George Bush’s decision to use an entire carrier battle group as a campaign prop — and his staff’s decision to lie about it — seems to be attracting some flack: not merely from such obvious sources as Tapped, but from Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan as well.
One obvious point I haven’t seen anyone make: Bush wasn’t trained to fly Navy aircraft, so we need to hope that his claim to have been “flying” the plane was largely hyperbolic. Moreover, unless the co-pilot is strictly decorative, sending the plane up with Bush in the second seat took a small, but entirely needless, risk.
But the most astonishing feature of the whole affair is that no one that I’ve seen — and certainly not the allegedly liberal New York Times, either in its news story or its editorial — mentioned the fact that Bush’s previous spell of military flying ended with his going AWOL. Can you imagine all the “draft-dodger” remarks we would have heard if Clinton had pulled a similar stunt?
And they wouldn’t have come only from his political opponents or from columnists, either; news reporters would have written leads reading “President Bill Clinton, whose successful attempt to avoid service in Vietnam has dogged his political career today flew co-pilot…” Bush’s Teflon coating seems to be even thicker than Reagan’s.
Update Paul Krugman stepped up to the plate on this; why hasn’t John Kerry?