Wednesday, September 08, 2004

When Smart Economists Say Stupid, Stupid, Things

Berkeley economist (and former Deputy Asst. Treasury Sec'y in the Clinton Administration) Brad DeLong is again unable to resist the Bush was AWOL flame--suffering 3rd degree burns in the process.

There was a time when I expected economists--who are trained logicians--to be be able to control their emotions well enough to be able to see blatant errors for what they are. Consider this howler from the
Boston Globe piece:

Bush walked away from his obligation to join a reserve unit
in the Boston area when he moved to Cambridge in September 1973. By not joining
a unit in Massachusetts, Lloyd said in an interview last month, Bush ''took a
chance that he could be called up for active duty. But the war was winding
By September of 1973 the war had been officially over for 9 months. And unofficially for a lot longer than that. It's bad enough that the Globe (and the Berkeley professor who reads it) didn't catch that, but had they bothered to check the documents released some months ago by the Bush Administration, they'd have seen that Bush received an "early out" from his commitment to the Texas ANG to attend Harvard Business School in the fall of 1973. So there was absolutely no reason for Bush to find a Nat'l Guard unit where he could train. Here is the request and acceptance of Bush's "early out"

Contrary to the Boston Globe, it wasn't "hundreds" of young men, but tens of thousands, who received early outs to attend colleges once the war was winding down. The military simply didn't need the same force levels in 1973 they did in 1968 (the year Bush enlisted). Again this is a point I would have once expected a trained economist to grasp. But years of Paul Krugman Op-eds, and Semi-Daily Journal rantings have disabused me of that.

The Globe article is an intellectual embarrassment of the first order. Consider:

no one has come forward with any credible recollection of
having witnessed Bush performing guard service in Alabama

No one except John Calhoun, Joe LeFevers and James Copeland (who arranged for Bush to get paid for his service) who all remember Lt. Bush being on Dannelly air base in Alabama. Which happens to be three more people than can testify that John Kerry fulfilled the terms of his enlistment.

Which clearly calls for Kerry to serve three years active duty, two years of ready reserve (with 48 drills per year of week-end warrioring, and a 17 day "summer camp"), and one year of standby reserve with no activity. Kerry fulfilled the three years active duty by early 1970. He appears to have plead the need to blow off the two years of ready reserve drills because he was going to run for congress. However, that intention didn't last long. Once relieved of his obligation, he withdrew in favor of another Democrat.

Still unresolved is the question of why Kerry didn't receive his discharge in 1972, when his service should have ended, but six years later in 1978. A good question for George W. Bush would be: "You say you think John Kerry served honorably. Can you think of a reason why he didn't get his honorable discharge when his six year term ran out?"

From personal experience I know that Professor DeLong has no interest in these oddities in the Kerry military record. I wonder why.