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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 2:03 am 
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I recently saw the cover of the USA Today (I think it was) with W landing on the aircraft carrier, and smiles all around, as he proclaimed another victory in the war on "terra." I noticed the guys in the military seemed to love him, and it's always bugged the crap out of me.

While Clinton was painted as a yellow-bellied, dope smoking, draft dodging hippie, and Gore was ridiculed for being a journalist in Vietnam, W has essentially gotten a free pass on his dubious military background.

I've always wondered why the guys in the military don't resent him, instead of embracing him. As Bill Maher said, W is like the boss's son who comes in and fires you. Is this what they want? How about this quote from Colin Powell's autobiography:

Quote:
"I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed and so many professional athletes (who were probably healthier than any of us)managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegience to their country."

--Colin Powell, "My American Journey," p. 148


But after reading this article from the Chicago Tribune, maybe it all makes more sense now:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/colu ... 324.column

Eric Zorn: 'Media AWOL in noting irony of Bush's flight'
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune

So much for that myth--the cynical distortion that has become conventional wisdom in many circles. During the presidential campaign of 2000, it started going around that Texas Gov. George W. Bush, then the leading Republican candidate, had significant gaps in his military record.

Specifically, that Bush failed to report for duty for an entire year toward the end of his hitch with the Texas Air National Guard.

The short version: In May 1968 the silver-spoon son of a U.S. congressman jumped to the top of a long waiting list despite mediocre scores on his pilot-aptitude test and was allowed to enlist in the Guard, a common way to avoid being drafted into combat in Vietnam.

In May 1972 he sought a transfer from Houston, where he flew F-102s on weekends, to a unit in Montgomery, Ala. There, he worked on the U.S. Senate campaign of a friend of his father's and, records indicate, blew off his military obligations.

Bush failed to take his annual flight physical in 1972 so Guard officials grounded him, the story went. He never flew again and received an early discharge to go to graduate school. His final officer-efficiency report from May 1973 noted only that supervisors hadn't seen him or heard from him.

Bush's campaign biography obscured or misrepresented these details. In the summer and fall of 2000, his spokesmen offered various and evolving explanations for what Democrats said represented a far bigger "character issue" than any of the windy exaggerations of their candidate, Vice President Al Gore.

"If he is elected president, how will he be able to deal as commander in chief with someone who goes AWOL, when he did the same thing?" Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey said to the Boston Globe, where veteran investigative reporter Walter V. Robinson, a former Army intelligence officer, wrote several major stories on the subject. "This stinks."

Yes, but like Bush at the end of his hitch, it didn't fly. A search of all news publications and programs archived in the LexisNexis database for the last seven months of the 2000 campaign found 114 stories referencing Bush, the Texas Air National Guard and Alabama. Over that same span, nearly 10 times that many stories--1,076 to be exact--referenced Al Gore and the expression "invented the internet," an allusion to the bogus charge then haunting Gore that he had wildly inflated his role in the online revolution.

The "Bush AWOL?" story appeared in this newspaper and was based on good reporting and still-unanswered questions. It faded away--a scant 14 mentions in the database for all of 2001 and 2002 due to the age of the allegations, the lack of any new developments and the urgency of current events.

Last week, though, the president all but wore a "Kick Me!" sticker on the back of his flight suit when he decided to land on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the co-pilot's seat of an S-3B Viking jet.

Imagine the derisive merriment in the columns and on the chat shows if former President Bill Clinton revived the skirt-chasing issue by touring a sorority house or if Gore delivered a lecture to the engineers at Netscape Communications Corp. Think of the snickering and the sardonic rehash of history.

But for Bush in flyboy attire, a discreet silence. The only voices I encountered raising this issue were David Corn in the Nation; Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin, who asked, "Tell me if you ever heard of anybody with as powerful a resistance to shame as Bush"; and talk station WLS-AM's token progressives Nancy Skinner and Ski Anderson, who spent a full hour Sunday afternoon savoring the irony of it all.

There was no relentless examination of the damning timeline on cable news outlets, no interviewing the commanders who swear Bush didn't show up where he was supposed to, no sit-downs with the veterans who have offered still-unclaimed cash rewards to anyone who can prove that Bush did anything at all in the Guard during his last months before discharge.

So much for the cynical distortion that has become conventional wisdom in many circles. So much for the myth of the "liberal media."

Copyright © 2003, Chicago Tribune


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 9:13 am 
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Well, the media is more interested in suspending DJs who play the Dixie Chicks in violation of corporate edict then in pointing out that Bush, in his apparent desire to act out the climax of "Independence Day," is really thumbing his nose at everyone who was drafted to fight in Vietnam.

Imagine the outcry if Clinton had done the same thing. (Remember Dukakis being mocked in '88 for riding around in a tank?) Of course, Big Bill might not have been able to wedge himself into a regulation flight suit, but that's a different issue...

Ryan


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 11:18 am 
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http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/06/opinion/06KRUG.html

Man on Horseback
By PAUL KRUGMAN


Gen. Georges Boulanger cut a fine figure; he looked splendid in uniform, and magnificent on horseback. So his handlers made sure that he appeared in uniform, astride a horse, as often as possible.

It worked: Boulanger became immensely popular. If he hadn't lost his nerve on the night of the attempted putsch, French democracy might have ended in 1889.

We do things differently here — or we used to. Has "man on horseback" politics come to America?

Some background: the Constitution declares the president commander in chief of the armed forces to make it clear that civilians, not the military, hold ultimate authority. That's why American presidents traditionally make a point of avoiding military affectations. Dwight Eisenhower was a victorious general and John Kennedy a genuine war hero, but while in office neither wore anything that resembled military garb.

Given that history, George Bush's "Top Gun" act aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln — c'mon, guys, it wasn't about honoring the troops, it was about showing the president in a flight suit — was as scary as it was funny.

Mind you, it was funny. At first the White House claimed the dramatic tail-hook landing was necessary because the carrier was too far out to use a helicopter. In fact, the ship was so close to shore that, according to The Associated Press, administration officials "acknowledged positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline."

A U.S.-based British journalist told me that he and his colleagues had laughed through the whole scene. If Tony Blair had tried such a stunt, he said, the press would have demanded to know how many hospital beds could have been provided for the cost of the jet fuel.

