[eDebate] Kerry and the medal

Michael Korcok mmk_savant
Thu Jan 29 13:34:49 CST 2004

Damn Newnam.

i think you are awesome... smart, wise, a good person...

but you believe a few stupid things... just too conspiracy-prone when it 
comes to Republicans.

a solid, balanced, discussion of the "Bush went AWOL"  nonsense at the 
Annenberg FactCheck site should fix this bit of silliness.  FactCheck is 
Kathleen Hall Jamieson's thing... far far far betta than the loopy left web.

and that means Kerry REALLY DID lie about throwing away his military service 
medals in a smarmy show while Bush DIDN'T REALLY go awol or desert or 

this is it:  ( http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=131 )

Bush A Military ?Deserter?? Calm Down, Michael
Clark backer Michael Moore calls President Bush a ?deserter? for missing Air 
National Guard drills 31 years ago. Puh-lease!

January 23, 2004
Modified: January 23, 2004
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This one has been around since Bush?s campaign against Al Gore, when a 
Boston Globe story appeared saying the newspaper could find no record of 
Bush attending required Air National Guard drills for a full year in 
1972-73. Bush says he missed some weekend drills during the period in 
question, but attended others and later attended extra drills to make up for 
those he missed. Several news organizations looked into the matter and 
reached mixed conclusions.

Websites devoted to criticizing Bush have kept the matter under discussion 
on the Internet ever since. It surfaced again when Michael Moore, the 
populist author and movie and TV producer, called Bush a ?deserter? at a 
rally supporting retired Gen. Wesley Clark in New Hampshire. Clark then said 
during a debate that ?I think Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he 
feels about this.?

The fact is Bush was honorably discharged without ever being officially 
accused of desertion or being away without official leave.


"The Top 5%"

After graduating from Yale in 1968, Bush escaped conscription and possible 
combat duty in the then-raging Vietnam War by getting into the Texas Air 
National Guard. During the next four years Bush served the equivalent of 21 
months on active duty, according to the Globe account, including more than a 
year of flight training. The Globe quoted Bush?s flight instructor, retired 
Col. Maurice H. Udell, as saying "I would rank him in the top 5 percent of 
pilots I knew.?

The Globe also said:

Those who trained and flew with Bush . . . said he was among the best pilots 
in the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. In the 22-month period between 
the end of his flight training and his move to Alabama, Bush logged numerous 
hours of duty, well above the minimum requirements for so-called "weekend 

"Began to Disappear"

But the Globe said Bush ?began to disappear from the Guard?s radar screen? 
with two years still to run on his six-year commitment, giving up flying for 
good in 1972. Bush moved from Houston to Alabama in May of 1972 to take part 
in the unsuccessful Senate campaign of Republican Winton Blount. Bush was 
supposed to report for duty at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery 
Alabama. But the unit?s commander at the time, retired Gen. William 
Turnipseed, was quoted by several news organizations as saying he had no 
recollection of Bush showing up. "I had been in Texas, done my  flight 
training there. If we had had a first lieutenant from Texas, I would have 
remembered," the Globe quoted him saying.

The Globe quoted Bush as saying through his spokesman Dan Bartlett that he 
did recall reporting for non-flying duty in Alabama, performing ?odds and 
ends? under supervisors whose names he could not recall.

"I Fulfilled My Obligations"

Bush himself later was quoted directly by the Dallas Morning News as 
admitting he missed some weekend drills while in Alabama, but saying he made 
them up afterward:

"I was there on a temporary assignment and fulfilled my weekends at one 
period of time," he said. "I made up some missed weekends."

"I can't remember what I did, but I wasn't flying because they didn't have 
the same airplanes. I fulfilled my obligations."

Records are lacking for that period. However, The Associated Press  quoted 
two friends who worked with Bush in the Blount campaign as saying they 
recall him attending Air National Guard drills in Alabama. Joe Holcombe, 
described as a former Republican county chairman in Alabama, was quoted as 
saying, "It was pretty well-known that he was in the Guard while we worked 
on the campaign." And Emily Martin, who said she had dated Bush during the 
campaign, was quoted saying, "He told us that he was having to do his Guard 
duty in Alabama while he worked on the campaign."

Bush returned to Houston after the campaign, but never resumed flying. He 
spent 36 days on duty back in Houston in May, June and July of 1973, the 
Globe reported. Spokesman Bartlett told FactCheck.org that Bush made up for 
weekend drills he was too busy to attend in Alabama. "The bottom line is he 
met his minimum requirments for that year," Bartlett said.

