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February 1, 2004: Bush - Not a deserter, maybe just AWOL, if it matters...

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Can a man who is both a bully and skips out of his military duty lead us in a just war against the forces of evil?



Think back to New Hampshire and the primary business up there.  Wesley Clark did not do well.  And one of the problems was with a person who endorsed him.  No, not Madonna.  Michael Moore. 

Here are the basics:

Clark: Bush Guard Duty Not an Issue
David S.  Broder, The Washington Post, Sunday, January 18, 2004; Page A05


PEMBROKE, N.H., Jan.  17 - Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark said Saturday he "has heard" charges that President Bush was a "deserter" from his duties in the Vietnam War-era Air National Guard but said, "I am not going to go into the issues of what George W. Bush did or didn't do in the past."

The term "deserter" was used by documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in introducing Clark to an enthusiastic rally of more than 1,000 people in this Concord suburb Saturday afternoon. 

After noting that Clark had been a champion debater at West Point, Moore told a laughing crowd, "I know what you're thinking.  I want to see that debate between Clark and Bush - the general versus the deserter."

In a news conference after the event, Clark was asked if he had heard those words and if he agreed.  "Well," he said.  "I've heard those charges.  I don't know if they are true or not.  He was never prosecuted for it." But Clark said, "I am delighted with Michael Moore... a man of conscience and courage."

Moore told reporters he was referring to published reports that, as he put it, "Bush left and did not show up for a year" when he transferred from Houston in the Texas Air National Guard to temporary duty at a unit in Alabama. 

Clark said the real issue is to hold Bush "accountable for his performance of duty as commander in chief.  That's what the issue is in this election."

The Boston Globe reported in 2000 that "there is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service as required when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a U.S.  Senate campaign from May to November 1972."


Okay.  Now go back to the election almost four years ago.  By the spring of 2000, it was clear that Bush would be the GOP nominee - and it was clear that there were unanswered questions about his military service. 

The Washington press paid little attention to Bush's "puzzling" record.  Too hot to handle?  Fox News would jump them all?  Folks would get upset and cancel their newspapers?  Who knows? 

Heres Bob Somerby over at The Daily Howler -


We're intrigued by Bush-and-the-National Guard because it's such a brilliant story about the press - a brilliant example of the way the press took a dive for Bush during Campaign 2000.  As of May 23, 2000, it was clear that major questions surrounded Bush's service in the Air National Guard.  And the Bush camp soon gave several explanations for Bush's conduct which turned out to be flatly inaccurate.  But most major news orgs knew what to do; they ignored the story completely. 

What are the actual facts of this case?  ...

1.  Bush lived in Alabama from May 1972 through November 1972.  His two superior officers in Alabama say that he never showed up for duty. 

2.  While in Alabama, Bush failed to take his required annual physical.  As a result, he was formally suspended from duty. 

3.  Bush returned to Houston in November 1972.  Seven months later, on May 2, 1973, his two commanding officers at Houstons Ellingwood air base declined to perform his annual report (covering the year from 5/1/72 through 4/30/73).  Why did they decline to perform his report?  Because, they wrote, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report.  A civilian occupation made it necessary for him to move to Montgomery, Alabama.  He cleared this base on 15 May 1972 and has been performing equivalent training in a non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp, Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama."  Of course, Bush was performing no such duty.  But as of May 2, 1973, his superior officers in Houston still believed that he was.


So what? 

His war is straining the economy and over five hundred of our guys are real dead, and he flaked out on his own war duty?  Perhaps that's the so what.  Perhaps not. 

Well, Wesley Clark took a whole lot of crap for what his endorser, Michael Moore, said, and for saying he didn't know if it was true, or really cared very much, as the present mattered a whole lot more than the past. 

Moore cared:

See You Say Deserter, I Say More Dessert
Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

Talk about getting on your high horse!


I would like to apologize for referring to George W.  Bush as a "deserter."  What I meant to say is that George W.  Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate.  And he poops his pants.  In fact, he shot a man in Tucson "just to watch him die."

Actually, what I meant to say up in New Hampshire last week was that "We're going to have Bush for dessert come November!"  I'm always mixing up "dessert" and "desert" - I'm sure many of you have that problem. 

Well, well, well.  As George W. would say, "It's time to smoke 'em out of their hole!"

... When the press heard me use that word "deserter," though, the bells and whistles went off, for this was one of those stories they knew they had ignored - and now it was rearing its ugly, truthful head on a very public stage.  Without a single other word from me other than the d-word, they immediately got so defensive that it looked to many viewers like they - the press - maybe had something to hide.  After all, when I called Bush a deserter, how did they know I wasn't referring to how he has deserted the 43 million Americans who have no health coverage?  Why didn't they assume I was talking about how Bush is a deserter because he has deserted the working people of this country (who have lost 3 million jobs since he's taken office)?  Why wasn't it obvious to them that I was pointing out how Bush had deserted our constitution and Bill of Rights as he tries to limit freedom of speech and privacy rights for law-abiding citizens? 

Instead, they have created the brouhaha over Bush's military record, often without telling their audience what the exact charges are.  It seems all they want to do is to get Clark or me - or you - to shut up.  "We have never investigated this and so we want you to apologize for bringing it up!"  Ha ha ha. 

Well, I'm glad they have gone nuts over it.  Because here we have a Commander in Chief - who just took off while in uniform to go work for some Republican friend of his dad's - now sending our kids over to Iraq to die while billions are promised to Halliburton and the oil companies.  Twenty percent of them are National Guard and Reserves (and that number is expected to double during the year).  They have been kept in Iraq much longer than promised, and they have not been given the proper protection.  They are sitting ducks. 

What if any of them chose to do what Bush did back in the early 70s - just not show up?  I've seen Republican defenders of Bush this week say, "Yeah, but he made up the time later."  So, can today's National Guardsmen do the same thing - just say, when called up to go to Iraq, "Um, I'm not going to show up, I'll make up the time later!"?  Can you imagine what would happen?  Of course, none of them are the son of a Congressman, like young Lt.  Bush was back in 1972. 


And if you follow the link youll see Moore then reviews all the facts available, in detail. 

He ends with this:


... Well, there you have it.  Someone got some special treatment.  And now that special someone believes he has the right to conduct a war - using other not-so-special people's lives. 

My friends, I always call it like I see it.  I don't pussyfoot around.  Sometimes the truth is hard to take.  The media conglomerates are too afraid to take this on.  I understand.  But I'm not.  That's my job.  And I'll continue to do it. 

And when I'm wrong, like the thing about Bush pooping his pants, I'll say so.


Well, Moore is a self-righteous blustering fool at times. 

But he doesn't worry about his audience share.  So he brings up curious facts. 

Ah, but it is the past.  Clark has the right idea.  Maybe Bush was AWOL or whatever.  The real question is obvious.  Now what?