But U.S. television coverage ranged from respectful to gushing. Nobody pointed out that Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition. And nobody seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience. (Spare me the hate mail. An exhaustive study by The Boston Globe found no evidence that Mr. Bush fulfilled any of his duties during that missing year. And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news.)

Anyway, it was quite a show. Luckily for Mr. Bush, the frustrating search for Osama bin Laden somehow morphed into a good old-fashioned war, the kind where you seize the enemy's capital and get to declare victory after a cheering crowd pulls down the tyrant's statue. (It wasn't much of a crowd, and American soldiers actually brought down the statue, but it looked great on TV.)

Let me be frank. Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don't qualify — though we haven't found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn't waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration's lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq's main nuclear waste dump wasn't secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?

Well, Mr. Bush got to pose in his flight suit. And given the absence of awkward questions, his handlers surely feel empowered to make even more brazen use of the national security issue in future.

Next year — in early September — the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?

And who will ask why, if the administration is so proud of its response to Sept. 11, it has gone to such lengths to prevent a thorough, independent inquiry into what actually happened? (An independent study commission wasn't created until after the 2002 election, and it has been given little time and a ludicrously tiny budget.)

There was a time when patriotic Americans from both parties would have denounced any president who tried to take political advantage of his role as commander in chief. But that, it seems, was another country.

_________________
RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney


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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 2:32 pm 
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Hadn't read the first article, but I read the second one in today's paper. And it made angry. Using American military personnel as extras in a photo op--a PR stunt. Yes, the man has high tolerance to shame. Or no shame at all.

How does he get away with it while Democrats get skewered? I think three reasons: one, the media goes the extra yard when covering a Democrat's blunder so as to compensate for their supposed liberal bias [and give Republicans a bye for he same reason]. Two, Democrats are fucking pussies who deep down want to play fair while Republicans, spearheaded by the Religious Right, are relentless and won't quit until their victim is thoroughly bloodied and beaten. And last, Americans are idiots. It was clear during the debate for what would be his second term that Ronald Reagan was more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Made no difference. Bush, during the debates with Gore, showed that he couldn't speak in complete sentences. Made no difference. Used to be you had to at least sound presidential--now all you need is the look.

There were so many things *wrong* about Bush that were known before the election--his failure to complete his Reserve obligation was merely one in a long list. They all were duly reported--and all duly ignored. Compare these--fucking *serious* character issues--with Clinton and Whitewater--something that should have been nothing more than a blip but was investigated for how many years? Congressional hearings? Got to give it to those Republicans, though. When they smell blood, they go in for the kill. And they look much better than Democrats in military gear.


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PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 3:59 pm 
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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld ... 9723.story

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bush's Landing on Carrier Draws Criticism

By Edwin Chen, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — President Bush's dramatic arrival on an aircraft carrier off San Diego last week wasn't necessary after all. He simply wanted to experience the thrill of a military jet's tail-hook landing, rather than taking a more traditional helicopter ride out to the vessel, the White House acknowledged Tuesday.

About six hours after arriving aboard the Abraham Lincoln Thursday, Bush delivered a prime-time address to the nation, declaring an end to the major combat phase of the Iraq war.

Since then, his highly choreographed visit to the ship, which was returning after more than nine months of duty in the Persian Gulf region, has drawn criticism from some Democrats. They have accused the White House of staging a political event aimed at bolstering Bush's expected reelection bid, featuring stirring images likely to end up in campaign ads.

After the president emerged from an S-3B Viking jet in a green flight suit, his helmet under one arm, he was surrounded by admiring servicemen and servicewomen — who later turned out by the thousands to cheer him during his speech on the flight deck. The carrier was positioned during Bush's speech so that television cameras would show an open sea in the background, rather than the California coastline.

Initially, White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer had told reporters that Bush had to take a jet from San Diego to the Lincoln because it was "hundreds" of miles at sea, beyond a helicopter's range.

But Fleischer set the record straight Tuesday when asked again about Bush's unusual travel arrangements.

The spokesman's explanation: The Lincoln, as it turned out, made faster progress than had been anticipated, due in part to good weather. As a result, the carrier was only about 30 miles offshore, and easily within helicopter range, by the time Bush arrived in San Diego.

But the president, a former pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, was set on jetting out to the Lincoln.

"The president wanted to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing," Fleischer said. "He wanted to see it as realistically as possible. And that's why, once the initial decision was made to fly out on the Viking, even when a helicopter option became doable, the president decided instead he wanted to still take the Viking."

Fleischer also dismissed questions about whether Bush's appearance delayed the ship's arrival, saying that it came into port exactly as scheduled.

"Keep in mind, the original day — even before anybody thought about going to the Abraham Lincoln — was for the [carrier] to arrive in port on May 2," he said. "That was the date that was promised to the crews and to their families, and the date that was kept. But, indeed, the ship did make much faster progress than anticipated."

While aboard the Lincoln, Fleischer said he asked about the Lincoln's unexpected progress toward shore.

"It's a factor of the weather — they were able to get closer to shore," Fleischer said. "But the bottom line remains the same: that the president wanted to arrive on it in a manner that would allow him to see an arrival on a carrier the same way pilots got to see an arrival on a carrier."

Fleischer's explanation did not satisfy all critics.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) took to the Senate floor Tuesday to castigate the president. "I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan, and yet that is what I saw," he said.

"I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have performed bravely and skillfully but I do question the motives of a desk-bound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech."

Rep. Henry A. Waxman of Los Angeles, the top Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, asked David M. Walker, comptroller general of the General Accounting Office, for a "full accounting of the costs associated with the president's trip," because "last week's event — which had clear political overtones — was paid for by American taxpayers."

Copyright 2003 Los Angeles Times


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 Post subject: Senator Byrd's statement
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 4:13 pm 
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Senator Robert Byrd: 'Making the military a stage prop for politics'
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Senator Robert Byrd

In my 50 years as a member of Congress, I have had the privilege to witness the defining rhetorical moments of a number of American presidents. I have listened spellbound to the soaring oratory of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I have listened grimly to the painful soul-searching of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

Presidential speeches are an important marker of any President's legacy. These are the tangible moments that history seizes upon and records for posterity. For this reason, I was deeply troubled by both the content and the context of President Bush's remarks to the American people last week marking the end of the combat phase of the war in Iraq. As I watched the President's fighter jet swoop down onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, I could not help but contrast the reported simple dignity of President Lincoln at Gettysburg with the flamboyant showmanship of President Bush aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

President Bush's address to the American people announcing combat victory in Iraq deserved to be marked with solemnity, not extravagance; with gratitude to God, not self-congratulatory gestures. American blood has been shed on foreign soil in defense of the President's policies. This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial. This is real life, and real lives have been lost. To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the President to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech. I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have performed bravely and skillfully, as have their countrymen still in Iraq, but I do question the motives of a deskbound President who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech.

