Saturday, May 07, 2005

Draft-avoidance, Clinton, Bush and Cheney

In your response to my Homosexuality and the Service post, you wrote the following:
Especially given his draft-avoidance via college deferrment, Clinton was in very low regard throughout the military.
I was aware that draft-avoidance was a bone of contention for many anti-Clinton folks.

Both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney avoided the draft during the Vietnam War. Bush's non-Vietnam experience is well known. Cheney reportedly enjoyed five deferrments during which he also attended college.

I should point out that as a pacifist, I don't have a fundamental problem with draft-avoidance. If I was George H.W. Bush, I would have pulled strings to get my son into the National Guard, too. If I was Cheney, I would have tried to stay in college and get multiple deferrments for as long as possible.

My father, married and just out of college faced the draft in 1965. Instead of being drafted into the army he chose to enlist in the Air Force instead. He and my mother moved to Texas while my father went to OCS and then pilot training (F-4 fighter) at Lanark AFB. My mother lived off-base in a motel with a group of other Air Force wives.

In the end, three-quarters of the way through pilot training, my father got a kidney stone and was hospitalized on base. Once the stone had passed, he returned to his barracks from the hospital to find a note instructing him to report to his CO. He did so, and was medically discharged on the spot. The Air Force wanted no responsibility over him as the kidney stone apparently revealed some sort of congenital kidney deficiency. (Fortunately for him, the kidney deficiency didn't bother him again until he was over 60 years old!)

There were all sorts of circumstances that kept young men out of Vietnam proper.

Do Bush and Cheney's draft-avoidance methods place them in low regard with you or with the military in general? Do their experiences differ from those of Bill Clinton in your eyes? Why?

Dadmanly Responds:

There are big differences between the way soldiers today view Vietnam and the way most of that generation did at the time. Soldiers today are pretty matter of fact about such things. Running away to Canada was cowardly, and showed no sense of personal responsibility for one's country. National Guard service was a choice, but a perfectly valid one.

Mnay National Guard units deployed to Vietnam, obviously some didn't. Being drafted was a real good way of ending up in Vietnam, volunteering for service gave you some options. Very few veterans today think there's anything wrong with that, the modern volunteer Army is ALL about what you can get in your enlistment (or re-enlistment) contract.

Some conservatives during and since the war might disparage Guard service as a way of avoiding Vietnam, but I think that's not too common an attitude. I hear my father-in-law describe what he and his buddies did in WW II and Korea, and most men who might be soldiers have always played the angles or tried to find the best service or the best duty or the best deal. Vietnam was no different.

For the guys who did go to Vietnam, especially those drafted, many resented that others got out of going or found easier duty. But that's a far cry from how they felt about deserters, draft dodgers, and conscientious objectors. College deferrments? Likewise, soldiers of the time certainly thought of that as the college boys gaming the system to get out of the fight. There was a fair amount of class and socio-economic fault lines in Vietnam and those who served, but that had to do with opportunity and how those might be more difficult to come by for some than for others.

Clinton got a bad rap with soldiers because of his avoidance of the draft on a college deferrment, and subsequent decisions that made soldiers feel that as Commander in Chief he was at least ambivalent about them, and at worse antagonistic. Don't ask, don't tell, what was seen as military adventurism (this was before 9/11), perceived use of the military for public relations, and the Monica Lewinsky reminiscent Berets -- all of these diminished Clinton's standing.

By the way, Gore suffered from the perception of his service as well, much like Kerry. Gore did a short stint as a Army Press reporter if I understand it, so he could get combat time, patches, etc., before Senator Gore pulled him back home post-haste. Kerry's 4 months in the combat zone, possible self-recommending himself for awards, then abandoning his crew, and of course his Winter Soldier escapade. (He reminds me of Annie's hippie boyfriend in Forrest Gump, who hits Annie when mad, but then blames it on that "damned Johnson.")

Most of us didn't really know Cheney, but he had served as a Defense Secretary and had the link to Reagan and Bush 41, so he kind of got a free pass. You might remember Dan Quaile was a Guardsman who avoided Vietnam, but he was almost a complete unknown and pretty lightweight, and I don't think it was even on the radar. And Bush 41 was the most unlikely of war heroes, although a Fighter Pilot in WWII, he had more of the career bureaucrat air about him from all his CIA and Washington insider time, so he didn't benefit as much as he could have from his war record.