Bush requested and was granted special permission to end his six-year hitch 
eight months early. He was released in October 1973 to to allow him to 
attend Harvard Business School.

Reporters Dig In

After the Globe story, partisan websites denounced Bush as ?AWOL? and worse. 
One is even named AwolBush.com . But other news organizations dug in and 
came to much milder conclusions.

George Magazine reported in October of 2000:

It's time to set the record straight . . . . Bush may have received 
favorable treatment to get into the Guard, served irregularly after the 
spring of 1972 and got an expedited discharge, but he did accumulate the 
days of service required of him for his ultimate honorable discharge.

The New York Times reported Nov. 3, 2000:

But a review of records by The New York Times indicated that some of those 
concerns (about Bush?s absence) may be unfounded . . . . A review by The 
Times showed that after a seven-month gap, he appeared for duty in late 
November 1972 at least through July 1973.

The Washington Post also reviewed records and concluded:

It is safe to say that Bush did very light duty in his last two years in the 
Guard and that his superiors made it easy for him.

Some Democratic partisans have taken a much harsher view.

Democrats.com , a website that sells ?Impeach Bush Now? bumper stickers, 
posted a rebuttal to the George Magazine piece saying ?There is no credible 
evidence that Bush ever reported for duty for the last two years of his 
military obligation? and suggested ?substance abuse as the most likely 

Michael Moore: "General vs. Deserter"

Michael Moore, in his bestselling book Stupid White Men, included an open 
letter to President Bush calling him "a possible felon, an unconvicted 
deserter, and a crybaby."

Moore took it even further during a New Hampshire rally for Clark Jan. 17, 
predicting Clark would face Bush in the general election. ?I want to see 
that debate, the general versus the deserter,? Moore said with Clark looking 

Moore ?s "deserter" remark prompted ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings to 
confront Clark at a Democratic candidates debate Jan. 22:

Jennings: Now, that's a reckless charge not supported by the facts. And I 
was curious to know why you didn't contradict him . . .

Clark:  Well, I think Michael Moore has the right to say whatever he feels 
about this.I don't know whether this is supported by the facts or not. I've 
never looked at it. I've seen this charge bandied about a lot. But to me it 
wasn't material . . .

Jennings: Since this question and answer in which you and Mr. Moore was 
involved in, you've had a chance to look at the facts. Do you still feel 
comfortable with the fact that someone should be standing up in your 
presence and calling the president of the United States a deserter?

Clark: To be honest with you, I did not look at the facts, Peter. You know, 
that's Michael Moore's opinion. He's entitled to say that. I've seen -- he's 
not the only person who's said that. I've not followed up on those facts. 
And frankly, it's not relevant to me and why I'm in this campaign.

Clark ?s reluctance to contradict Moore was criticized the next day by the 
newspaper that started it all, the Boston Globe, which said in an editorial:

News reports, including some in the Globe , have questioned Bush's constancy 
as a National Guard airman at the time, but he has not been credibly accused 
of desertion, a serious charge. Clark should have distanced himself from the 


Walter V. Robinson ?One-year gap in Bush?s Guard duty : No records of airman 
at drills in 1972-73,? Boston Globe 23 May 2000: A1.

Wayne Slater "Records of Bush's Ala. Military Service Can't Be Found," 
Dallas Morning News 26 June 2000: A6.

The Associated Press "Friends from Alabama days back Bush's military 
claims," Houston Chronicle 5 July 2000: A17.

Peter Keating and Karthik Thyagarajan ?The Real Military Record of George W. 
Bush: Not Heroic, but Not AWOL, Either ,? George Magazine October 2000.

Jo Thomas ?The 2000 Campaign: Military Service; Bush?s Guard attendance is 
Questioned and Defended,? New York Times 3 Nov. 2000: A27.

Bob Fertik ?George Magazine is Wrong,? Democrats.com website, no date given.

George Lardner Jr.; Howard Kurtz ?2 Democrats: Bush Let Guard Down; Gore 
Surrogates Revive Issue of Apparent Laxity in Candidate's Military Service,? 
The Washington Post 3 Nov. 2000 : A22.

Eric Slater, ?Clark Showcases Mixed Bag of Backers in New Hampshire 
;Filmmakers, former Clinton advisors and others stump for the Democratic 
hopeful? Los Angeles Times 18 Jan. 2004: A23.

?Answers Beat Questions,? Boston Globe editorial 23 Jan. 2004.

Michael Korcok

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