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People In Glass Houses

Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry could be walking into an ambush that may ultimately will do him in. Kerry today adopted the "I heard such and such" tactic first employed with disastrous results by Howard Dean on 9/11 rumors.
Richmond, VA (AP) - ..Kerry said Bush had not fully answered questions about whether he fulfilled his National Guard service in Alabama during the Vietnam War.


"The issue here is, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active in Alabama at the time he was supposed to be," said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. "I don't have the answer to that question and just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question."
Kevin Drum has evidence that Bush was detailed to a reserve unit for failing to show for his annual physical in 19721. Regardless, there is still no truth to the assertion that Bush was AWOL. This Calpundit comment sums up the situation pretty well:
The good news: Georgie spent a significant part of the war in a disciplinary unit for failing to show up.


The bad news: He wasn't really AWOL or deserted, because his disciplinary unit does not have active drill requirements. That is, he was "present" at his disciplinary unit on paper.
Certainly this is not good news for Bush, but compare this revelation with those emerging about Kerry's post war activities (being floated by other Democratic candidate camps) most of which are detailed at the Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry site.


The Bush story is a ghost paper chase that always ends in the cul-de-sac of an honorable discharge and zero references to Absence Without Official Leave. The Kerry story on the other hand has pictures, video, and congressional testimony that sharply contrast with the current crop of "war hero" commercials running.


If John Kerry wants to put the focus of the 2004 election on the early 1970's something tells me that the visuals of Kerry and Jane Fonda and some of his other anti war activities will take the tarnish off of the "war hero" persona he's now crafting. Somewhere Karl Rove must be licking his chops preparing a 'Hanoi John' commercial...

1 This entry at Good Grief! from January 2004 details the suspension. Kevin's finding details where Bush was placed administratively after his suspension.


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Comments (9)

The website vietnam veteran... (Below threshold)
Jane:

The website vietnam veterans against kerry is an awesome indictment against him although the wacky left will probably think it was noble of him to disparage the families of POW/MIA.

Nice smear job at the VVAJK... (Below threshold)
TK:

Nice smear job at the VVAJK site, dude. You have to click on the link to find out the picture of Kerry is doctored. Really lovely company you keep--not that I am surprised. We are talking Republicans, after all. Maybe we should start running photos of everyone in the Administration with "Chickenhawk" dropped in for a background? At least it would have the virtue of being true.

To borrow the language you deploy (only honestly), the Kerry smear is a ghost trail that always ends in a purple heart, heroism and an effort to save his fellow soliders from a disastrous, war that even a majority of people today regards as immoral. If you think Bush's lifelong sense of entitlement, moral cowardice, and slacker values stack up against that, well, bring it on bub.

I've got nothing to do with... (Below threshold)

I've got nothing to do with the veterans site. It's worth noting that it came to me via the Clark camp. Ask around, it went out to a lot of bloggers.

My point was that if the either side spends a lot of time in the past it opens a can of worms neither would probably want to deal with.

That said I think that, in pursuit of a scoop, both sides will dredge up everything from that era. Your presumption that Kerry gets a free pass for his post war actions based on stellar service record is pretty optimistic.

...a disastrous war that... (Below threshold)
jen:

...a disastrous war that even a majority of people today regards as immoral.

You want to back that up with numbers, TK? Because I know quite a few Vietnam vets and regular citizens who thought the reasons for going to Vietnam were very moral. The problem was the lack of spine to actually fight to win the war by the US government that sent them there.

I'm still looking for any d... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

I'm still looking for any document that says the Bush's reassignment to the Denver unit was for disciplinary reasons. The folks over at Calpundit seem to depend on this document, which is only the last page of multiple-page document. Reassignment is addressed as a possible consequence of misbehavior, but nowhere does it say anything like, "you're being reassigned because you screwed up." As I said over at CalPundit, it reads much more like Bush's enlistment agreement rather than the result of disciplinary action.

Even moreso, they've turned up another document which appears to completely obliterate the misbehavior argument.

Tempest in a teapot. A buncha folks are going to get themselves wrapped around an axle and not get anywhere unless they find something more signficant than they've found so far.

Hey Kevin,Thanks for... (Below threshold)

Hey Kevin,
Thanks for linking to us. I can't claim to be on top of the latest developments, but I tried to present a fair of the two sides of the debate as I understood them.

FWIW, I suspect Boyd is right on a horserace-type analysis, because these mini-scandals tend to ride on conventional wisdom sine curve, where the issue's potential for damage depends upon the catchphrase that dominated the most recent media cycle. For a bit there, it was "Bush was AWOL", but at this point my guess is it's been superseded by "honorable discharge". I think the next question is whether the Dems can get the media to roll with "won't release the records".

That has the potential to do some damage, I think, since, if Bush did serve honorably, he should have no objection to releasing the records.

Even if that happens, I suspect Kevin may be right that the damage could be neutralized by a "Kerry slammed POW/MIA families" meme, which I see Jane is eager to help spread. (Hey, if Max Cleland can be an America-hating traitor, John Kerry can hate military families, right?) That, in turn, could be neutralized by a "doctored photo" meme, so the VVAJK might want to take more care.

It's sad, really, that it all comes down to the latest buzzwords, but I think it really does.

That's "a fair description"... (Below threshold)
The Navigator:

That's "a fair description", of course.

Martin Heldt provided <a hr... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Martin Heldt provided a link to the first page of the previously mentioned document. It's essentially part of the President's enlistment agreement, from 1968. It's got nothing to do with anything.

This is the problem with starting out with a conclusion, and then hunting around for supposed "facts" to support your conclusion. This will blow over almost as fast as it did in 2000 (which I missed completely, I must admit).

Navigator - I think you're ... (Below threshold)

Navigator - I think you're right on target. I sense a Mutually Assured Destruction game starting on this one, with each side convinced theirs "truth exposing" is the righteous thing to do.




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