George W. Bush? He was trained as a Pilot. His unit could have been called up, some were, and many of those who proceeded him did. He volunteered at one point to go, but there is some evidence that his father's influence could have caused him to lose or miss the opportunity. By the time he was fully trained, the model he flew was less in need than it had been.

But I don't think any of that really matters to 90% of GIs. They like him because he so clearly likes the military. He treats military people great and with deep respect. And he's learned enough about what makes them tick that he doesn't come off sounding like someone who only knows what to say because someone wrote down the words for him. He's a natural, and soldiers hate phony more than anything.

And he came away from 9/11 wanting to kick some butt. He believes deeply in this purpose, in the crucial need to win, the danger of our adversaries and the dangerous consequences if we lose. He risked his future and his legacy on some bold foreign policy decisions that may still go south. But if we succeed, and the Middle East continues its shift away from Terror and Oppression and towards democracy, his gamble will be remembered as the stunning U.S. Foreign Policy achievement of the century.

And soldiers want to win, they're fed up with being used as tokens on some Diplomatic gameboard. They know their lives are worth more than that. If they're going to risk their lives for something, they want it to be grand and big and important and something that changes the world for the better. And if they can kick some terrorist or dictator butt in the process, well that just counts as icing on the cake.

responds again:

I'm disappointed by your response here.

Partisanship aside, as a grown man and as a soldier, do you really believe that Kerry recommended himself for his awards? This has never been proven.

You appear to be attributing the best of intentions to the Republicans you speak of and the worst of intentions to the Democrats across the board.


responds again:

At first I was puzzled by your disappointment, but I think you make your point clearer in the comments. I do think otherwise sensible people on the left and right (whether Democrat, Republican, or unaffiliated) do tend to hound the political opposition to their graves. I've read a lot about of criticism about Ronald Reagan that would fir that category, but surely Republicans and conservatives can be rightly accused as well.

I think a big difference is that many of the battles that underlie the animosity are STILL actively being fought. The accurate legacy of Vietnam (did we lose, or win but withdraw?), the Cold War (were the Soviets or even Communism worth fighting), Socialism and/or Welfare Reform. And as far as Kerry, Clinton, and Gore, these individuals or their close associates (how's that for a euphemism, "I was once Bill's close associate") are still out there, if not in direct opposition as a candidate or potential candidate, than a political surrogate to a slugfest.

As a veteran, there is a big difference in the ways variuous candidates and politicians used (and exploited) their service. And yes, given several ket sets of facts, I believe John Kerry largely invented and certainly exaggerated his service records multiple times, for one set of purposes in the 70's and for a different set of purposes in the 80'0 and 90's and onwards. There are many other pieces of circumstantial evidence that I won't belabor that lead me to suspect there are numerous documents in Kerry's military record that contradict much of his public statements of his service.

No doubt, I am far more skeptical of the official version of his service than Bush's. But I will say that I have no doubt that all three -- Bush, Gore and Kerry, along with countless others -- no doubt gained considerable advantage due to their station and political connections. I still maintain, however, that Bush gained advantage from his military record but rarely stressed it; Kerry based his entire campaign on it.

One last point. Military men and women have a very keen eye for fair weather friends. Bush had the great advantage of having biological and philosophical antecedants with rock solid military credentials: Ronald Reagan and Bush 41. Kerry had no such advantage, in Clinton, Gore, and Kennedy (Ted).

I'll admit to being partisan, but it would be hard not to stray with a question posed as this one is. To paraphrase "Oh Brother Where Art Thou," to ask such a loaded question without a partisan response would "whet the appetite without beddin' her back down."

I guess that's the best I can do for this one.

Question from LiberalAvenger:

What were Ronald Reagan's rock solid military credentials?

Dadmanly responds:

I never would have guessed this term "credentials," would have so many shades of meaning. If this debate has taught me anything, it is that people have many different senses of what it means to be credentialed.

I meant that Ronald Reagan was given great credit by the military, not that he was some big military hero. He was extremely popular with soldiers, much like Bush 43.

As to his actual military service, quoting from a CNN biography:
During World War II, Reagan's poor eyesight kept him from combat, and he was assigned to make military training films. He was discharged as a Army captain in 1945, but not, he later said, before developing a disdain for the inefficiency of the military's bureaucracy.

I think I figured out why Presidents like Bush 43 and Reagan were so popular with the troops, and why others like Clinton and Carter (and even to an extent Bush 41, believe it or not).

