Friday, February 13, 2004

The White House's strategy with regard to Bush's Guard service is starting to make sense to me.

JMM, as usual, has Scottie Mac's desperate parrying of the latest round of press questions. And in the middle of it, we have the smoking gun:

McClellan -- Again, I mean, the issue that was raised was whether or not the President was serving while he was in Alabama. Documents reflect that he was -- hold on -- that he was serving in Alabama. That was the issue that was raised.

McClellan -- Look, Helen, I think the issue here was whether or not the President served in Alabama.

The one sure-fire consequence of the White House's strategy this week has been to keep the issue alive. And that seems stupid... unless it's a bait-and-switch. Keep the issue alive until you can navigate it into safe channels, then kill it.

Alabama service from October 1972 to January 1973 is clearly what the White House has designated as that safe channel. What they don't want to be examined is:

- the fact Bush left Texas for Alabama before making his initial transfer request in May 1972, and the fact that he stayed in Alabama after it was rejected

- how Bush got into the Guard so easily in the first place with DUIs on his record

- why he skipped his flight physical, and why he was allowed to skip his flight physical without making it up

etc. etc. There are other questions about that period of his life, but those seem to be the Guard-specific ones.

But so far the strategy isn't quite working. The New York Daily News, among others, has picked up the rejected transfer story. And questions about his preferential treatment are coming thick and fast.

The press corps doesn't feel like being massaged this time around, it seems.

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