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August 31, 2004


In Alterman's scheme, it was dishonorable for Bill to avoid the draft and not fight against the war he opposed; worse for Bush and Cheney to avoid combat in a war they supported. This seems reasonable to me I guess from my early Gen-Xer perspective, and I don't know that Bill would disagree. Saying Bush betrayed his country by using family connections to get into the Guard and slacking off there - that's an egregious misuse of "betrayal".

Thank God George Bush is our President.

Why does God hate America?

The context may be that Clinton as a draft dodger never encouraged or tolerated an attack on Dole's military career. Or Bush I's if I remember correctly.

Also, as pointed out above, Bush supposedly "supported" they war. Clinton protested against it.

There are a couple easy explanations here. First, Mary Anne Marsh simply used overheated, overblown rhetoric on a shout show. This is hardly an uncommon phenomenon, if not very honorable, and not that terrible by shout show standards. Hell, in routine American discourse it's perfectly acceptable to imply that gays are a lower form of life. What's less common is the Dennis Hastert example (accusing without evidence that a financier and political opponent is connected to drug cartels).

Second, Clinton already addressed his draft-dodging within the context of Bush's draft-dodging in his convention speech. His stance there was, "I did a bad thing, just like Cheney and Bush did - as opposed to John Kerry who, you may have noticed, is a war hero!" I'll note that I think this is bunk. If there was any war you got a free pass to dodge, it was Vietnam, and the most reprehensible thing about SBVFT is their insane, delusional attempt to rehabilitate America's worst war by dragging it - and the reputation of a long line of soldiers - through the mud.

Third, while I know you don't like the "chickenhawk" charge, Moe, there's something to its more strict definition* - that is, that someone who actively supports a war while actively avoiding fighting in that war is a bit of a hypocrite. In this sense, George Bush certainly did not "betray his country," although if indeed he was a true supporter of that war, he certainly betrayed his political ideals. From what we know of the early 70s-era Bush, though, I somehow think the Vietnam-support thing is a bit of a pose.

I myself have no problem with folks who supported Vietnam ducking out of it - all that means is that on some gut level, they recognized it was a crap war. What drives me nuts is the attempt decades later to paint Vietnam as a stab-in-the-back act by the same men who ducked it. If you didn't want to win that war yourself, you couldn't have thought it was very winnable, could you? And if it wasn't winnable, why do you continue to imply that the press, the protestors, and the public somehow "lost" the Vietnam War?


As I note this is cross-posted to my favorite den of Collaborative Republicanism, I'll note that I'm still waiting to see a Redstate post taking the Swiftvets to task for, y'know, lying over and over again about John Kerry's war record. Maybe it was there and I missed it, buried under all the posts about how John Kerry will run away from Iraq, making America the Neville Chamberlain of terror.


*as opposed to the loose definition whereby one cannot honestly show support for any war without having served in a war.

Carsick, Bush actually did countenance an attack on Bush I's character. Sid Blumenthal carried water for the "Bush bailed early" smear in '92 - in the New Republic, I believe - and that story was never denounced by Clinton. It was Dukakis in '88 who denounced it and commended Bush's war record. The story didn't get too much traction, but it was there, and Bill let it lay there. He was fine with dirty pool.

Sorry - that should obviously be "Clinton did countenance." I'm gonna get off the internet and get some coffee now.

One article? And it wasn't picked up by a PAC and played in battleground states? And it gained no traction?
How dare Clinton not draw attention to a single article in a magazine with a distribution of less than 300,000 (if not less than 150,000 in 1992!).

OOps. Turns out Blumenthal reported on one accusation in the midst of an article. He did not make the allegation nor was it the focus of the article.

Hmmm. And I wonder why Clinton didn't denounce the article.

Carsick -
I'm not saying there was an equivalence as to the orchestration of the smear, its prominence, or its relevance in the election cycle. The Bush-41 smear was a blip unnoticed by most of the media; the Kerry smear has lasted through all of August and changed the face of the entire campaign. The Bush-41 smear was one article; the Kerry smear has been a massively promoted and well-financed campaign which has successfully saturated a compliant media with outright fabrications. But simply restricting it to the level of whether Bill Clinton was willing to countenance an unjustified attack on his opponent's war record - well, he was.

Again, there's ultimately not a substantive equivalence between the two actions. Clinton apparatchiks didn't pony up millions to give the story legs; ad blitzes in swing states sliming George H. W.'s service didn't happen; there were no World War II Pilots For Truth. But for the record, that story was there in '92 - resurfacing from the '88 campaign. Dukakis chose to denounce it; Clinton chose not to.

Blumenthal's article came to this conclusion:
"What we do know, in the end, is that terrible things happen in wartime; that the young Bush was consumed with doubt and pain; that the older Bush has presented a simple, unambiguous, but contradicting, story; and that he has directed his campaign to project onto Clinton's youthful grapplings with a very different war the harsh image of the evader."

The conclusions of the swifters misleading statements? Unfit for Command.

What exactly from the article was Clinton supposed to denounce?

By the way, it was Ted Sampley (SBVT's very own) who orchestrated the attack on George H.W. Bush.


I'm aware of the Sampley connection - which is all the more reason for Republicans to take a look at the actual facts behind the Swiftvets story instead of just skimming Instapundit posts.

The allegation in Blumenthal's article - actually carried on from the earlier Sampley smear in '88 - was that George Bush bailed early in WWII, causing the deaths of two of his crewmates. The article also contained the line, "I know two people who wished George Bush dodged the draft." It was an ugly, below-the-belt attack - and also a fairly unsubstantiated one, not backed up by military records. Sound familiar?

