowd. It's really not that hard to understand.

As for weapons systems, it's amazing how often people on the right claim the ability to read minds....

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"He voted for leverage for george bush, and he voted for a process that involved a good-faith effort to find an international coalition."

Okay, at what point in a good-faith process, when it's evident that no matter what there are some who aren't going to sign on (and 35 nations did, may I remind you) do you go "Okay, I'd like 38 but France and Germany are dragging their feet and Russia's got their own problems" and press on with the mission?

A good-faith effort implies just that - you made an effort. And GWB DID. We got 35 countires involved - that's hardly unilateral or a failure of diplomacy - and things that have come out about Iraq's potential contracts with France and Germany and Russia made it quite clear why THEY were dragging their feet - because it was all about the oil for them.

If Kerry voted with the idea that there had to be 37 or 38 countries involved instead of 35, that's one thing and he should say so.

If he voted with the idea that we'd never actually take military action no matter how many signed on, that's something else and he should say so.

As is, it looks to me like he's trying to be on both sides of the fence at the same time. And it makes him look like a weathervane.

J.

Posted by: Jlawson at February 24, 2004 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

What Kerry voted for is right here:

http://hnn.us/articles/1282.html

Key language here:

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.

(a) AUTHORIZATION- The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to

(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.

(b) PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION- In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a) to use force the President shall, prior to such exercise or as soon thereafter as may be feasible, but no later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate his determination that

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

PS. I'd have preferred a "no" vote, as i already said, but the "yes" vote was not a blank check.

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like para (1) has it covered.

(1)reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

Your mileage may vary - but Kerry's a weathervane IMO.

J.

Posted by: Jlawson at February 24, 2004 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

I can see the bumper stickers now:

"Bush 2004: he didn't do anything particularly heinous"

Sadly, even that's not an accurate argument in his favor. Any day now I expect to see Republicans trying to draft McCain for the nomination.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho at February 24, 2004 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Howard,

you wrote

begin


matthew, sorry, kerry didn't vote "for the war." (i wish he had voted no, but that's a separate matter.)

He voted for leverage for george bush, and he voted for a process that involved a good-faith effort to find an international coalition.

end

By the way, how do you guys get italics?

as to 1, Kerry definitely did not vote the way you wish he had. You're kind of "stuck" with that, the way I'm stuck with Bush's last 2 years of NG service.

as to 2, nobody at the time believed that it was a vote for "leverage", did they? Democrats spent considerable effort during the summer demanding that Bush go to Congress for the authority to wage war, and when he did, they passed a law that gave him the authority to wage the war. It required a "good faith" effort to engage diplomacy, and Bush/Powell then got UNSCR 1441. That resolution was followed by "bad faith" [my language] on the part of the French, who said that they would not support any resolution with an "or else" clause. But 1441 already threatened "serious consequences", which everyone took to mean war. Note also that Kerry, unlike Kennedy and Byrd, did not then call for yet another Congressional resolution to undo the war resolution already passed. Kerry also did not support the Biden ammendment, which would have required Bush to get another congressiional resolution if the diplomacy was unsuccessful. That October 2002 vote was a vote for war.

I don't understand your comment about reading minds. You and Lori express contrary opinions about whether Kerry voted against those weapons systems. Lori said he voted against them, and justifiably so; you said it was a misleading right-wing claim that he voted against them. The Democratic party may be diverse, but both claims about Kerry's voting record can't be true.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 24, 2004 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew, let's start with the easiest part: my comment about "reading minds" had nothing to do with what Lori and I have said (although, for the record, what i said was that decontexualized voting records mean zippo and that i don't trust taranto or murvachek to be honest about this), it had to do with your prediction as follows:

"It will be interesting to see whether, in his campaign, Kerry maintains that all those weapons systems he voted against were like white elephants. Especially when he campaigns in the areas where they were built. I think that by then (this is something we'll probably both be following) he claims that he really wanted them built better."

Now, let's revisit the Security Council. The point of the Security Council resolutions was that saddam shouldn't be able to develop weapons of mass destruction or conduct wmd programs. The Security Council, through its agent, Hans Blix and the inspectors, was in the midst of determining whether or not Saddam was in violation (in fact, of course, we now know that he wasn't in violation in any meaningful way), when George Bush decided that time was up. This in no way met the test of the resolution.

In short, had the UN inspectors found real evidence of weapons programs, or banned weapons, then Kerry would have favored war, just like the resolution says.

