1. A pair of awful performances, but Bush’s was even worse than Russert’s. Russert threw nothing but softballs, and Bush struck out. Even the NRO crew seems to think that their guy stank up the joint.
2. All of us who were making up questions for Russert to ask blew it. Reading the transcript, it’s obvious that the right follow-up to Bush’s claim that he served in Alabama would have been “What did you do, and who was your immediate superior? Who served with you?” It would have been a true deer-in-the-headlights moment.
3. Bush seemed to promise that he would release all relevant records, though he also falsely claimed that they’d all been released in 2000. If I were a political reporter (and not worried about losing access to Administration sources) I would have a written request on its way tomorrow, asking for (1) Pay records; (2) W-2s and the rest of the President’s Forms 1040 for 1970-73; (3) the full DD-214, including the separation codes.
4. Kevin Drum has an analysis of the “torn document” suggesting that Bush was given a punitive transfer to a paper unit, perhaps as punishment for missing his flight physical. That’s worth following up on.
5. Trying to pretend that the question was about whether Guard service was honorable, rather than about whether Bush served honorably in the Guard, was par for the course. Russert, of course, let him get away with it.
6. Bush is still resting everything on the claim that his honorable discharge clears him. All it proves, of course, is that no one bothered, or dared, to take serious disciplinary action against him.
7. The claims about spending, taxes, and the deficit don’t pass the giggle test. It appears that Bush is so deeply coccooned that he doesn’t know what he can’t (now) get away with.
8. Bush’s citatio of Chalabi as the source of his assurance that Iraq won’t become a fundamentalist state suggests that he doesn’t know, or doesn’t know that anyone else knows, that Chalabi is a con artist whose prewar “intelligence” has been thoroughly discredited. Now that’s scary.
Update Tim Noah at Slate thinks that Mr. Bush is making a big mistake: Instead of lying to his opponents, an activity at which he is uncommonly skilled and which does him little or no immediate political damage, he’s now lying to his supporters. His only hope now is that they have too little self-respect to care.