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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Bush's Youth

The swiftboat controversy has resulted in a great deal of media scrutiny of John Kerry's youth.

In fairness, shouldn't they also be asking about the President's youth?

And perhaps about Dick Cheney's youth?

Of course, in regard to Cheney, Michael Tomasky is on-point:
there exists no Vietnam Veterans for the Truth About Deferments, financed by wealthy Democratic donors and out peddling its wares
Cheney received a series of deferments in response to his country's call to go to Vietnam.

In 2000, the media noted a bit about George W. Bush's life in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is from the BBC:
Bush's time at Yale is said to have been dominated by drinking and partying with other members of the Skull and Bones fraternity.

After graduation, he joined the Texas national guard as a pilot - despite a poor test grade and a long waiting list - prompting recent allegations that his family pulled strings to keep him out of Vietnam.

He has characterised these years as aimless. "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible," he once said.
Readers who've seen the swiftboad TV ads probably want more information. "Details," you might declare, "we want details!"

On the issue of Vietnam Bush has sometimes been quite candid about his strong desire not to go to Vietnam:
In 1994, the President told the Houston Chronicle, in relation to his joining the National Guard, "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."
Remember, on his enlistment forms, Bush checked the box that said: "Do Not Volunteer For Overseas" duty.

The former speaker of the Texas state legislature has testified under oath that he was asked by a Bush family friend to help Bush get into the Guard -- and that he did intervene successfully on Bush's behalf. Remember, Bush had the lowest score acceptable (25%) and was sworn in on the day he applied.

Many other bloggers have covered the gaps in Bush's National Guard story, so I'll just note that some interesting unanswered questions remain about a 5 or 6 month period in Alabama, when Bush did not show up for drills -- and apparently did not make them up either. Bottom line: where's the DD214 or NGB22 form that would clearly answer all the important questions, perhaps even why Bush failed to show up for a required physical in 1972?

The AP has sued for more complete records, so there's a chance this story could still go somewhere before the election.

In any event, what else was up with the President in those years? Let's go back to the BBC story from the 2000 election:
Asked by one reporter if he would pass a White House background check, Bush replied that he had not taken drugs for seven years.

That date was soon moved further back to 1974 but he has refused to rule out any drug abuse at any point.
That's right, Kerry is being asked detailed questions about the bullets that were flying at him during an ambush, and how much he bled from particular shrapnel wounds, but the President has historically refused to answer detailed media questions about his own behavior during this same time:
"I've told the people of this country that, over 20 years ago, I made some mistakes when I was younger. I've learned from those mistakes," Bush said....

Bush spokeswoman Mindy Tucker later said the Republican presidential front-runner was saying that he has not used illegal drugs at any time since 1974, when the 53-year-old Bush was 28.
I'm quoting from a story, by the way, that appeared during the Republican primary season when opponents like Steve Forbes were hinting that candidate Bush should be a bit more forthcoming:
The Texas governor is the only major presidential candidate who has not answered the question about whether he has ever used cocaine.
This is why Michael Moore used a bit of Eric Clapton's tune in "F 9/11."

For those trying to recall details of Bush's life, he entered Harvard Business School at age 27, after receiving his early exit from the National Guard.

Bush says his religious conversion occurred in 1986.

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