As I watched the President's speech, before the great banner proclaiming "Mission Accomplished," I could not help but be reminded of the tobacco barns of my youth, which served as country road advertising backdrops for the slogans of chewing tobacco purveyors. I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan, and yet that is what I saw.

What I heard the President say also disturbed me. It may make for grand theater to describe Saddam Hussein as an ally of al Qaeda or to characterize the fall of Baghdad as a victory in the war on terror, but stirring rhetoric does not necessarily reflect sobering reality. Not one of the 19 September 11th hijackers was an Iraqi. In fact, there is not a shred of evidence to link the September 11 attack on the United States to Iraq. There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was an evil despot who brought great suffering to the Iraqi people, and there is no doubt in my mind that he encouraged and rewarded acts of terrorism against Israel. But his crimes are not those of Osama bin Laden, and bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not bring justice to the victims of 9-11. The United States has made great progress in its efforts to disrupt and destroy the al Qaeda terror network. We can take solace and satisfaction in that fact. We should not risk tarnishing those very real accomplishments by trumpeting victory in Iraq as a victory over Osama bin Laden.

We are reminded in the gospel of Saint Luke, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Surely the same can be said of any American president. We expect, nay demand, that our leaders be scrupulous in the truth and faithful to the facts. We do not seek theatrics or hyperbole. We do not require the stage management of our victories. The men and women of the United States military are to be saluted for their valor and sacrifice in Iraq. Their heroics and quiet resolve speak for themselves. The prowess and professionalism of America's military forces do not need to be embellished by the gaudy excesses of a political campaign.

War is not theater, and victory is not a campaign slogan. I join with the President and all Americans in expressing heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our men and women in uniform for their service to our country, and for the sacrifices that they have made on our behalf. But on this point I differ with the President: I believe that our military forces deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and not used as stage props to embellish a presidential speech.


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 Post subject: Good website
PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 1:20 pm 
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http://www.awolbush.com/


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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 4:22 pm 
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Patrick M wrote:

I've always wondered why the guys in the military don't resent him, instead of embracing him.


Trust me, many hate him. They just can't say it in public. For some, it's a risk to speak out against him publically. By the same, many secretly admired and agreed with Clinton, but they could not express it for fear of angering their superiors.

I live among the military.


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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 12:08 am 
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Grant wrote:
By the same, many secretly admired and agreed with Clinton, but they could not express it for fear of angering their superiors.


For real? Are you talking higher military ranks? I thought just like Dubya, Slick Willy was generally considered an Idiot by most.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 10:56 pm 
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From the liberal pinkos at Salon.

Sept. 2, 2004 | NEW YORK -- Before there was Karl Rove, Lee Atwater or even James Baker, the Bush family's political guru was a gregarious newspaper owner and campaign consultant from Midland, Texas, named Jimmy Allison. In the spring of 1972, George H.W. Bush phoned his friend and asked a favor: Could Allison find a place on the Senate campaign he was managing in Alabama for his troublesome eldest son, the 25-year-old George W. Bush?

"The impression I had was that Georgie was raising a lot of hell in Houston, getting in trouble and embarrassing the family, and they just really wanted to get him out of Houston and under Jimmy's wing," Allison's widow, Linda, told me. "And Jimmy said, 'Sure.' He was so loyal."

Linda Allison's story, never before published, contradicts the Bush campaign's assertion that George W. Bush transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama National Guard in 1972 because he received an irresistible offer to gain high-level experience on the campaign of Bush family friend Winton "Red" Blount. In fact, according to what Allison says her late husband told her, the younger Bush had become a political liability for his father, who was then the United States ambassador to the United Nations, and the family wanted him out of Texas. "I think they wanted someone they trusted to keep an eye on him," Linda Allison said.

After more than three decades of silence, Allison spoke with Salon over several days before and during the Republican National Convention this week -- motivated, as she acknowledged, by a complex mixture of emotions. They include pride in her late husband's accomplishments, a desire to see him remembered, and concern about the apparent double standard in Bush surrogates attacking John Kerry's Vietnam War record while ignoring the president's irresponsible conduct during the war. She also admits to bewilderment and hurt over the rupture her husband experienced in his friendship with George and Barbara Bush. To this day, Allison is unsure what caused the break, though she suspects it had something to do with her husband's opposition to the elder Bush becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee under President Nixon.

"Something happened that I don't know about. But I do know that Jimmy didn't expect it, and it broke his heart," she said, describing a ruthless side to the genial Bush clan of which few outsiders are aware.

Personal history aside, Allison's recollections of the young George Bush in Alabama in 1972 are relevant as a contrast to the medals for valor and bravery that Kerry won in Vietnam in the same era. An apparent front group for the Bush campaign, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, has attacked Kerry in television ads as a liar and traitor to veterans for later opposing a war that cost 58,000 American lives. Bush, who has resisted calls from former Vietnam War POW John McCain, R-Ariz., to repudiate the Swift Boat ads, has said he served honorably in the National Guard.

Allison's account corroborates a Washington Post investigation in February that found no credible witnesses to the service in the Alabama National Guard that Bush maintains he performed, despite a lack of documentary evidence. Asked if she'd ever seen Bush in a uniform, Allison said: "Good lord, no. I had no idea that the National Guard was involved in his life in any way." Allison also confirmed previously published accounts that Bush often showed up in the Blount campaign offices around noon, boasting about how much alcohol he had consumed the night before. (Bush has admitted that he was a heavy drinker in those years, but he has refused to say whether he also used drugs).

"After about a month I asked Jimmy what was Georgie's job, because I couldn't figure it out. I never saw him do anything. He told me it basically consisted of him contacting people who were impressed by his name and asking for contributions and support," Allison said.

