February 9, 2004
George AWOL Bush Meets The Press. (Or: “I Worked It Out With The Military!”)
It’s interesting to listen to the President’s language and logic. Here’s the exchange between Bush and Tim Russert on Meet the Press this morning regarding Bush’s AWOL status:
RUSSERT: The Boston Globe and the Associated Press have gone through some of their records and said there’s no evidence that you reported to duty in Alabama during the summer and fall of 1972.
BUSH: Yes, they’re — they’re just wrong. There may be no evidence, but I did report. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been honorably discharged.
RUSSERT: When allegations were made about John McCain or Wesley Clark on their military records, they opened up their entire files. Would you agree to do that?
BUSH: Yes. Listen, these files have been — I mean, people have been looking for these files for a long period of time, trust me, and starting in the 1994 campaign for governor. And I can assure you in the year 2000 people were looking for those files, as well. Probably you were.
And absolutely, I mean, I…
RUSSERT: But you will allow pay stubs, tax records, anything to show that you were serving during that period?
BUSH: Yes. If we still have them, but I — you know, the records are kept in Colorado, as I understand, and they scoured the records.
Basically, what Bush is saying is that it’s his word against whoever elses, and nobody is going to find those records.
The other interesting comment, which the President made off-handedly, involved his use of family connections to avoid extended service:
RUSSERT: You were allowed to leave eight months before your term expired. Was there a reason?
BUSH: Right. Well, I was going to Harvard Business School and worked it out with the military.
Listening to the interview, I though Bush said “we worked it out with the military.” In any case, the comment clearly reveals Bush’s use of family privilege. That fact that he would mention it so casually and obviously reveals how much he takes it for granted.
Bush Senior got nailed in his re-election bid when he revealed the same attitude. In his case, he was taken to task for failing to recognize that supermarket checkout counters used scanning equipment.
It will be interesting to see if the public latches on to the same perception about Junior.