View Thread : Bush and Vietnam...


A Black Falcon
Here are two NYT opinion pieces...

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/13/opinion/13HERB.html

Bush's Duty, and Privilege
By BOB HERBERT

Published: February 13, 2022

James Moore, an author and former Texas television reporter who has spent many years following the fortunes of George W. Bush, often tells the story of a gifted high school athlete from Flint, Mich., named Roy Dukes.

"I ran track against him," Mr. Moore said. "He went to Flint Southwestern High School, and he was amazing."

That was back in the late 1960's. When Roy Dukes strode onto the track for an event, said Mr. Moore, he drew everyone's attention, especially other athletes'. "They stopped their warm-ups or whatever they were doing to watch him because he was just phenomenal."

Mr. Moore lost track of Mr. Dukes for a couple of years. "And then I come home from college one weekend and I open up the paper and there's Roy's picture. He was killed in Vietnam. I was just flabbergasted."

Mr. Moore explores the murky circumstances surrounding President Bush's service in the National Guard in the late 60's and early 70's in a book that is soon to be published called "Bush's War for Re-election." This issue remains pertinent because it foreshadowed Mr. Bush's behavior as a politician and officeholder: the lack of engagement, the irresponsibility, and the casual and blatantly unfair exploitation of rank and privilege.

Mr. Bush favored the war in Vietnam, but he had the necessary clout to ensure that he wouldn't have to serve there. He entered the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the war in 1968 by leaping ahead of 500 other applicants who were on a waiting list.

Mr. Bush was eventually assigned to the 147th Fighter Group (later to become part of the 111th Fighter Interceptor Group), which Mr. Moore described in his book as a "champagne" outfit. "The ranks," he said, "were filled with the progeny of the wealthy and politically influential."

So here's the thing: After strolling to the head of the line, and putting the Guard to the considerable expense of training him as a pilot, Lieutenant Bush didn't even bother to take his duties seriously. He breezed off to Alabama to work on a political campaign. He never showed up as required to take his annual flight physical in 1972, and because of that was suspended from flying.

This cavalier treatment of his duties as a Guardsman occurred as thousands of others were being killed and wounded in Vietnam youngsters of great promise like Roy Dukes, who was 20 when he died. Having escaped the horror of the war himself, one might have expected Lieutenant Bush to at least take his duties in the National Guard seriously.

Now, more than three decades later, there are questions about the seriousness of Mr. Bush's stewardship as president. He has certainly been profligate with the people's money, pushing through his reckless tax cuts and running up a mountain range of deficits that extends as far as the eye can see.

Citing phantom weapons of mass destruction, he led the nation into a war of choice that has resulted so far in the tragic deaths of more than 500 American troops and thousands of innocent Iraqis, and the wounding of thousands upon thousands of others. Like Mr. Bush during Vietnam, privileged Americans have had the luxury of favoring the madness in Iraq without having to worry about fighting and dying there. If the sons and daughters of the wealthy and powerful were in danger of being sent to Iraq, the U.S. wouldn't be there.

Neither Congress nor the American people are being told in a timely way how much this war is costing. But powerfully connected corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel have been kept deep inside the loop and favored with lucrative no-bid contracts for their services.

Mr. Bush has been nothing if not consistent. He has always been about the privileged few. And that's an attitude that flies in the face of the basic precepts of an egalitarian society. It's an attitude that fosters, that celebrates, unfairness and injustice.

More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam, another war of choice that was marketed deceitfully to the American people.

Mr. Bush's experience in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam years is especially relevant today because it throws a brighter spotlight on who he really is. He has walked a charmed road, with others paying the price of his journey, every step of the way.


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/13/opinion/13KRUG.html

The Real Man
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Published: February 13, 2022

To understand why questions about George Bush's time in the National Guard are legitimate, all you have to do is look at the federal budget published last week. No, not the lies, damned lies and statistics the pictures.

By my count, this year's budget contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair, helping a small child with his reading assignment, building a trail through the wilderness and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq. Somehow the art director neglected to include a photo of the president swimming across the Yangtze River.

It was not ever thus. Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.

The issue here goes beyond using the Government Printing Office to publish campaign brochures. In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.

Operation Flight Suit was only slightly more over the top than other Bush photo-ops, like the carefully staged picture that placed Mr. Bush's head in line with the stone faces on Mount Rushmore. The goal is to suggest that it's unpatriotic to criticize the president, and to use his heroic image to block any substantive discussion of his policies.

In fact, those 27 photos grace one of the four most dishonest budgets in the nation's history the other three are the budgets released in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Just to give you a taste: remember how last year's budget contained no money for postwar Iraq and how administration officials waited until after the tax cut had been passed to mention the small matter of $87 billion in extra costs? Well, they've done it again: earlier this week the Army's chief of staff testified that the Iraq funds in the budget would cover expenses only through September.