C. Murphy Archibald, a nephew of Red Blount by marriage and a Vietnam veteran who volunteered on the campaign from September 1972 until election night, corroborated Allison's recollections, though he doesn't recall that the Bush name carried much caché in Alabama at the time. "I say that because the scuttlebutt on the campaign was that Allison was very sharp and might actually be able to pull off this difficult race" against the incumbent Democrat, Sen. John Sparkman, Archibald said. "But then no one understood why he brought this young guy from Texas along. It was like, 'Who was this guy who comes in late and leaves early? And why would Jimmy Allison, who was so impressive, bring him on?'"

Bush, who had a paid slot as Allison's deputy in a campaign staffed largely by volunteers, sat in a little office next to Allison's, said Archibald, a workers compensation lawyer in Charlotte, N.C. Indeed, when Bush was actually there, he did make phone calls to county chairmen. But he neglected his other duty: the mundane but important task of mailing out campaign materials to the county campaign chairs. Archibald took up the slack, at Allison's request. "Jimmy didn't say anything about George. He just said, 'These materials are not getting out. It's causing the candidate problems. Will you take it over?'"

While Kerry earned a Silver Star and a Bronze Star after saving a crewmate's life under fire on the Mekong River in Vietnam, by contrast, the Georgie that Allison knew was a young man whose parents did not allow him to live with the consequences of his own mistakes. His powerful father -- whom the son seemed to both idolize and resent -- was a lifeline for Bush out of predicaments. After Bush graduated from Yale in 1968, his slot in the Texas Air National Guard allowed him to avoid active duty service in Vietnam. The former speaker of the Texas state House, Democrat Ben Barnes, now admits he pulled strings to get Bush his coveted guard slot, and says he's "ashamed" of the deed. "60 Minutes" will air an interview with Barnes next Wednesday, but George H.W. Bush denounced Barnes' claims in an interview aired on CBS. "They keep saying that and it's a lie, a total lie. Nobody's come up with any evidence, and yet it's repeated all the time," the former president said, in what could just as well describe the playbook for the Swift Boat Veterans ads.

Yet, after receiving unusual permission to transfer to the Alabama Guard from Texas, Bush has produced no evidence he showed up for service for anything other than a dental exam. Later, Bush would trade on his father's connections to enter the oil business, and when his ventures failed, trade on more connections to find investors to bail him out. Linda Allison's story fills in the details about a missing chapter in the story of how George Bush Sr.'s friends helped his wastrel son. The Bush campaign, decamped to New York for the convention, did not return a phone call by late Wednesday.

A graceful blonde with a Texas drawl, Linda Allison now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in an apartment decorated in the dusky tones of Tuscany with a magnificent view of the high-rises framing Central Park. I visited her there Monday on the opening night of the Republican National Convention as she related publicly for the first time her long and ultimately painful history with the Bush family. On the table between us were two photographs of her late husband -- an elfin man with curly hair, shown in animated conversation. From her drawers she pulled out old letters and notes from Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush and even one from George W. Bush, written to Jimmy in 1978 as he was dying of cancer.

Jimmy Allison's family owned the Midland Reporter-Telegram and other small-town newspapers, and they were part of the establishment in the West Texas oil town where Bush senior made his fortune and Bush junior grew up. Still, Allison has been almost completely forgotten in the semi-official stories of the Bush dynasty's rise; his role as political fixer and family friend has been airbrushed out of Barbara Bush's autobiography and other accounts. But he was one of the originators of what evolved into the GOP's "Southern strategy," helping George H.W. Bush win election to Congress in 1966 at a time when Republicans in Texas were virtually unheard of.

The Blount Senate campaign he ran against the Democrat, Sparkman, in 1972 was notable for a dirty racial trick: The Blount side edited a transcript of a radio interview Sparkman had given to make it appear he supported busing, a poison position at that time in the South. When Sparkman found an unedited script and exposed the trick, the Blount campaign was finished. But it was an early introduction for Bush to the kinds of tricks that later Republican strategists associated with the Bush political machine, from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove, would use against Democrats, often to victorious effect.

After Bush won a House seat in 1966, Allison followed his patron to Washington as the top staffer in his congressional office and served as deputy director of the Republican National Committee in 1969 and 1970 under President Nixon. It was Allison who advised George W. Bush to return to Midland after Harvard Business School to seek his business fortune in the booming oil industry, advice that Bush recalled fondly in a 2001 speech in Midland. When Allison died at age 46, after an agonizing battle with lymphoma, both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush served as pallbearers.

"Aide, confidant, campaign manager, source of joke material, alter ego -- Allison and Bush were bonded by an uncommon loyalty," former Reagan White House deputy press secretary Peter Roussel, who got his start in politics when Allison invited him to work for Bush's 1968 congressional reelection campaign, wrote in a 1988 newspaper column dedicated to Allison.

Linda, too, had a long, though not as close, relationship with the Bushes. She remembers watching Bush in 1964 at a campaign appearance at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, when she was 32 years old and he was running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. "He was so appealing to me. He said all the things that I believed in, and he wasn't like all the other Republicans running in Texas at that time, who were real right-wingers. He had a bigger vision of what the Republican Party could be. I volunteered for his campaign that day, and that's how I ended up being his Dallas County headquarters chairman." Over the years, Linda kept volunteering with the local Republican Party. "And they gave me bigger and bigger things to do. They appreciated me. And I felt like I belonged to something," she said.

But it was also this sense of being connected to a larger, more powerful force that seduced the Allisons -- a trap that many aides and friends of important politicians fall into. The dynamic allowed the Bushes -- Barbara especially, Allison said -- to manipulate the friends and supporters they needed to further their ambitions, a lesson she says could not have been lost on the young George. "They had a way of anointing you, then pushing you out," she said. "It was like a mind game. It was very subtle, very hard to describe. But when you were out, you wanted desperately to be let back in." It was how she and Jimmy felt when, in 1973, they experienced a strange and, to Allison, never fully explained rupture with the Bushes, which took place against the backdrop of boorish behavior by their son that persisted during the time he was nominally under the Allisons' care.

