I’ve never figured out why the Democrats and the national press gave George W. Bush a pass on his — well, let’s just call it lack of the appropriate work ethic — while he was sitting out the Vietnam War in the Texas Air National Guard. That issue will be much less potent now than it would have been then, simply because Bush is so much better-known a figure.
[Had he retained the high personal popularity he enjoyed before the dirty campaign of 2002, it might not have worked at all: the voters simply wouldn’t have believed it, any more than they would believe the facts about the relationships between the Bushes, the Royal House of Saudi Arabia, and the bin Ladens. (No one has yet explained why all the bin Ladens in the U.S. were suddenly whisked away right after 9-11, before the FBI had a chance to talk to them.) Sometimes the truth is just to weird to be believed, in which case it generally isn’t believed.]
Still, the AWOL issue isn’t chopped liver, especially given Bush’s refusal to release the separation codes on his discharge papers. And it looks as if — four years too late to spare us the first Bush II administration but perhaps not too late to spare us a second — the Democrats are finally waking up. Here’s Terry McAuliffe; here’s John Kerry; here’s Eleanor Clift; and here’s the Washington Post news story that could have defeated Bush had it run in 2000. Even Robert Novak is piling on. (I wonder whether Novak really doesn’t understand what “pucker factor” means, or just decided to clean it up for a family newspaper.)
The least this means is that any White House attempt to run against Jane Fonda in November won’t go unanswered.
Update Phil Carter has more, and, as one would have expected from Phil, comes up with an idea not so far mentioned. If Bush served, he would have been paid. That would have generated pay records, bank deposits, and income tax filings. Will he release his 1040s for the years in question?
As Phil notes, GWB is still keeping the separation codes of his discharge papers private. Bush perfectly within his legal rights in doing so, of course, but the press is within its rights to ask for those documents and to draw inferences if they continue to be withheld. Will someone ask this question of Scott McClellan?