But when administration officials are challenged about the blatant deceptions in their budgets or, for that matter, about the use of prewar intelligence their response, almost always, is to fall back on the president's character. How dare you question Mr. Bush's honesty, they ask, when he is a man of such unimpeachable integrity? And that leaves critics with no choice: they must point out that the man inside the flight suit bears little resemblance to the official image.

There is, as far as I can tell, no positive evidence that Mr. Bush is a man of exceptional uprightness. When has he even accepted responsibility for something that went wrong? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he is willing to cut corners when it's to his personal advantage. His business career was full of questionable deals, and whatever the full truth about his National Guard service, it was certainly not glorious.

Old history, you may say, and irrelevant to the present. And perhaps that would be true if Mr. Bush was prepared to come clean about his past. Instead, he remains evasive. On "Meet the Press" he promised to release all his records and promptly broke that promise.

I don't know what he's hiding. But I do think he has forfeited any right to cite his character to turn away charges that his administration is lying about its policies. And that is the point: Mr. Bush may not be a particularly bad man, but he isn't the paragon his handlers portray.

Some of his critics hope that the AWOL issue will demolish the Bush myth, all at once. They're probably too optimistic if it were that easy, the tale of Harken Energy would have already done the trick. The sad truth is that people who have been taken in by a cult of personality a group that in this case includes a good fraction of the American people, and a considerably higher fraction of the punditocracy are very reluctant to give up their illusions. If nothing else, that would mean admitting that they had been played for fools.

Still, we may be on our way to an election in which Mr. Bush is judged on his record, not his legend. And that, of course, is what the White House fears.

Great Rumbler
Most people will view this in the same way as the whole John Kerry and Jane Fonda deal, they'll either hate him more for it or brush it aside.

A Black Falcon
That was just one thing and from before she went to Vietnam... this is much more, and more than that it's emblematic of how Bush treats things...

alien space marine
Atleast Kerry went to Vietnam and did his service, I dont think being part of that group in the 70's opposing vietnam will hurt him as much since Vietnam was a bloody slaughter and the U.S safety was not in jeopardy for it. I wouldnt blaim bush for trying to ensure that he didnt go to vietnam as thats what all those young americans did at that time he just had the family whealth and connections to make sure he waisnt deployed to vietnam.

DMiller
The Kerry/Fonda thing is incredibly stupid. He went and did his service for his country, but then fought to try and ensure other men his age didn't have to go through the same horror.

As for Bush, I don't really care whether or not he cheated his way out of going to Vietnam. Clinton dodged the draft and I didn't think any less of him for it because I don't know if I would have acted any differently in the same situation. It is rather suspicious that there is a gap in his service record and all they have to show for it are some dental records, but it doesn't bother me.

A Black Falcon
It's not that he dodged the war... that's fine... it's that he dodged the war while being pro war. That is a major problem.

Ryan
It's not as though every single war has the same circumstances. As Derek said, it was common for people to try and dodge Vietnam, because going over there was as likely a death warrant as not, and there was no reason to be there. By the end of the war we had been losing it for seven years.

Very much unlike Iraq.

It's funny how character suddenly matters now, but when we had a president lying to a grand jury and allowing nuclear secrets to be filtered to China, character was a non-issue and 'we should leave the man alone'.

alien space marine
What about that special flight after 9/11 when the entire comericial air industry was grounded, That allowed Saudi business men and deplomats through which no other group of any kind was allowed except Bush's long time business partners which he personally gave the OK too fly,While the hole continent was grounded and thousands of americans were stuck in canada and overseas some of which were families of the 9/11 victims.

Some of those men on that flight would later be accussed of funding terrorist.

To me that incident is alot more significant then Bushs military record which is irelevant since he waisnt drafted you cant really prove anything other then wonder.

A Black Falcon
We'll see...
http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/02/13/elec04.prez.bush.texas.records/index.html


But Bush was for the Vietnam war but didn't want to fight in it! The term the Democrats use, "Chicken Hawks" (because several other top people in the administration also dodged Vietnam, but are pro war), is quite appropriate. If you're antiwar avoiding going to a war is consistent with your position (for instance my dad got out of it with a medical deferment I think (though his eyesight really is awful...), as well as college...)... but as a hawk? :S

And Iraq is the closest thing to Vietnam we've had since then and he started it.

And we lost 56,000 people in Vietnam. A lot yes, but hardly a 'death warrant' given how many were there... the problem was that we should not have been there and could not win.

As for Clinton, obviously his personal failings were a problem (the China stuff, no way was he involved), but that's his personal life. This matters more because it affects national policy directly. Same with why Bush should be criticized more than Clinton for lying because his lies led to a war and thousands (including the Iraqis) of deaths... and Clinton's to zero...