The break happened not long after a boozy election-night wake for Blount, who lost his Senate bid to the incumbent Democrat, John Sparkman. Leaving the election-night "celebration," Allison remembers encountering George W. Bush in the parking lot, urinating on a car, and hearing later about how he'd yelled obscenities at police officers that night. Bush left a house he'd rented in Montgomery trashed -- the furniture broken, walls damaged and a chandelier destroyed, the Birmingham News reported in February. "He was just a rich kid who had no respect for other people's possessions," Mary Smith, a member of the family who rented the house, told the newspaper, adding that a bill sent to Bush for repairs was never paid. And a month later, in December, during a visit to his parents' home in Washington, Bush drunkenly challenged his father to go "mano a mano," as has often been reported.

Around the same time, for the 1972 Christmas holiday, the Allisons met up with the Bushes on vacation in Hobe Sound, Fla. Tension was still evident between Bush and his parents. Linda was a passenger in a car driven by Barbara Bush as they headed to lunch at the local beach club. Bush, who was 26 years old, got on a bicycle and rode in front of the car in a slow, serpentine manner, forcing his mother to crawl along. "He rode so slowly that he kept having to put his foot down to get his balance, and he kept in a weaving pattern so we couldn't get past," Allison recalled. "He was obviously furious with his mother about something, and she was furious at him, too."

Jimmy, meanwhile, had larger issues on his mind. According to Linda, he was hoping to use the visit in Florida to convince Bush to turn down the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee because he didn't trust Nixon or his palace guard. "He had been so appalled at the Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Colson group, and he thought they'd sacrifice George. He just wanted to warn him, as a friend," Allison told me.

Apparently, Jimmy Allison's advice was not appreciated. In Hobe Sound, Bush senior kept trying to avoid talking with Jimmy about the RNC, Allison said. Then later, as the Allisons took their leave, Barbara "thanked" them for their Christmas present with unexpected cruelty. "She said, 'I'm so sorry, but we've been so busy this year that we didn't have time to do anything for our political acquaintances.' I swear to God, I'll never forget those two words as long as I live. For her to say that was absolutely appalling. Mind you, Jimmy was an old, old friend. And I had stayed as a houseguest with the Bushes, been invited in my pajamas into their bedroom to read the papers and drink coffee while Bar rode her exercise bicycle.

"Big George was just stricken by this," Allison continued. "There was a wet bar in the hall on the way to the front door. He grabbed this moldy bottle of Mai Tai that he said had been given to him by the president of China, and he said we just had to have it. Then he plucked this ostrich egg in a beaded bag from a shelf that he said had been given to him by the ambassador to the U.N. from Nigeria or someplace, and gave it to us. Can you imagine how embarrassing that was?"

The Allisons found they were no longer being invited to the Sunday cookouts the Bushes held to chew over the week's political events. And though Jimmy had once been deputy chairman of the RNC, when Bush chaired the committee, he "couldn't even get invited to a cocktail party there," Allison said. The freeze-out was subtle and surgical. "It took us some time to realize we'd been lopped off," she said. At home, the Allisons once decided to try that dusty bottle of Mai Tai from China that Bush had thrust into their hands in Hobe Sound. They were unable to drink the liquor. "It was so foul. The smell that came out of that thing! We just looked at each other," Allison said.

By 1978, Jimmy was dying. Whether out of guilt, genuine affection for old times or a desire to maintain appearances with a revered member of the Midland establishment, the Bushes responded with warmth. Jimmy's heart soared, Allison said.

George W. Bush, then running unsuccessfully for Congress, wrote his old mentor a letter. "Every person I see in Midland asks about you and sends their regards," Bush wrote. "Like a younger brother, I have treasured your advice, your guidance and most importantly your never selfish friendship." And shortly before he died, George H.W. Bush -– by then an executive at a bank in Houston after having served as head of the Central Intelligence Agency -– invited Jimmy back to his home. Elated, Jimmy persuaded the doctors to discharge him for the visit, Linda said. But Linda, who was not consulted, was incensed. Though she drove him to the Bushes, she refused to go in. "I was so furious. I had no way to take care of him. He was so weak, and they had taken him off the morphine, and he was in great pain," she said.

In a letter to the editor of Allison's newspaper in Midland after his death, Bush recalled that day: "He swam and relaxed. He was very weak but the warm water soothed him. He gave us hope. 'I'm going to make it,' he said."

But soon after Linda picked him up, Jimmy crashed. "He was in so much pain. It was unreal." At the emergency room, he waited 10 hours for medical attention. "I begged them to do something. I begged," she said, wiping tears from her eyes. "He was in so much pain. I was so angry." Jimmy died about a week later.

More than a quarter century later, George W. Bush is running for reelection as a "war" president. At the Republican Convention, delegates pass out Purple Heart stickers mocking Kerry's Vietnam wounds as "a self-inflicted scratch," and George H.W. Bush, speaking on CNN, lauds the Swift Boat Veterans' claims against Kerry as "rather compelling." Karl Rove tells the Associated Press that Kerry's opposition to a war that Bush avoided had served to "tarnish the records and service of people who were defending our country and fighting communism." Barbara Bush tells USA Today: "I die over every untruth that I hear about George -- I mean, every one."

Linda Allison watches it all from her New York apartment. About George W. Bush's disputed sojourn in Alabama, she asks simply: "Can we all be lying?"

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
Mary Jacoby is Salon's Washington correspondent.


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Lawsuit uncovers Bush Guard records


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Months after insisting it could find no more records of President Bush's Air National Guard service, the Defense Department has released more than two dozen pages of files, including Bush's report card for flight training and dates of his flights.

The records, released under pressure of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press, show Bush ranked in the middle of his 1969 flight training class and flew 336 hours for the Texas Air National Guard, mostly in the F-102A fighter.

The Pentagon and Bush's campaign have claimed for months that all records detailing his fighter pilot career have been made public, but defense officials acknowledged Tuesday they had found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after the AP sued and submitted new requests under the public records law.

"Previous requests from other requesters for President Bush's Individual Flight Records did not lead to the discovery of these records because at the time President Bush left the service, flight records were subject to retention for only 24 months and we understood that neither the Air Force nor the Texas Air National Guard retained such records thereafter," the Pentagon told the AP.

"Out of an abundance of caution," the government "searched a file that had been preserved in spite of this policy" and found the Bush records, the letter said. "The Department of Defense regrets this oversight during the previous search efforts."