Military members believe strongly in the mission of and purpose for the U.S. Armed Forces. They tend to be conservative, and they share none of the reluctance to use the military to support or fulfill U.S. National Security objectives as long as those objectives are sound. They also tend towards the macho, and strong figures like Reagan or Bush, while otherwise polarizing and divisive, were and are nothing if not powerly and assertive. I need not describe some of the frequent stereotypical comments about others for you to surmise correctly what those might have sounded like.

Reagan was a staunch anti-communist. As a cold warrior in the 80's, I can vouch that the prevalent feeling in the U.S. Military was likewise anit-communist, especially those of us in the know about Soviet and Communist activities, and in tune with what was a very strong "heartland" animosity towards the communists. Ascribe its source where you may, but also consider it one of the earliest precursor to the "Red State - Blue State" divide. (Only then, the point of divide was antipathy towards the "red" menace.)

I fault Reagan for mnay of the failings foreign policy wise as his next two successors. Much was left unattended to. But there is no question that standing up (with strength) to the Soviets and pushing against their interests was rather (though not universally) popular with the military. (As I stated, I hated him at the time, but have I think a wiser awareness now.)

It may seem counterintuitive for someone not in service, but soldiers don't restrict themselves to narrow personal interest. Once you are the type of person who is willing to serve, with all that that entails, you are likely to be quite ready to place the national interest above your own. Sure, there are grumblings from some about "we have no f'ing business being here," but that's the exception, and within military culture, that kind of negativity and resistance is frowned upon.

Reagan and Bush 43 conveyed a strong sense of valuing the military and being willing to use it without fear or hesitation, and showing deep conviction that doing so was the right thing to do for America (whether or not it was or they had to follow through, placing their soldiers boots where their mouth was). This then dovetails with my observation about (macho) military perceptions of strength and strong leadership.

Not to be partisan -- I don't mean it that way -- Republicans of late have done better with image and perception in this regard than Democrats. Not that that's all it is, its fueled and supported by real issues and real decisions and stances. But I am often impressed by how much nonverbal communication goes on that all of us underestimate. Military men and women are trained to be obedient, and respond in an instant to the commands and directives of those in authority over us. I think that's why we're so attuned to some that fit that communications model, and tune out or can't hear or respect those who don't communicate strongly in that way.

We know strong leaders, and we respect strong and forceful leadership. Any amount of indecisiveness, uncertainty, or even "nuance" could get us killed. Hence all the stories, mostly apocryphal, about fragging during Viet Nam. Soldiers grouse about poor leadership and uncertain or flawed leadership more thna any other single thing, and some will translate those complaints into mental "lists" of who the first one to get it will be. Those comments go away when leadership is strong, decisive, but fair and always mindful of the cost of decisions upon soldiers.


At 2:58 AM, Blogger wanda said...

As a military brat, who then married a military man, I think I can safely say I understand the responsibilities and sacrifices associated with the military.
Clinton's lack of military service never bothered me. Perhaps because he never came off as a chickenhawk. You know one of those types who are all gung ho on war, as long as they don't have to be the one's on the front line.
Which is probably why Bush and Cheney's lack of serivce DOES bother me so much. They both avoided the military and serving in Vietnam, yet now they are willing and ready, nay anxious, to send our troops into battle. Neither has any idea what war is nor the cost it entails. Equally important is the fact, they do nothing to improve the lot (pay, benifits) of the solider or of veterans. They spout the words support our troops but their actions defy their words.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger 74 said...

IMO, the whole draft-dodging/deferment/TANG arguments seem to be looking at things from the wrong angle. For many of us in the service, it wasn't so much that Clinton had avoided the draft before becomiing CinC, it was the total lack of respect afterwards. How many of you out there can honestly say they enjoy working for someone who does not appreciate their hard work and sacrifice? In my naval career, I served under seven different presidents, JFK to Bush 41. Some I liked and respected more than others, but none of them exhibited the utter disdain toward the military that Clinton did. That said, at least Cheney was straightforward about his deferements and didn't try to "game" the system like Clinton did. As for Bush, anyone who would willing pilot an F-102 has more courage than I ever had to have during my tour in Vietnam. Wanda, Bush spent 2 1/2 years on active duty. That was longer than most draftees. That was longer than I spent on active duty during my first (reserve) enlistment. It was spent doing the same sort of thing that hundreds of thousands of other servicemen and women were doing at the time who had not been sent to Vietnam, but were very much fighting the Cold War every day.

