Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Michael Kelly misses the point (Gasp!)

First, it should be pointed out that the rest of us were on one side or the other of the whole "Chicken Hawk" debate several months ago, but the ever-current Mr. Kelly only recently seems to have taken his head out of his ass for a quick gulp of air and noticed it was there.

What Kelly fails to realize is that the people who are pointing out the blatant cowardice of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney aren't saying that civilians can't control the military. We're not. We're simply saying that these people are quite free with other peoples' lives, when they themselves ran like scared little rabbits when they were asked to serve.

Remember when people called Clinton a draft-dodger? Many people would like to say that you cannot compare Clinton's action and Bush's. Bush, after all, joined another branch of service, so was unavailable to serve in Vietnam. I say that, in a way, you're right. You can't compare the actions of Clinton and Bush. You can't compare their actions because Clinton was actually qualified to receive his deferment.

Remember that, no matter what you may think of the man, Clinton is one smart guy. He attended Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship during the Vietnam War. Clearly, he was the type of man for whom the student deferment was intended. Unlike, say, Trent Lott, who sent the Department of Defense his regrets because he was too busy being a college cheerleader.

Bush, on the other hand, received a score of 25 percent on a pilot aptitude test, yet passed over a waiting list of more than 500 in gaining a coveted Air National Guard commission. At the time his father was a Texas senator and, no matter what Bush might say now, politics was obviously involved in his being accepted.

Ben Barnes, speaker of the Texas House in 1968, admitted in a sworn deposition in 1999 that he had made calls to Guard officials on Bush's behalf at the behest of a Bush family friend.

I will admit that I understand, as most should, Bush's desire to avoid Vietnam. I would like to think that, as a veteran myself, I would have chosen a different path than he, but who can say?

What cannot be understood (and should not be overlooked) is that after receiving an opportunity to avoid service in wartime, Bush did not fulfill the commitment that kept him out of the war and was basically AWOL for an entire year.

In May 1972, Bush requested a transfer to an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery, Ala., in order to assist with a Republican senate race. (The transfer was, by the way, denied by the Air Reserve Personnel Center, but Bush went anyway.) This request was a strange move for a man who now touts his "love" of flying, as the unit in question was a postal unit. One possible explanation for this move was unearthed by London's Sunday Times, which discovered that, later in that year, Bush would be grounded for failing to take a physical that included a drug test. The policy was a new one in 1972, implemented only one month before Bush requested his transfer to Alabama.

But Bush would still have had to take the drug test in Alabama. The only way he could have avoided it was to simply not show up.

Which is exactly what he did.

From May 1972 to May 1973, there is no record in Bush's military service record that he fulfilled even one day of his 36-day military obligation. Retired Gen. William Turnipseed, commander of the Alabama unit, has backed this up, saying that Bush never reported for service in his unit.

It should be remembered that, while Bush has admitted to having something of a wild youth, he has commented about drugs only to say, in 1999, that he could have passed the strictest oath required for federal service which says that the applicant has not used illegal drugs in 25 years. Bush, therefore, has only said that he hasn't used drugs since 1974, when he was already out of the Air National Guard.

Bush has denied allegations that he went AWOL, but not very strongly. He said, through a spokesperson, that he had "some recollection" of attending his required drills.

Let's remember a statement Bush made to National Guard Review in 1998. In an interview, Bush was recalling the camaraderie among Air National Guardsmen when he said, "I can remember walking up to my F-102 fighter and seeing the mechanics there. I was on the same team as them, and I relied on them to make sure that I wasn't jumping out of an airplane. There was a sense of shared responsibility in that case. The responsibility to get the airplane down. The responsibility to show up and do your job."

I know this is all old business, but this is why we're so pissed, Michael. It's not that the war will be run by civilians or people who stayed out of Vietnam on principle. We're pissed because lying cowards are getting ready to send Americans to die in a war with only the slimmest of justifications. We call them chicken hawks because they want to start a fight. Otherwise, we'd just call them chickenshit.

P.S. Kelly also compares Bush to "such notable 'chicken hawks' as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt." The former comparison is a lie and the latter is just stupid. Lincoln joined up in 1832 to fight in the Black Hawk War and was chosen as the Captain of his company. When the company disbanded, he re-enlisted as a private to continue the fight. Chicken hawk? I think not. As for FDR, he did have polio.

You're a stupid, stupid man, Mr. Kelly.


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