Republicans have been riding high on the hog over Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's military-record woes this week, even though it appears the tables have now turned. Seems the NYT's "expose" was more in the vein of thinly disguised hit piece that overplayed a minor verbal misstep.
No one, of course, was more eager to exploit the NYT's story and use it as a chance to bash Democrats than Sean Hannity, who devoted a whole segment to other supposed Democratic "fabrications" of military records. But these, of course, were as similarly fabricated themselves as the Blumenthal hit: the grotesque attacks on John Kerry's military record, as well as Tom Harkin's long-ago, one-time inflation of his record.
That's funny: We here at C&L remember all too well another tale of a concocted military record, created to cover up the sordid reality that the politician in question actually was derelict in his duty and had failed to live up to his military commitment -- a commitment that actually got him out of combat duty.
But then, the case involved George W. Bush and his non-service in the Texas Air National Guard:
The core of the matter is fairly simple, and boils down to two facts that are simply not in dispute:
Bush blew off his physical in the spring of 1972, thereby ignoring a direct order from his superiors.
Bush then definitely performed no drills at all for any unit of the National Guard between early May 1972 and late November 1972 at the earliest. This is a period of nearly seven months.
As I noted early on, Bush's published description of this episode nakedly falsified the facts:
These facts have never been disputed since they were uncovered, and in fact were acknowledged by Bush's spokespeople. Moreover, as Joe Conason has already noted, Bush actually falsified this aspect of his service in his ghost-written autobiography, A Charge to Keep, describing his pilot's training in some detail, then concluding: ''I continued flying with my unit for the next several years." In fact, Bush was suspended from flying 22 months after he completed his training -- a period that does not even generously fit Bush's description.
Moreover, his administrative flacks continued to lie about his dereliction of duty afterward:
"There was no need or reason for him to take a flying exam," Bartlett said, adding that allegations that he ducked the physical were "just outrageously false."
Nonetheless, thanks to the right-wingers' fake "Rathergate" controversy, the truth about Bush's record has been conveniently buried by right-wing hacks like Hannity:
Bush's re-election campaign was predicated on the notion that he is a straight shooter: "You know where I stand," was his signature line at the 2004 GOP convention. What the Texas Air National Guard episode makes clear, beyond any serious doubt, is that the man is lying manipulator -- one willing to falsify (perhaps criminally) the record about not only his own conduct in the military, but also his war-hero opponent's -- and there is no reason any of us should believe a word that comes out of his mouth. We know where he stands, all right: on the side of George W. Bush, and everyone and everything else is fair game.
Most importantly, it revealed that George W. Bush, the man who is demanding American boys and girls and their families continue making the ultimate sacrifice for their country in a failed and fruitless war built on a foundation of false pretenses -- that man was himself unwilling to even live up to his own modest military commitments, none of which involved so much as even placing himself in combat with the enemy. He continues to lie about that fact -- even as he and his Republican cohort assail the patriotism and integrity of anyone who dares stand up to them.