At 4:52 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Wanda is dead on right! That is the big issue. Clinton was consistent... he held disdain for the Military in just about everything he did. He had to live with it as a "necessary evil" but he was very open about it.

Bush and Cheney seem to hold personal disdain (Not serving, Bush's daughters do not serve) yet they publicly make it look like they are the reincarnation of Patton and McCarthur. I prefer someone who is consistent regardless of their position.

Dadmanly says that going to Canada is cowardly. Let's explore that. In a generic sense, you are saying that if you truly believe that a war or service in the war is unjust you should not avoid participation. Let's keep this generic.

You are a German, it is 1940. You have a choice. Go to war in a Nazi uniform or avoid it and try to get to Switzerland. What do you do?

To be clear, I AM NOT SAYING BUSH or anyone in America is a Nazi. I am trying to point out that avoiding participation is NOT cowardly in all cases. In some it is exactly the right thing to do. Certainly you would not say, "Oh well, the Country calls..." and go off in a Nazi uniform would you?

So, if we can agree that it is not ALWAYS cowardly, then we are debating the degree of significance not the act of avoiding participation right?

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Ryan said...

74: Some I liked and respected more than others, but none of them exhibited the utter disdain toward the military that Clinton did.

I was growing up on military bases during the Clinton years, and I don't recall this sentiment being widespread.

Could you explain what you mean by "utter disdain toward the military"?

It seemed to me like people were generally content during those years.

I can only think of base closings as an example, but that's the kind of tough decision that peacetime Presidents face, when trying to balance a budget. So I can see how most people would have forgiven him for that.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...


Personally, I wouldn't go so far as to say anyone of left for Canada was a coward. I state, that many in the military would think so, and I think that's true. And I can understand their resentment.

I am sure there's the whole range of motivations. Some were scared, some selfish, and I'm sure others walked away from a lot and risked or lost plenty in making a decision of conscience.

We have several young people (and one or two old ones) that I struggle with in getting them to adhere to orders and directives "from above." I try to reason with them sometimes, after a while I just need to be the "big toe" (as in on the foot that kicks them in the butt) as my S3 says.

The root of their arguments and objections always runs along the lines of, "that's stupid, why do we have to do that?"

The usual answer is, "because it's an order," sometimes with an explanation of the rationale (if I can even articulate one).

The best I ever heard suggested -- not implemented -- was to reply along the lines of, "Why, that's profound. You are very smart indeed. And what makes you think you are the first and only person who has ever thought of that?"

A strong and effective military is relies on disciplined soldiers. It's not like anything else in society, "it's not a democracy," as I remember my drill SGT saying. We will fail at our missions if too many of these soldiers can't react immediately under unders.

I see it every day. The threat is everpresent, yet day-after-day, soldiers willingly place themselves in harms way for their country. Every soldier disagrees with something, many don't want to be here, a few may think about refusing, but each one, every one, knows the sacrifice they are making and they know their country by and large appreciates it.

At 9:17 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

I don't have a problem with draft dodgers at all, for whatever reason. There's nothing wrong with being a coward... why go to war if you're going to be scared sh*tless the whole time and get other people killed cause of it? Really.. makes more sense to go to Canada.

Have trouble following orders? Too curious to just take it up the ass whenever someone says jump without wondering why? Have trouble with the idea of killing people, especially potentially innocent people? Pacisfist? Don't join the forces!

That's why I think the draft is morally wrong in the first place. You should NEVER FORCE someone to fight a war they don't believe in or aren't capable of fighting for. I'd rather have 10 good soliders ready to die believing their doing what's right than 100 who don't.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

I don't recall Bill Clinton being disdainful of the military, or non-supportive. I do recall the Republican Noise Machine making unsupported allegations along those lines.

It's all marketing - Clinton "dissed" the military because he wanted to cash in a "peace dividend" while George W Bush "supports" the military by sending too few troops to secure Iraqi weapons depots and nuclear sites with not enough armored HumVees. Bush cut veteran's benefits to give rich spoiled children more tax cuts. Bush tried to cut combat pay for the folks serving in Iraq (Source: Army Times Editorial: Nothing but lip service [July 2, 2003]). Other than stage a "Top Gun" style photo op on aircraft carrier, precisely what has "W" done to support the troops? .