Bush's Vietnam-era service in the Texas Air National Guard has become an issue in the presidential campaign as the candidates spar over who would make the best commander in chief. Supporters of Democratic nominee John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, have criticized Bush for serving stateside in the National Guard. Kerry's Republican critics claim Kerry did not deserve some of his five medals.

A group called Texans for Truth planned to launch an ad this week in which a lieutenant colonel in the Alabama Air National Guard questions Bush's absence from his National Guard service in Montgomery, Alabama. The group says it plans to spend about $100,000 to run the ad.

The ad asks "Was George W. Bush AWOL in Alabama?" and implores: "Tell us whom you served with Mr. President."

In the ad, Bob Mintz claims he served at the same air base and in the same unit as Bush in 1972 but never saw Bush there. "It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size," Mintz says in the ad. "AWOL" stands for Away Without Leave.

Bush has said repeatedly he is proud of his Air National Guard service. As late as last week, White House spokesmen said the administration knew of no other records of Bush's military service.

"These documents confirm that the president served honorably in the National Guard," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Tuesday night.

Democratic National Committee communications director Jano Cabrera disagreed. "For months George Bush told the nation that all his military records were public," he said. "Now we know why Bush was trying so hard to withhold these records. When his nation asked him to be on call against possible surprise attacks, Bush wasn't there."

The newly released records show Bush, a lieutenant in the Texas Air National Guard, ranked No. 22 in a class of 53 pilots when he finished his flight training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia in 1969.

Over the next three years, he logged 326.4 hours as a pilot and an additional 9.9 hours as a co-pilot, mostly in the F-102A jet used to intercept enemy aircraft. Of the 278 hours he flew in the interceptor, about 77 hours were in the TF-102A, the two-seat trainer version of the one-seat fighter jet.

The records show his last flight was in April 1972, which is consistent with pay records indicating Bush had a lapse of duty between April and October of that year. Bush has said he had permission to go to Alabama in 1972 to work on an unsuccessful Republican Senate campaign. Bush skipped a required medical exam that cost him his pilot's status in August of that year.

Bush's 2000 campaign suggested the future president skipped his medical exam in part because the F-102A was nearly obsolete. Records show Bush's Texas unit flew the F-102A until 1974 and used the jets as part of an air defense drill during 1972.

A six-month historical record of his 147th Fighter Interceptor Group, also turned over to the AP on Tuesday, shows some of the training Bush missed with his colleagues during that time.

It showed the unit joined a "24-hour active alert mission to safeguard against surprise attack" in the southern United States beginning on Oct. 6, 1972, a mission for which Bush was not present, according to his pay records.

Bush's lone service in October was outside Texas, presumably with an Alabama unit he had permission to train with in September, October and November 1972.

As part of the mission, the 147th kept two F-102A jets -- the same type Bush flew before he was grounded -- on ready alert to be launched within five minutes' warning.

The records also show Bush made a grade of 88 on total airmanship and a perfect 100 for flying without navigational instruments, operating a T-38 System and studying applied aerodynamics. Other scores ranged from 89 in flight planning to 98 in aviation physiology.

The newly released records do not include any from five categories of documents Bush's commanders had been required to keep in response to the gaps in Bush's training in 1972 and 1973. For example, National Guard commanders were required to perform an investigation whenever any pilot skipped a medical exam and forward the results up the Air Force chain of command. No such documents have surfaced. (Bush military file lacks required records)

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press.

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Quote:
"These documents confirm that the president served honorably in the National Guard," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said Tuesday night.


Quote:
In the ad, Bob Mintz claims he served at the same air base and in the same unit as Bush in 1972 but never saw Bush there. "It would be impossible to be unseen in a unit of that size," Mintz says in the ad.


Quote:
The records show his last flight was in April 1972, which is consistent with pay records indicating Bush had a lapse of duty between April and October of that year. Bush has said he had permission to go to Alabama in 1972 to work on an unsuccessful Republican Senate campaign. Bush skipped a required medical exam that cost him his pilot's status in August of that year.


Quote:
Bush's 2000 campaign suggested the future president skipped his medical exam in part because the F-102A was nearly obsolete. Records show Bush's Texas unit flew the F-102A until 1974 and used the jets as part of an air defense drill during 1972.


Quote:
It showed the unit joined a "24-hour active alert mission to safeguard against surprise attack" in the southern United States beginning on Oct. 6, 1972, a mission for which Bush was not present, according to his pay records.


One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Reminder: Bob Barnes on 60 Minutes II tonight talking about getting W into the TANG as a political favor.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:06 am 
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Excavating Bush's Past
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8208-2004Sep9.html

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 9, 2004; 8:51 AM

The stuff is really hitting the fan now.

You can work all day and all night and not keep up with it.

After a month of media digging and regurgitation of who did what to whom on the Bay Hap River in 1969, we are now deep into what George Bush did or didn't do as a younger man.

On one front: Taking a page from the swifties, a group called Texans for Truth is airing a spot questioning Bush's National Guard service. But in a conference call, the former Alabama guardsman who appears in the ad, Bob Mintz, was less than convincing about how he could be sure that W. had not shown up over the course of a year. Mintz said he reported for duty only 60 to 80 days a year and did not have the exact dates. The buy is tiny -- $110,000 in five states -- but then the original swift boat ad cost less than half a million to air in three states.

Nick Kristof nevertheless gives Mintz a nice ride in his NYT column, concluding that the prez's spotty guard service "should disqualify the Bush campaign from sliming the military service of a rival who still carries shrapnel from Vietnam in his thigh."

The Dems are thrilled. "We know that John Kerry was in Vietnam," party chairman Terry McAuliffe told reporters. "My question, Mr. President, is where were you, sir?"

On a second front: "60 Minutes" last night interviewed Ben Barnes, a former Texas lieutenant governor, who says he got young Bush into the Guard and deeply regrets it. Barnes said he acted at the request of a now-dead oilman who was a friend of Bush's congressman dad.

Dan Rather's team got some 1972 memos said to be from the squadron commander, Col. Jerry Killian, who wrote that Lt. Bush had asked "how he can get out of coming to drill from now through November." Bush was "working on a campaign in Alabama and may not have time to take his physical," and Killian thinks Bush has been "talking to someone upstairs."

In an interesting twist, White House communications chief Dan Bartlett was defending the president on Fox at the same moment he was shown defending the president on CBS. Ralph Nader then came on O'Reilly and called Bush a "chicken hawk." Harsh stuff.