More broadly, the idea that it's a bad thing for a politician to be flexible is a new one on me: you mean you prefer the stubborness of George Bush, who has been wrong on everything other than the appropriate response to 9/11, an invasion of Afghanistan?

Being firmly wrong violates the Hippocratic Oath, which is a good guideline: first, do no harm. Reality causes any of us who are on good terms with it to adjust our thinking in the light of new circumstances; george bush never, ever adjusts his thinking. That's what you prefer?

Posted by: howard at February 24, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Frankly has a good idea....if you support the government going to war...then you must go.

If you support welfare (War on poverty)...then you pay the freight.

If you support social security (War on poverty), Medicare, perscrition drug coverage, and 10,000 other Federal programs than I say VOLUNTEER your money.
Why do Liberals want only rich people to have to pay through the nose for programs YOU support??

But no, you want to support government programs and then have someone else give over their money at the point of a gun or threat of jail. Now how patriotic are you??

I guess we will hear the end of the soak the rich mentality when you should be giving 60% of your income because you support the government war on crimes, poverty, disease, etc. etc. Why should only the rich be fighting THESE WARS????

Let's see the 550 MIllion dollar man Kerry step up with say 400 MIllion for the poor and the Kennedys, Rockfellers, Kohls, Corzines put their money where their mouths are!

Posted by: Keiser at February 24, 2004 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Howard,

you wrote

begin

In short, had the UN inspectors found real evidence of weapons programs, or banned weapons, then Kerry would have favored war, just like the resolution says.

end

I don't think so. First, 1441 passed after the war resolution, so that was not what Kerry voted for. Second, Kerry did not support the Biden ammendment, which would have required Bush to get another Congressional resolution after exhausting diplomatic efforts. Third, he did not join Kennedy in demanding another vote. Fourth, when the war actually started, Kerry did not (as he said in his senate speech he would do) object that this was not what he had voted for. Fifth, he did vote to commend the leadership of the administration, as the war began.

The"flexibility" of which you speak came after the changed circumstance of Howard Dean leading in the polls. Then Kerry voted not to fund the reconstruction. But then when Saddam Hussein was captured, Kerry said that was what he had voted for all along -- and Dean began to sink in the polls.

I made a prediction about how Kerry would defend his defense appropriation votes when he campained in the districts that manufactured the weaponry he voted against. That's a test of whether I understand his style, not a claim that I do understand his style. We'll see later (if Kerry is the nominee) whether I made a good prediction.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 24, 2004 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Marler falsely claims that I believe:

  1. Kerry voted against weapons systems
  2. It is incorrect to claim that Kerry voted against weapons systems.
Well Mr. Marler, apparently you can't read. First, I never claimed both of those things. Second, it is perfectly possible to believe both that votes against military pork would have been admirable and that tendentious hacks would take procedural votes out of context in order to make spurious claims. But your inability to do "nuance" reminds me that I have more important things to do than to argue with those unwilling to think past their RNC blast fax talking points.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 24, 2004 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

I love nuance


RNC blast fax talking points.


bring on the nuance.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler at February 24, 2004 02:08 PM | PERMALINK

I’m a 20 year Army combat veteran, and have requested to come out of retirement to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan (they said no; something about Iraq already having enough antiquities). Now all I really have to say on this topic is Bush served.. Unless you have served yourself you have not earned the right to judge the quality of Bush’s military service. To my Brothers in Arms; speak as your heart dictates; you‘ve earned the right. To the civilians who never had the time or guts to join; when you’ve strapped yourself in to an F102. or performed any military duty in the in defense of my country, then you will have something worth hearing on the subject of Bush’s military service.

Posted by: Don C. at February 24, 2004 05:29 PM | PERMALINK

It never ceases to amaze me at the lengths Bush bashers will go to permiate horse hockey. As a 20 year combat veteran I feel that I can say with a bit of certainty that finding one form with a check mark for no overseas proves absolutely nothing about whether or not President Bush volunteered for overseas duty. I myself volunteered not to go overseas several times and went 3 times. I volunteered to go several other times and was turned down. Besides the fact that this is noncense, just being in the web of the military at that time meant President Bush could have been called to service at any time the military deemed nessessary. There are very few soldiers that can figure out military forms, not to mention the fact that clerks in the military screw them up with regularity, so how the hell is Drum or any other so called journalist going to figure them out? Especialy when they make no effort to learn what the forms mean. I will be suspect of and the rest of you should be to, until one of these so called journalist actually explain to you what the forms mean by the military regulations.