At 10:09 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...


You miss the point. Whether Clinton was or wasn't supportive of troops, or whether you or others think troops shouldn't like Bush, the fact is the overwhelming majority of soldiers (70-75% before/during the election) like Bush, just about the reverse of numbers for Clinton.

And you and your friends can gnash and rehash your reasons till the end of time, it won't change that reality. Troops liked Bush, hated Clinton. (Maybe they see things you don't?)

At 1:11 AM, Blogger Synova said...

I took 2 years of AFROTC in college and both of the men who commanded the detatchment had served in Viet Nam. So we talked a bit about Viet Nam and what it was like to fight a war that the politicians wouldn't let them win. Just the strategic and tactical stuff, not the political. Neither man was pro-war in any sense but I came away from the experience with the strong belief that, though war should be avoided if possible, if it must be fought we have a responsibility not to fight half-measures.

I was active duty during Desert Storm and when Clinton was elected. I don't know that Bush did so well, though he only had four years in. I think he stopped before Bagdad and didn't do better in Somalia as much because he feared he wouldn't be re-elected and have the chance to finish those things as any other reason.

Clinton? I believe everyone made such a big deal about his draft deferments because he was running against Bush and we were involved in Somalia and had just gone through Desert Storm so it was reasonable to wonder what kind of a president he'd be with the military. Bush understandably used this as best he could, though he lost the election.

I felt like Clinton disrespected the military at the time. Why, I couldn't say. In any case, he earned it while in office. Force reductions impacted my life directly because people in our shop would transfer out and no one new would transfer in again. We were always able to get our jobs done but we found it nearly impossible to keep up with the additional duties required to keep military readiness. It was frustrating.

And then there was Somalia. It was utterly humiliating to turn tail and run because some of our people were killed. If it wasn't worth the risk, why the heck were we there? Then there was Bosnia and Clinton going for the half-measures again, the risk-free options. We could drop bombs safely, but commit ground troops? Oh, no. They might get killed. I remember when we lost our very first pilot. It was a disaster! We could drop bombs on people but one American life was too much. Gradually in bits and dribbles, we did end up with a ground presence. This is not decisive military leadership.

When Dubya ran for office I don't think anyone really cared that he'd served in the guard except for those who were still upset about Clinton getting hammered for it. And he did serve and no big deal that he didn't get sent to Viet Nam.


And then there was Kerry. Perhaps still thinking that people really cared a whole lot that Clinton hadn't served, his 4 months were showcased as proof positive that he'd make a fantabulous war-time president... unlike Bush who used his influence to get a cushy job.

But the truth is that no one really cares that much about military service or getting out of going to Viet Nam. People who understood that war is fought in minds before it is ever fought on the battle field were appalled that someone who clearly had no concept of this fundamental military truth might be elected. One of the most chilling things, as former military, that I heard Kerry say was that he only voted for the war in Iraq because he thought it would be used as a threat and that we'd never actually do it. I'd have felt much better had he voted "no" because it betrayed an attitude about the military as something to ding around with while not actually meaning it.

That and publically calling Alawii a puppet. Leadership, ROTC 101... a leader does not undermine the cause, no matter what their personal opinion. Undermining the cause gets soldiers dead. Soldiers don't trust people who don't care if they get them dead.

No one in uniform expects Bush to be perfect or war to be without mistakes, even serious ones. But they trust him not to carelessly or maliciously waste them.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Synova said...

Gosh that was windy... sorry.

I should, for the sake of accuracy, say that *of course* some troops don't trust Bush in the least and some troops certainly do feel betrayed by him.

Most do trust him, though. Recruiters may be having problems but re-enlistments are exceeding target percentages, even among those who know that they will be headed back to Iraq.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger wanda said...