A Black Falcon
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/13/politics/campaign/13ALAB.html?pagewanted=2

Seeking Memories of Bush at an Alabama Air Base
By DAVID BARSTOW

Published: February 13, 2022

ONTGOMERY, Ala., Feb. 12 Inside the Alabama Air National Guard an informal search is on for someone, anyone, who recalls encountering First Lt. George W. Bush in 1972.

At Fort George C. Wallace, the Montgomery headquarters of the Alabama National Guard, officials have responded to growing scrutiny of President Bush's military record by searching through records for proof of his service in the 187th Tactical Reconnaissance Group. Former comrades from the 187th have been calling and e-mailing one another, always with the same basic question: Did you see him?

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So far, it appears that their efforts have come to naught. Indeed, in interviews this week with The New York Times, 16 retired officers, pilots and senior enlisted men who served among hundreds with the 187th in 1972 all said that they simply could not recall seeing Mr. Bush at Dannelly Air Base, the sprawling compound adjacent to Montgomery's airport that is home to the 187th.

Those interviewed either held key supervisory positions at the base or were members of the fraternity of pilots and navigators who often congregated in a lounge on the second floor of Dannelly's main hangar. They worked in different units of the 187th, including the maintenance squadron, the supply squadron, the headquarters staff, flight safety and the flight operations center.

Yet try as they might nearly all voiced strong support for Mr. Bush none remembered crossing paths with him. Nor had any heard of anyone else in the 187th who recalled seeing him.

"I don't have any recollection at all zero, none," said Rodger S. Garrett, the sergeant who supervised the command post at the flight operations center, the unit Mr. Bush was instructed to report to in September 1972.

As Mr. Garrett and the other men interviewed were quick to note, the fact that they do not remember Mr. Bush does not mean he did not pull duty at the base, as the president insists he did.

"I think if George Bush had sat down and had chow with me in 1972, I don't think I'd remember him today," said Lonnie J. Slauson Jr., who in 1972 was a major and the executive support officer at the 187th headquarters building at Dannelly. "I didn't know his daddy was an ambassador, and to expound on that, I couldn't have cared less if I did."

For his part, Mr. Bush has never offered any detailed descriptions of what jobs he did at the 187th. "I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have the same airplanes," he told reporters in 2000.

His aides have said he did "desk work."

Complicating matters, many of the senior officers are now dead. As well, 1972 was a hectic year at Dannelly Air Base, then home to some 850 Guard members. A new reconnaissance jet, the F-4 Phantom II, was being introduced to the base, and with the new jet came hundreds of new pilots, navigators and support personnel.

"Everybody was learning a new job," said James E. Daniel, 69, who supervised the pilots and navigators at Dannelly in 1972 as commander of the 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

Mr. Daniel declined to say whether he recalled seeing Mr. Bush, then an F-102 fighter pilot for the Texas Air National Guard.

Still, the interviews this week deepen a mystery that first surfaced during the 2000 presidential campaign when The Boston Globe reported that there was no record that Mr. Bush showed up for Guard drills between May 1972, when he moved to Alabama from Texas to work on a United States Senate race, and May 1973. Mr. Bush had been ordered in September 1972 to report for "equivalent training" to William R. Turnipseed, the 187th's deputy commander of operations, but The Globe quoted Mr. Turnipseed in 2000 as saying that Mr. Bush never reported to him.

In response to The Globe's article, Mr. Bush's election campaign appealed for members of the Alabama Air National Guard to come forward and vouch for his service, and a group of Vietnam veterans in Alabama offered a $1,000 reward for anyone with proof that Mr. Bush served. No one has come forward.

Sensing an opening in a new election year, leading Democrats have recently seized on the issue anew by hammering one simple question: If Mr. Bush served in Alabama, how come no one remembers him?

(Page 2 of 2)

This week the White House released additional military records in an effort to prove that Mr. Bush performed duty here. The latest records, released Wednesday night, show that he visited a dentist at Dannelly on Jan. 6, 1973.

Mr. Bush's spokesmen have previously said that Mr. Bush lived in Alabama from May to November 1972, and then moved to Houston when the election was over. But Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday that Mr. Bush recalled returning to Alabama for some of his Guard service even after he had moved to Houston.

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Asked about the 16 members of the 187th who do not remember Mr. Bush serving in Alabama, Mr. McClellan responded that Mr. Bush's dental examination "demonstrates that he was serving in Alabama." Mr. McClellan also said that at least two people recalled Mr. Bush serving in Alabama, among them Joe Holcombe, who worked on the Senate campaign with Mr. Bush, and Emily Marks Curtis, who has said she briefly dated Mr. Bush in Alabama.

Mr. McClellan pointed to an article in The Times Daily, an Alabama newspaper, in which Ms. Curtis was quoted as saying that "the thing I know about George is that after the election was over in November, George left and he said he came back to Montgomery to do his Guard duty."