Posted by: kevin f at February 24, 2004 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

It never ceases to amaze me the lengths Bush defenders will go to perpetuate horse hockey. If all we had was a single check mark on a form then there might be some basis for the above claim. But that's not where the primary evidence lies. The primary evidence is in Bush's words prior to the evidence of rather lax duty – see links here and here - just in this thread. On the other hand, a 20 year combat veteran who doesn't know the difference between the Champaign unit of the Texas Air National Guard of 1972 and the National Guard of today seems rather suspect. It leads one to wonder if said combat veteran missed the realignment of the National Guard after the massive abuse of that service by the sons of wealth and privilege to get out of going to war.

From the hardly left leaning Maj. Gen. Winston P. Wilson:
As the war dragged on, young men increasingly sought Guard service. By the end of the war, many Americans considered the Guard a haven for draft dodgers.

It is one thing to question whether the evidence supports Bush's desire to avoid war, but it is laughable to suggest that the very notion that Bush was in serious danger of going to war while in the Texas Air National Guard.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 25, 2004 01:16 AM | PERMALINK

Doh!

(replace the last paragraph with)

It is one thing to question whether the evidence supports the notion that Bush wanted to avoid Vietnam, but it is laughable to suggest that Bush was in serious danger of going to war without his consent while in the Texas Air National Guard.

Posted by: Lori Thantos at February 25, 2004 01:20 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Bush served honorably as a pilot of fighter jets with I believe over 500 flying hours.
He served his country during the cold war, when people like John Kerry were saying that Communism was no threat to America. Kerry working with Hanoi Jane against this country, Hanoi Jane was an avowed Communist.

So please anyone who wants to challenge Bush's patriotism, let's see your service record..how many hours did you spend in a combat jet?

If Kerry wants to make this about service records..by all means everyone should state their military service prior to making comments. As for me, I served MORE YEARS than John Kerry...I was in for SIX Years. So in Kerry's eyes, I must be more patriotic than he is. I also served 20 years as a Air Force civilian working directly with combat forces on military operations....where was Kerry?

Where were you during the Cold War? Bush was serving, Kerry was fighting against America.
Kerry said there was no Communist threat just like he says the terrorist threat is exagerrated.

Posted by: Keiser at February 25, 2004 01:38 AM | PERMALINK

The instructive thing about this entire thread? Bush was, at kindest, a shirker. Bush volunteered for a service that would inconvenience him and endanger him as little as possible. Arguments about whether or not he was actually, legally, AWOL are possible. Yet the thread is full of Bush-worshippers trying to find some way to compare a man who got three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star during a tour of duty in Vietnam to a man who used his family connections to avoid going anywhere near combat... in such a way that the first man comes out worse.

It really isn't possible, guys. Neither is it possible to claim that Kerry had no right to oppose the Vietnam war: he had the best right of all, he'd been there. (Leaving aside the fact that any citizen of the United States has a right and a duty to openly oppose government policy if they disagree with it.)

Kerry fulfilled his obligations as a citizen both in going to war and in openly opposing it.

Bush failed even to fulfil the obligation he signed up for: he didn't even complete the six years he should have done.

Kerry doesn't have to lie about what he did in the 1970s: Bush does.

Trying to talk up Bush or trying to denigrate Kerry because of what they did in the 1970s is equally futile. But you know who you really remind me of?

Frank Burns.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 25, 2004 02:17 AM | PERMALINK

OK, Jesurghislac,
Lets just look at the relative chance of harm.

Being a fight pilot in an F-102 or being on a ship
in the Navy off the coast of Vietnam.

I would think logically volunteering to go in the Navy and even to sit on a ship off the coast of Vietnam (who didn't have a Navy) would logically be a safer duty than flying a fighter jet of 1964 vintage.
Remeber it wasn't until after Kerry was in that the Swiftboat mission changed.

The chance of death for fighter jet pilots was far greater than sitting on a boat.

Posted by: Keiser at February 25, 2004 04:21 AM | PERMALINK

Keiser, Keiser, Keiser. Please give me the stats for the number of people serving in the Texas National Guard who died while flying their F-102 planes over Texas between 1968-72. Whole numbers and percentages, please. I assume that since you think this was way more dangerous than volunteering to serve in the Navy you have the statistics at your fingertips - and can also show the statistics for the Navy casualties when "just sitting off the coast of Vietnam".

You claimed further up to be an ex-serviceman, Keiser. Have to say that your contempt for active duty and people who volunteer for it makes it almost certain that, like Bush, your "service" was probably somewhere where you were well out of the way of getting shot at.

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