74, I beg to differ with you. Bush did not spend two years on active duty. He actually served about half that time. And the time served was as a weekend fly boy. The last year of his ANG duty was spent in Alabama and he never showed up for a single weekend training drill. Yep, that's the stuff hero's are made of.
I've known several pilots over the years and believe it doesn't take any great brains to operate an aircraft that is almost totally computerized. Especially in a peacetime enviorment. True we were at war during Bush's time but he never even came close to seeing a battle field.
I like, Ryan was living on military bases during Clinton's years as CofC and I don't recall the distain of which you speak. I do recall that the military over all was in better shape and better treated than they have been since.
How can you say that Bush & Cheney have great respect for the military when they are both quite willing to send our troops into battle for their own personal causes and vendetta's?
Anyone who doesn't know by now that there never were any WMD's and the people of this country were lied to and mislead regarding Iraq, is living in a vacuum. Lies and deceptions that were aided and abedded by none other than John Bolton. Which is what earned him his nomination as US Ambassador to the UN. One things for certain, you can't say Bush doesn't reward his loyal sycophants. Rice, Rumsfield, Gonzales, and now Bolton are proof positive.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger 74 said...

Wanda, just two quick points. The F-102 which Bush flew was designed in the '50s. There wasn't one bit of computerization on those things except the pilot. The F-102 was a notoriously "delicate" plane to fly--meaning if the pilot wasn't real careful, the Next of Kin were going to be collecting some life insurance. Bush's 2 years of active duty were the normal time it took to go through pilot training and learn how to fly one of those widow-makers without killing himself and others.

"I've known several pilots over the years and believe it doesn't take any great brains to operate an aircraft that is almost totally computerized. Especially in a peacetime enviorment." Sorry Wanda, that just proves you don't really know much about military flying. I am not a pilot myself, but I spent several years working closely with Navy pilots and and several of those shipmates became irrevocably dead while flying your easy peacetime missions (and those were modern "computerized" aircraft.) Being a military dependent gives one a certain insight into the service that most civilians don't get. That said, my wife and two daughters haven't got a clue about what its really like--except for one thing. After taking my oldest girl on a "Tiger" cruise one day, aboard the carrier I was stationed on; she swore she would never join the service.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Terry said...

It doesn't surprise me that anyone has issues with Clinton's stance toward the military. I don't recall ever feeling that Bill felt any 'disdain' for the military, but I also don't recall any actions on his part that made me feel he was especially fond of our armed forces.

What does surprise me is that anyone believes that GW and company view our military with anything BUT disdain. Not only did they shirk their own duty (GW's performance often being referred to as 'desertion'), but they've also purposefully sent our armed forces into a war that we had no business starting. Then, they've made sure that our troops are ill-equipped, inadequately trained and undercompensated. And just to nail the trifecta, they've been doing everything in their power to cut benefits to those who have served their country in the past, as well as those serving today.

If this isn't disdain, then what the hell is?

At 12:35 PM, Blogger RepubAnon said...

Dadmanly, I'm not sure i understand your position. I said that the reason the polls showed the troops as anti-Clinton and pro-Bush II was marketing. Clinton was portrayed in the media as a draft-dodger, Bush II is portrayed as pro-military.

If I understand your position, you're saying it doesn't matter why the troops like Bush II and disliked Clinton. What I'm discussing are the reasons underlying their belief - notably that Bush-II has conducted a good PR campaign with the troops while the underlying realities of his policies are anti-troop.

As for whether the troops perceive something I don't - that's a specious argument. If we're talking facts, cite some. If we're talking troops relative perceptions of Clinton vs. Bush-II, that is exactly what I'm talking about as well.

We agree the troops like Bush-II and disliked Clinton. My position is that the reason for this is based on the successful Republican marketing campaigns running Clinton down and praising Bush-II rather on substantive issues.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger wanda said...

74, you say Bush's 2 year tour of duty was about what it took to learn how to pilot the aircraft. Well then explain how he was able to do so when he never reported for his weekend training during his last year? A year he spent in Alabama. So either he was a genius and learned in one year what normally takes two, or he was basically a deserter who shirked his duty.
The fact that many pilots died doesn't offer any evidense of Bush's mental abilities nor of his abilities to fly. In fact did he ever even fly solo?
That said, Bush's ability or lack of has nothing to do with my opinion of him as a draft dodger. In fact his successful avoidence of the draft has nothing to do with my opinion of him. On the other hand everything in the following comment does.
"GW and company view our military with anything BUT disdain. Not only did they shirk their own duty (GW's performance often being referred to as 'desertion'), but they've also purposefully sent our armed forces into a war that we had no business starting. Then, they've made sure that our troops are ill-equipped, inadequately trained and undercompensated. And just to nail the trifecta, they've been doing everything in their power to cut benefits to those who have served their country in the past, as well as those serving today."
I couldn't have said it better!

At 1:02 AM, Blogger 74 said...