This comes on the heels of the Boston Globe and AP stories questioning Bush's Guard service, which I cited in yesterday's column. Jim Jordan of the Media Fund, Kerry's former campaign manager, e-blasted the Globe story around with the headline "Proven: Bush DID Go AWOL."

Kerry, says a campaign e-mail, will address the National Guard Association in Las Vegas next week. "We look forward to hosting Senator Kerry and a speech certain to put current National Guard issues under the spotlight of the presidential campaign," said retired Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Koper, NGAUS president. Hmmm.

Front three: Bob Dole has called a D.C. news conference for today, with producer Carlton Sherwood and former prisoners of war about the documentary, "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," dealing with Kerry's anti-Vietnam War statements, followed by a screening.

Front four: Kitty Kelley. Her forthcoming book deals not so much with the National Guard as with drug allegations involving the president's past. Sharon Bush's lawyer called me yesterday and said she flatly denies making such allegations to Kelley and has no information on the subject. You can read my report here.

Do voters care about all this? I cling to the belief that most are far more interested in the next four years than digging up long-ago dirt. But Bush partisans who reveled in every twist and turn of the swift boat controversy are hardly in a position to argue that the president's past life should be strictly off limits.

If the media spend too long wallowing in all this, though, they risk trivializing the election.

The Guard business is big news everywhere, including the New York Times:

"Vietnam-era service in the National Guard came under renewed scrutiny on Wednesday as newfound documents emerged from his squadron commander's file that suggested favorable treatment.

"At the same time, a once powerful Texas Democrat came forward to say that he had 'abused my position of power' by helping Mr. Bush and others join the Guard.

"Democrats also worked to stoke the issue with a new advertisement by a Texas group that featured a former lieutenant colonel, Bob Mintz, who said he never saw Mr. Bush in the period he transferred from the Texas Air National Guard to the Alabama Air National Guard."

The Boston Globe focuses on other wording in the colonel's files:

"In August 1973, President Bush's superior officer in the Texas Air National Guard wrote a memorandum complaining that the commanding general wanted him to 'sugar coat' an annual officer evaluation for First Lieutenant Bush, even though Bush had not been at the base for the year in question, according to new documents obtained and broadcast last night by CBS News.

"The commander, the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian, wrote that he turned aside the suggestion from Brigadier General Walter B. Staudt, Bush's political mentor in the Guard. But he and another officer agreed to 'backdate' a report -- evidently the evaluation -- in which they did not rate him at all. There is such a report in Bush's file, dated May 2, 1973."

It's official: Kerry is now against the war, or at least Bush's War:

"Sen. John F. Kerry escalated his attacks Wednesday on President Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, saying it cost $200 billion that America needs for schools, healthcare and other domestic needs," reports the

Los Angeles Times. "Speaking at the Cincinnati museum where Bush laid out his rationale for the war nearly two years ago, Kerry said the president's 'wrong choices' on Iraq had 'left America without the resources we need so desperately here at home. . . .'

"Kerry's speech Wednesday also seemed aimed at regaining the offensive on Iraq after facing scathing attacks from Bush and his allies over what they portrayed as the Democrat's shifting positions on the war. The charge of inconsistency on Iraq is at the core of Bush's broader argument that Kerry lacks strong principles, waffles on key issues and cannot be trusted to lead the country."

For you state-by-state poll addicts, here's USA Today:

"President Bush holds clear leads over Sen. John Kerry in the battlegrounds of Missouri and Ohio -- states the president probably needs to hold to win re-election -- according to USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Polls.

"Kerry is ahead in Washington state and tied with Bush in Pennsylvania, swing states that are similarly important to Democratic chances for victory."

Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol says Kerry has now taken an antiwar stance:

"It does seem that Kerry has finally come down, this week, on one side of a debate that really does have only two sides. He has decided he's against the war in Iraq. It was 'the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.'

"Fine. Now we have a clear choice in the presidential election. Bush went to war to remove Saddam. Kerry, it now appears, would not have. This means the choice is between the world we have now, and a world with Saddam still in power. For the meaning of saying we fought the wrong war at the wrong time, is that we would have been better off leaving Saddam in power. If John Kerry were president, Saddam would still be in power.

"So Kerry has to answer this question: Would we be safer with Saddam still in power? Would the world? What would such a world look like? Surely we couldn't have left 150,000 troops in the nations bordering Iraq for two years. Surely, then, the inspectors would once again have been expelled. And the sanctions regime was collapsing. Does Kerry then believe Saddam would not have moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction? Would that have been acceptable?

"Does Kerry believe pro-American, anti-terror forces in the Middle East, to say nothing of the forces of reform in that region, would be stronger or weaker if Saddam were still in power? What would have been the global effect on American credibility if we had authorized the president to use force, as Kerry voted to do, and then backed off? And what would a Kerry administration do now? How could a President Kerry ask any young American to be the last one to die for a mistake?"

For those not paying attention, that's a paraphrase of Kerry, circa 1971.

Andrew Sullivan says the media have missed a fundamental Democratic shift:

"One other thing has troubled me, after mulling the NYC convention for a few days. It struck me that John Kerry at his convention did something politically shrewd but also historically significant. He took a reluctant Democratic base and emphatically backed the war on terror. Yes, he did not relinquish criticism of the war in Iraq, nor of the way in which the Bush administration had made the case for war. But it was not a left-wing convention, and it signaled a welcome shift among Democrats to a more war-oriented approach.

"The Republicans essentially responded by throwing back this concession in John Kerry's face. They refused to take 'yes, but' for an answer, and dredged up the divisions of the Vietnam War as a means to further polarize the electorate. Again, this might be good politics, but it is surely bad for the country. I believe in this war, which is also why I believe it is important to get as many Democrats to support it.

"But the Republicans have all but declared that this is a Republican war - and can only be conducted by a Republican president. I think they will live to regret this almost as much as the country will. And I fear the animosity and division that are already part of the cultural fabric (by no means all fomented by the president) could get worse in the coming years - to the glee of our enemies."

National Review Editor Rich Lowry comes up with a novel tactic: hitting a candidate for what he hasn't said yet:

"'He wants to take away your Social Security.' John Kerry hasn't uttered these words about President Bush yet -- but he will as his campaign inevitably sinks to the lowest common denominator of Democratic demagoguery."

