Saturday, September 11, 2004

DUMBASSY with Oak Leaf Cluster

George H.W. Bush, to Dan Rather in 1988:

How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?

I'm guessing that would sound pretty good to him about now.

It isn't often that the Academy gets to honor a veteran more than once in the same campaign. As noted, most people uttering the kind of humiliatingly ridiculous things required to merit a FLUBA DUMBASSY, immediately retreat into a privacy so complete they're not spotted for a year.

Not our one-time CBS AWOL (or was it 'deserter') wunderkind. No sirree, this guy's a trooper, racking up honors at a faster pace than Lt. John Kerry earned Purple Hearts in Vietnam (I hope he's not counting on a "threefer and you're out" exemption from combat).

Yes, it's another nomination. This time, in the category...Hey, hey, only one person at a time in these revolvvvving doooors...for last night's:

The questions raised by our report include:

--Did a wealthy Texas oilman-friend of the Bush family use his influence with the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives .. to get George W. Bush a coveted slot in the National Guard .. keeping him out of the draft and any probable service IN Vietnam?

--Did Lieutenant Bush refuse a direct order from his commanding officer?

--Was Lieutenant. Bush suspended for failure to perform up to standards?

--Did Lieutenant Bush ever take a physical he was required and ordered to take? If not, why not?

--And did Lieutenant Bush, in fact, complete his commitment to the Guard?

These questions grew out of new witnesses and new evidence -- including documents written by Lieutenant Bush's squadron commander. Today, on the internet and elsewhere, some people -- including many who are partisan political operatives -- concentrated not on the key questions the overall story raised but on the documents that were part of the support of the story.

Which is an almost textbook example of the fallacy of circular reasoning. Or, as Rush Limbaugh puts it, "It isn't the quality of the evidence that counts. It's the seriousness of the charges." Which is exactly what Rather is attempting; to make the charges themselves, the evidence.

But, it's a brave new world, Dan. In the New Media Age logic and evidence actually count for something. Wishful thinking and strongly emotional needs to believe, nothing.

The answer to the first four "questions" Rather is asking, is "no". And to the final one; yes, he did meet his obligations; that's why he got an honorable discharge on October 1, 1973. A discharge recommended by none other than Lt. Col. Jerry Killian on Sept. 6th of that year.

Bush didn't need any political help to get into the Guard because there were openings. The unit was 156 men understrength in mid 1968, as this Dallas Morning News article (courtesy of Beldar the Magnificent) made clear in 1999.

But, more importantly, Bush's goal wasn't to get into the National Guard at all. His goal was to become a fighter pilot. It just so happened that the Texas ANG was the best way to assure that would happen. He specifically signed up for a unit that flew F-102s. Which (Mr. Rather seems to unaware of) was a combat aircraft, and people qualified to fly it were qualified to engage in combat in Vietnam. Training for combat in 1968, at the peak of the hostilities for Americans in Vietnam, would be an astonishingly stupid way to insure oneself against getting sent to Vietnam.

Dan Rather, and similar intellects, are engaging in another textbook fallacy; post hoc, ergo propter hoc. They reason: Bush didn't go to Vietnam, thus it was because he deliberately got into a unit that couldn't be sent to Vietnam. Their syllogism would be:

Major Premise: Bush didn't go to Vietnam
Minor Premise: Bush served in the Air Nat'l Guard
Conclusion: Air Nat'l Guard Service was exempt from Vietnam

Which is not only invalid logic, but is factually incorrect. F-102s, flown by Texas ANG pilots were in Vietnam in 1968 (when Bush got into the ANG), as well as F-100s flown by ANG pilots. And. even if there weren't, there was no guarantee that the President couldn't order stateside units mobilized in the future (gee, has that ever happened?).

Further, Bush did volunteer to go to Vietnam. Twice, according the son of the man whose signature is forged unto three of the memos CBS is fraudulently representing as evidence.

The reason Bush didn't serve in Vietnam is that when he volunteered there were other pilots with more experience ahead of him (and his friend Fred Bradley who was also not accepted). That, and that by the time Bush did have some hours in the cockpit, Richard Nixon had been elected and changed the strategy to Vietnamization. Meaning we were withdrawing pilots from the war and bringing them home (to absorb scarce flying hours stateside, which is why Bush was eventually able to get an "early out" to attend Harvard Business School).

As for the charges that Bush refused a direct order from his CO, we have pretty convincing evidence to the contrary. Signed 12 days after the alleged disobedience, by the very same Jerry Killian who supposedly was disobeyed. It gives Bush an overall rating of "exceptionally fine".

Finally, in addition to the physical evidence demolishing the legitimacy of the memos, there is a whopper of a chronological blunder: Pilots were, by regulation, required to take an annual flight physical in their birth month. Which, for Bush is July. Not May, as the inept forger has Jerry Killian ordering Bush to do (i.e. ordering Bush to violate regulations).

So, Dan, I'd suggest you prepare two sets of acceptance remarks on the big night.

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