But Ms. Curtis and Mr. Holcombe have also told reporters that they never actually saw Mr. Bush at Dannelly.

Mr. Bush's vague recollection of the type of work he might have been assigned at the 187th leaves open many possibilities. For example, he might have been sent to the supply squadron, which operated with about 100 Guard members in a building near the main hangar.

But Wayne L. Rambo, then a first lieutenant who supervised management procedures in the supply squadron, said he did not recall seeing Mr. Bush. Nor did Ernest G. Dismukes, then a master sergeant in the supply squadron. Nor did Joseph Chastain, a second lieutenant and supervisor in the supply squadron.

"I feel quite certain I would have remembered if he had worked with me," Mr. Chastain said.

The largest unit of the 187th was the maintenance squadron, with some 10 officers and 290 enlisted Guard members and mechanics. But several supervisors in the maintenance squadron said they did not recall seeing Mr. Bush.

"But he could have been here and made his drills and I wouldn't have known about it," said Billy C. Adams, then chief master sergeant in the maintenance squadron. "Anyone who would call him AWOL unless they can prove it you should put them in jail."

A few hundred more Guard members worked in the headquarters building. But Mr. Slauson, who worked full-time there, said he had no memory of Mr. Bush, as did Willard G. Hill, then a sergeant and supervisor in the personnel section.

"I've really thought about it, and I have to say I have no knowledge of him," Mr. Hill said.

The 187th also had a communications unit of about 30 members. But Emmett L. McCutchin, then captain and commander of the unit, said he had no memory of seeing Mr. Bush in 1972. "But you know," he said, "at that time who was George Bush?"

The closest any officer came to recalling Mr. Bush's presence at the 187th was Robert L. Ficquette, another captain and supervisor in the communications unit. "I remember the name passing in front of me some way," he said, although he said he could not be sure when or how or why. But he, too, said he did not recall seeing Mr. Bush.

As a trained pilot, Mr. Bush might have been given tasks that brought him into contact with the 140 or so pilots, navigators and weapons systems officers of the 187th.

But George A. Garzon, then a captain and supervisor responsible for flight safety, had no recollection of Mr. Bush. "I did not see him or remember him," Mr. Garzon said. "But he could have been in and I didn't even know it."

Four pilots and weapons system officers said much the same.

"I don't remember him being there," said Donald T. Sheridan, then a captain and weapons systems officer. "But I can see where he could have very easily sat in the back of the room" in a training session.

Another weapons system officer, Virgil A. Shewbart, a major in 1972, said, "I didn't know him then, and I don't know him now."

Several retired members of the 187th suggested that the most logical place for Mr. Bush was the operations center, where his pilot training could be put to good use processing flight plans and schedules. Indeed, this was the unit he was directed to report to in September 1972.

Mr. Garrett said that those who worked in the "ops center" were "like a family." Would he remember if Mr. Bush had been assigned to work in his command post?

"I think I would have recalled somebody being set in there like that," he said. "If I ever saw him, he never made an impression on me."

The article linked in my previous post says that one guardsman remembers him being there, though... so we don't really know...

alien space marine
Power corrupts.

May I add how did Bush become a Lieutenant? Probaily the same way he got into Yale through his dads freinds otherwise he wouldnt have made it with a average grades like everyone who isnt part of the elite.

How is it in politics in general that the rich elite can honnestly relate to poor middle class people that vote ,If they never have had financial hardships or ever had to work hard on a part time job just to get into college? So why would they give a damn that loads of white collar jobs are being shiped to india and china were the labour is cheap and there is no regulation on worker safety.

Darunia
Clinton dodged the draft and I didn't think any less of him for it because I don't know if I would have acted any differently in the same situation.

Well we don't want an average joe in the white house. Ideally, the president would be the best-suited person for the job; that includes someone who is brave and loyal to the country. You can't judge the president based on what you would've done...if he's the prez, he should be fitting and should be, to some degree, morally perfect.

DMiller
Do you truly think in this day and age we will ever have a morally perfect President? Since Watergate I think the American public has lost their naivety in thinking that the President is some kind of better person than most normal people.

A Black Falcon
Yeah... plenty of presidents before that had all kinds of flaws but we overlooked them. We just don't have that tolerance anymore...

alien space marine
JFK slept around with Interns like Clinton and nobody found out untill now.

A Black Falcon
Oh, people knew. People just didn't care and the press didn't go after him for it. And FDR had that semi-affair that only got out recently...

Ryan
JFK slept around with Interns like Clinton and nobody found out untill now.
That was known practically since he was in office, but he was so adored that even if they bothered reporting it, no one would have listened.

A Black Falcon
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_02_08.html#002555

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/02/16/timep.bush.tm/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/02/12/column.novak.opinion.bush/index.html