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September 09, 2004

What "60 Minutes" DIDN'T Say about Bush's Time in the National Guard

I wrote the following at the request of Alternet, which distributed it this morning:

The September 8 “60 Minutes” segment on the controversy over how George Bush
got a coveted slot in the Texas National Guard’s “Champagne Unit,” and what
he did during his time in uniform, took those of us old enough to remember
back in time to 1972.

It was a time when the country was already sharply divided. Nearly half of
Americans had already concluded that the war in Vietnam was dirty, immoral,
and a hopeless quagmire. It was four years after the CBS news anchor called
“the most trusted man in America,” Walter Cronkite, had used his broadcast
to tell the country that the war could not be won--a declaration that helped
drive war president Lyndon Johnson to his decision not to seek another term
as a result of the war’s unpopularity.

And it was a time when a large number of draft-age males were gaming the
system to avoid being sent to Vietnam if they could. Bill Clinton was one.
Bush fils was another. While college deferments saved many of those who
could afford a university education from going, the sons of the working
class and the poor were being shipped to the killing fields to decimate a
country that had never done us harm--as Muhammad Ali famously put it in
refusing induction, “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.” Many of those
draftees came home in body bags. Schemers like Clinton and the sons of
privilege like Bush avoided those plasticized tombs.

It has been a matter of record for years, after his court testimony on the
subject, that Ben Barnes was the enabler of Bush’s escape from Vietnam.
State legislatures have long been sewers of corruption, and none more so
than the Texas legislature of which Barnes was the speaker. An ambitious,
equal-opportunity suckup and a poster-boy for Texas sleaze, by his own
admission Speaker Barnes helped not just Bush but the offspring of
influential fat-cats and politicians from both major parties to find safe
refuge from Vietnam in that Texas Guard unit where, as we proles would say,
no heavy lifting was required.

On “60 Minutes,” Barnes--he of the checkered and scandal-plagued political
career--allowed as how he is now “ashamed” of what he did, of the way he
misused the power of “determining life and death” in his hands. Is his
remorse genuine? Or is it an attempt by Barnes--now a corporate lobbyist and
influence-buyer who is still working both sides of the street, and who has
bundled over $100,000 in fat-cat contributions to the Kerry campaign--to
cloak his televised “confession” in noble terms? I’m sure I’m not the only
Baby Boomer with a memory of that bloody era who finds a creature like
Barnes repulsive, and his mea culpa an attempt to curry favor with a future
Kerry presidency (he agreed to the “60 Minutes” interview before Kerry’s
meltdown in the polls).

What was really new and interesting in the CBS broadcast were the
revelations of four hitherto-unpublished documents from Bush’s squadron
commander, the late Col. Jerry Killian, revealing that Bush disobeyed a
direct order to take a physical examination, and tried to sweet-talk Killian
into finding a way for him to “get out of coming to drill from now through
November“ because “he may not have time“. Then there’s the Killian memo
revealing he’s being pressured by higher-ups to sugar-coat his review of
Bush’s absenteeism, a memo entitled “CYA,” which--CBS was too prudish to
tell us this--is the military abbreviation for “Cover Your Ass.” CBS also
failed to mention that young Bush’s father was Richard Nixon’s UN Ambassador
at the time.

Just what was Lt. Bush doing during those long months he shirked his duties
and ducked orders? He was serving his political apprenticeship as the
political director for the U.S. Senate campaign of Winton “Red” Blount, the
wealthy head of an engineering and construction firm who was president of
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before being appointed Nixon’s Postmaster
General (where he promptly fired some 33,000 employees as the postal service
was put on for-profit basis). Blount was running against veteran Senator
John Sparkman, a conservative Southern Democrat who had been Adlai Stevenson
’s running mate on the national ticket in 1952.

Blount ran a filthy, race-baiting campaign against Sparkman, focused in part
on the issue of busing to achieve school integration. Even though Sparkman
had co-sponsored the "anti-forced busing" bill in the Senate, the Blount
campaign covered the state with billboards proclaiming, “A vote for Red
Blount is a vote against forced busing…against coddling criminals…against
welfare freeloaders.”

Blount was also a ferocious supporter of the Vietnam war (which Lt. Bush’s
daddy was vigorously defending at the UN), and young Bush was in charge of
distributing the smear campaign literature that linked the conservative
Sparkman (whom Blount labeled a “liberal”--sound familiar?) to the head of
the Democrats’ national ticket that year, the anti-war George McGovern. The
smear pamphlets accused Sparkman of favoring drastic cuts in the military
budget, of abandoning American POWs in Vietnam, and of supporting “amnesty
for draft-dodgers” -- none of which, of course, was true.

So, while Lt. Bush was avoiding Vietnam through cushy service in the
National Guard, then not even fulfilling the duties which his uniform
obliged him to perform, and while his commandant was getting pressure from
“higher-ups” in the Nixon administration’s military machine to let him off
the hook, Bush was learning how to run a pro-war, dirty tricks, mud-slinging
campaign. If “60 Minutes” had bothered to tell us what Lt. Bush was doing
while he was dodging his military commitments--namely, serving a political
apprenticeship in sewer politics that included tarring an opponent with
sympathy for those who didn’t want to go to Vietnam--the odiferous hypocrisy
of Bush’s time in the Guard would have been startlingly apparent.

The “soft-on-terrorism” charges against this year’s national Democratic
ticket which were trumpeted at President Bush’s Madison Square Garden
coronation at the end of August echo the smears of the 1972 Senate campaign
on which Bush cut his political eye-teeth. It was mendacious deceit that
Bush practiced 32 years ago--as it is today. And that is the real meaning of
Bush’s time in the National Guard.
For more on Bush and the '72 Alabama campaign, see the thorough article by Glynn Wilson, "George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama," in the February 2, 2004 Southerner Daily News.

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Comments

Don't know who Jack Landsman is, but he is full of it. The link is not gone:

http://www.southerner.net/blog/awolbush.html

And the publication date is Feb. 2, 2004. Kelly's book didn't come out until Sept. 14, 2004, so how could I have possibly copied it? This is libel and I'm saving for possible action.

Posted by: Glynn Wilson | Feb 28, 2005 2:52:21 PM

Don't know who Jack Landsman is, but he is full of it. The link is not gone:

http://www.southerner.net/blog/awolbush.html

And the publication date is Feb. 2, 2004. Kelly's book didn't come out until Sept. 14, 2004, so how could I have possibly copied it? This is libel and I'm saving for possible action.

Posted by: Glynn Wilson | Feb 28, 2005 2:47:25 PM

Don't know who Jack Landsman is, but he is full of it. The link is not gone:

http://www.southerner.net/blog/awolbush.html

And the publication date is Feb. 2, 2004. Kelly's book didn't come out until Sept. 14, 2004, so how could I have possibly copied it? This is libel and I'm saving for possible action.

Posted by: Glynn Wilson | Feb 28, 2005 2:47:04 PM

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