Monday, February 09, 2004

OK, based on the ongoing debate in the comments section of Drum's post, here's what I think happened during Bush's National Guard stint (theory subject to revision at the drop of a hat):

1) Bush's name gets him an undeserved placement in the Texas Air National Guard, in the so-called "Champagne Unit."

2) After a few years, he gets bored playing fighter pilot (note his bizarre request for a tour in Vietnam, even though he wasn't qualified) and heads off to Alabama to join family friend William Blount's election campaign.

3) After he leaves a transfer to a non-flying unit is prepared for him; the Guard decides that's a stupid waste of his training though, and rejects the transfer. Bush stays in Alabama anyway.

4) He misses his physical, and is grounded. The whys and hows are a complete mystery.

5) He gets a three-month transfer to a different Alabama base, and as the (failed) Blount campaign winds down he gets bored again. He may or may not have actually reported to his new unit at this time, but does get credited with some points towards retirement.

6) His transfer expires. He may or not have reported back to his Houston unit, but he continues to be credited with points towards retirement anyway.

7) He applies for an early discharge, and the Guard is all too happy to get rid of him. Since he doesn't have the necessary 'good years' though, they tack on an extra six months to his stint. He may or not not do any drills, but he continues to be credited with the remaining necessary points.

Was Bush AWOL? There's a better case for that than there was for Clinton being a draft dodger.

Did Bush take his duties as a member of the National Guard seriously? Not at all.

Really, if you view the young Bushie through a Freudian lens (constant rebelling against his father etc., culminating in the Dec. '72 fight) this all seems very consistent. Daddy got him a cushy gig in the Guard, so he rebelled by first trying to go to Vietnam, then in blowing off his duties completely.

And if he skipped the physical because he didn't want to risk getting randomly tested, it makes even more sense. That's an unproven assertion of course, but there is certainly tenuous circumstantial evidence pointing to it, not least of which is Bush's own curious refusal to say whether he was clean before 1974.

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