Carsick, to make my point a little clearer, from Blumenthal's piece:

What really happened at Chichi Jima will never finally be resolved. Were the men really dead when Bush jumped? Did one man parachute out? Why did the intelligence report say one thing and the Finback log another? And why have Bush's versions changed over time? Bush's experience in the Good War was more tortured and his accounts more tortuous than he now admits.

"I don't want to think about it," said Chester Mierzejewski. "I don't want to get involved politically." Still, he sees the attacks on Clinton as cynical in the light of what he has come to believe about the event of long ago. "I knew two guys who would be glad if George Bush had been a draft-dodger," he told me.

This is the same kind of rumor-mongering, couldabeen, who-knows style of journalism that's allowed the Swiftvet smear to metastasize. "The official, estalished record says one thing. But other people say something else! And Bush/Kerry's memories have changed over the last several decades! Well, gee, I guess we'll never know, and Bush/Kerry's war service is now covered over with a Vast Cloud Of Doubt!"

This is, to say the least, highly dubious thinking. Again: there is no equivalence in magnitude, which seems to be your objection. But there was, in fact, an attempt to smear Bush-41's war record, and let's not make claims to the contrary.

But Blumenthat's article DID include the official record as well as the remembrances of others who had a differing account from the man who wanted Bush to have dodged the draft. It was an article examining the accussation. It was not an accussation itself.

From the upcoming Newsweek:
"Sept. 6 issue - Shortly before the 1992 election, a World War II veteran approached NEWSWEEK and other major media outlets with an unsubstantiated story about how he said he saw President George H.W. Bush strafing unarmed Japanese fishermen in the Pacific when both men were young Navy fliers. None of us published or broadcast the explosive allegations until after the election, and if we had, Bill Clinton's campaign indicated it would have denounced them. The same thing happened in 2000, when a book called "Fortunate Son" alleged youthful illegal activities by George W. Bush. No one from Al Gore's campaign would touch the story until later, and the book was withdrawn by the publisher."

What's the equivalency?
Clinton's campaign nor his friends orchestrated the Bush bailing accusation.
Nor did his campaign nor his friends fund the exploitation of accusations.

That should read:
"NEITHER Clinton's campaign nor his friends..."


I am not arguing for an equivalency. I have said that over and over and over again. You're being quite obstinate about ignoring it.

What I'm correcting is your statement here:

...Clinton as a draft dodger never encouraged or tolerated an attack on Dole's military career. Or Bush I's if I remember correctly.

Sid Blumenthal's article took a four-year-old smear piece and put it on a level with the official record. Yes, he reported them both - and he gave them an equivalency which did not exist. This is the core issue in media coverage of the Swiftvets: that the overwhelming evidence stands in favor of Kerry's version of the events - which is in fact the OFFICIAL version of the events and has been for thirty-five years - but scurrilous, unfounded, counterfactual claims to the contrary are presented with equal weight. Blumenthal in fact goes out of his way to note this, saying essentially "No one can tell what's the real story here - the official record, or this story which never surfaced for forty years."

Since the piece raises the questioning of Bush's war record explicitly in the context of (1) the Bush-Clinton campaign and (2) attacks on Clinton as a draft-dodger, the meme the piece attempts to forward is an obvious advantage to Clinton, chipping away at a vulnerability (the draft-dodger/war hero disparity). Clinton said nothing about this, whereas Dukakis, saddled with the image of appearing "weak" in '88, went out of his way to condemn such an attack. Clinton said nothing. Thus, your statement that Clinton never tolerated an attack on Bush-42's record isn't, in fact, correct.

Since I suspect that neither of us actually disagree on this and you're splitting nonexistent hairs, I'm quitting this debate, which is giving me a headache.

I believe you are stating there is no equivalence in magnitude. I'm saying there is no equivalence at all unless you want to show me where Bush came out against the Kerry/Intern articles discussing both sides of the "news".
The SBVT story came to the front because they had a book and were releasing ads. The information, such as it was, was uncontested in those venues and only after a few news cycles did the media begin to counter the accusations. The book and ads were an orchestrated attack from the get-go.
Blumenthal's piece was acknowledging an allegation that even you admit was already "out there" and was pointing out the other available views of the same events. Coming to the conclusion that there will be no definitive answer is only pointing out the obvious for an episode observed by few in the midst of a war nearly 50 years before.
Was there an attempt to smear Bush by another vet? Yes. Was it by Blumenthal? I don't think so. Did it raise to the level of a candidate needing to dismiss it? I see no evidence that it did.

(Perhaps Dukakis came out against a minor news story to gain moral highground as the Right was going negative by alluding he had been treated for clinical depression ... "President Reagan brought national attention to the rumor when he joked at a press conference that, "I am not going to pick on an invalid," when asked his opinion about Mr. Dukakis' refusal to release his medical records".)

Splitting hairs perhaps.

in the midst of a war nearly 50 years before

Kerry was in Korea?


I believe G.H.W.Bush was a decorated veteran of something called World War II.
The article we have been discussing is about aspersions cast on Bush's actions in 1943 or 1944. The article came out in 1992. I'd say that's nearly 50 years ago from the date of the article.

The question is whether Bush betrayed his country during Viet Nam when he went AWOL in the Guard.

I wonder what the SB folks would think if Kerry had gone AWOL while stationed in Viet Nam.

theCoach: The question is whether Bush betrayed his country during Viet Nam when he went AWOL in the Guard.

Actually, that seems like a different question than the one posed above, which only deals with his lack of in-country service.

I don't think I'd agree that Bush the Lesser "betrayed his country" by malingering and AWOL-ing during his on-again, off-again TANG duty. He wasn't doing anything essential, esp. once he refused to take the physical and got booted off the flight roster. How could he betray what he wasn't serving in the first place?

"Dereliction of duty" sounds more accurate.

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