I guess that's the art of preemption.

"Bush has made himself more vulnerable to the charge than the average Republican by endorsing Social Security reform in his acceptance speech at the GOP convention. Bush thus demonstrated his willingness to confront the Democratic equivalent of the Brezhnev Doctrine when it comes to entitlements -- once established, entitlements never recede, but only grow larger. Bush dares to imagine something other than a 70-year-old New Deal model for dealing with retirement. If he can create a mandate for something new, his second term could be as consequential domestically as his first term was abroad.

"The current Social Security system is on its way to becoming the WorldCom of entitlements. The Social Security Trustees estimate the program will begin running a deficit in 2018. The red ink will amount to $16 billion that year and will climb every subsequent year. Cato Institute analyst Michael Tanner estimates the program's shortfall from 2018 going forward at $26 trillion. Washington, we have a problem. Within the constraints of the status quo, there are only two solutions: cut benefits (which Kerry, of course, rules out) or hike taxes (which everyone rules out, right up until the point the taxes are hiked)."

Lowry's right about that -- and nobody much wants to talk about it.

JFK isn't finished yet, says the New Republic's Noam Scheiber, who offers some advice:

"The one thing the polls have consistently shown for months is that more Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction than think it's headed in the right direction. John Kerry still has a shot at winning the election if he can focus relentlessly on this theme. . . .

"Depending on the poll, a slight majority of voters may think invading Iraq was the right decision. But polling questions that get at the execution of the war, like the president's approval rating on Iraq, or whether the war made us safer, suggest at least a plurality thinks the execution was pretty seriously botched. (And note that the two polls I'm citing were conducted during the Republican convention, when the president's numbers should have been most inflated.)

"UPDATE: Just an example of what I mean by 'focus relentlessly' -- every question Kerry gets at the upcoming presidential debates should begin with the following construction: 'Look, it's pretty simple. If you're happy with what my opponent has done on [health care, the economy, Iraq, the environment, corporate accountability, etc., vote for him. If you're not happy about it, here's what I'm proposing. . . . ' The only way Kerry wins is if he conditions voters to think in these terms between now and the election."

That's the zillion-dollar question.

Slate's Mickey Kaus offers Kerry contrarian advice:

"I dissent from the latest campaign CW that Kerry must talk about the economy, health care, etc. for the next two months rather than Iraq and the War on Terror -- and that every day spent talking about Iraq and terror is somehow a bad day for him.

"1) The issues of Iraq and the WOT are intellectually unavoidable. They're the most important things at stake in the election; 2) Because they are intellectual unavoidable, trying to avoid them to focus on the economy calls Kerry's judgment into question; 3)They're going to come up anyway, as they did yesterday; 4) The economy's not in such bad shape -- by which I mean not that the statistics are OK, but that the ordinary lives of Americans aren't in such bad shape, despite the wishfully downbeat reporting of a cocooning anti-Bush press;

"5) Whatever shape the economy is in, it's something the voters know about. Kerry can't convince them the economy is better than they know it is or worse than they know it is. But the argument against Bush's terror strategy is one that they might not have heard. . . .

"P.S.: I agree Kerry should also talk about health care, stem cells, etc.. I just don't see where -- barring some Iraq disaster that makes the case for him -- he avoids a frontal assault on Bush's terror strategy. If you agree with Bush on terror, are you really going to vote for Kerry in order to reduce your Medicare bill?"

Finally, a fascinating New Yorker piece by David Remnick on Al Gore's life in Tennessee and what it's like to have come so close to winning the White House. Gore offers this criticism of Bush:

"I think his weakness is a moral weakness. I think he is a bully, and, like all bullies, he's a coward when confronted with a force that he's fearful of. His reaction to the extravagant and unbelievably selfish wish list of the wealthy interest groups that put him in the White House is obsequious. The degree of obsequiousness that is involved in saying 'yes, yes, yes, yes, yes' to whatever these people want, no matter the damage and harm done to the nation as a whole -- that can come only from genuine moral cowardice. I don't see any other explanation for it, because it's not a question of principle. The only common denominator is each of the groups has a lot of money that they're willing to put in service to his political fortunes and their ferocious and unyielding pursuit of public policies that benefit them at the expense of the nation."

Gore also talks about how Kerry considered challenging him in 2000.

I especially liked the moment when Gore, after having given a local speech, Googles himself and finds a small AP story and announces that he has "committed news."

Says Gore: "As a general rule, where news is concerned, if you are the president you have a traveling press corps, and if you are the Party's nominee you do, too. But with those two exceptions, outside of the Scott Peterson trial, nothing -- a speech, a proposal, something in the democratic discourse -- nothing will be national news unless it occurs within a ten-minute cab ride of downtown Manhattan or downtown Washington, D.C. Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis? They don't exist."

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:24 am 
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Washington Post wrote:
Do voters care about all this? I cling to the belief that most are far more interested in the next four years than digging up long-ago dirt. But Bush partisans who reveled in every twist and turn of the swift boat controversy are hardly in a position to argue that the president's past life should be strictly off limits.


Bingo.

Quote:
If the media spend too long wallowing in all this, though, they risk trivializing the election.


I think we're *long* past that point.

Quote:
"So Kerry has to answer this question: Would we be safer with Saddam still in power? Would the world?


Yes.

Quote:
Surely we couldn't have left 150,000 troops in the nations bordering Iraq for two years. Surely, then, the inspectors would once again have been expelled.


Again? There was a first time?

Quote:
Does Kerry then believe Saddam would not have moved to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction? Would that have been acceptable?


What have we found to "reconstitute"?

Quote:
What would have been the global effect on American credibility if we had authorized the president to use force, as Kerry voted to do, and then backed off?


Umm...we'd actually have credibility?

Quote:
But it was not a left-wing convention, and it signaled a welcome shift among Democrats to a more war-oriented approach.


Welcome?

Quote:
"'He wants to take away your Social Security.' John Kerry hasn't uttered these words about President Bush yet -- but he will as his campaign inevitably sinks to the lowest common denominator of Democratic demagoguery."


That's pretty funny.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:28 am 
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Matt wrote:
"I actually did vote for his $87 billion, before I voted against it." - Senator John Kerry


I still fail to see exactly what is so "funny" about this.

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