Wanda, I really want to avoid scarcasm here, but it is tempting to ask if your search engine is calibrated to only return items that agree with your politics. A quick google search brought up this document:
You might have some trouble intrepreting it, but as a Naval Reservist during that same era, I can. It shows that GWB enlisted in the TANG in May of 68 and that he served as an elisted man until September of that year, when he became a Pilot Trainee. This first part is significant. He was already in the Guard as an enlisted clerk. That is about a safe as you could get and still be in the service. He then volunteered for pilot training which is significantly more hazardous. From Nov 68 through May 69 he attended flight training at Moody AFB. That was not a Guard base--that was the regular Air Force, and he learned to fly in the same class with regular Air Force personnel. He was then transferred back to Texas to continue duties as a Pilot Trainee, and then as a Pilot. As of the end of May 71, he had accumulated about 600 days of active duty. At that time, his unit was redesignated as a training squadron. This is when he seemd to lose interest in flying. Why? He was already half-way through his military obligation and the aircraft he had been trained to fly was being phased out. It would have taken at least another year of active duty to phase into another type of aircraft. He had already performed much more active duty than most Guardsmen were required to have. He only had to make the yearly minimum of about 22 days of drills to complete his obligation. If he wasn't going to make a career out of it, there wasn't much point to continue flying - especially in a non-operational environment.
As a person who was intimately familiar with Reserve/Guard policies and requirements in that era and having viewed the appropriate military documents, my opinion is that he more than fulfilled his military requirements. Also, before you label me as a Republican zealot, be advised that I vote both sides of the aisle and had voted for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

At 1:06 AM, Blogger 74 said...

Ooops, for some reason blogger truncated that link in my last post. Here is the correct info:


Apparantly, it won't take the whole thing at once.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

74, I have to say this but that gif could be anyone's or no one's at all. Most of it's so illegible and it's not even clear who it's pertaining to. A third of it can't even be read because it's been so poorly preserved and scanned. I'm just not the kind of person that can take things "on faith" just cause someone says so. If you want to prove your point, you'll need better evidence than that poor gif.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Synova said...

" doesn't take any great brains to operate an aircraft that is almost totally computerized."

What aircraft did he fly? In what year? I had a nice ride in a T-33 once. Felt like a tin can with wings. No computers.

Were things better for troops under Clinton? Probably. One year after Clinton left office we were at war. War is usually worse than peace. This isn't surprising. Were they better for troops before Clinton? I think so. Have the benifits for servicemembers ever been enough, even in peacetime, to make up for the pain in the butt parts of it? No.

"How can you say that Bush & Cheney have great respect for the military when they are both quite willing to send our troops into battle for their own personal causes and vendetta's?"

If a person doesn't believe that we've got good reason to be in Iraq, then all that is left is personal causes and vendettas. Some people, though, do believe that Iraq was necessary and do believe what Bush says about Iraq is what he really thinks. Which way you go depends on if you think bush is venal (personal causes and vendettas) or meglamanical (grand cause of democracy remaking the world into something we can live with.)

Troops (in general) not only like Bush and Cheney. They like Rumsfield and Condi. A person can decide that they are all a bunch of idiots or that, obligatory complaining aside, they are working for someone who is unlikely to tell them to fight and then not let them do it as well as they can, or who will fail to stand the course and render their ultimate sacrifice worthless.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Synova said...

"And just to nail the trifecta, they've been doing everything in their power to cut benefits to those who have served their country in the past, as well as those serving today."

The only concrete example I've seen given for this was some changes to VA benifits that redistributed VA funds and changed some rules to use those funds more effectively. Some few benifits were "cut" for those veterans who most certainly could affort $5 extra for a drug perscription co-pay and given to other VA programs.

Most certainly we could do much more for our veterans but I don't think that the accusation that Bush has been doing everything in his power to stick it to veterans has any basis in rationality. Everyone *knows* that when Democrats say "cut" they really mean "increased funding but at a slower rate of increase than before." So I don't think that asking for specific evidence of actual cuts to programs is the least bit unreasonable. Until then, it's just rhetoric. What fiscal appropriations for the military and veterans has he said no to?

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Synova said...

Concerning Bush's guard service, I know what I'm inclined to think of it but I didn't want to just assume that my opinion was anything other than an outlier, having been alive at the time but just barely.

So I asked people.

While those who got deferments at the time might have suffered some resentment those who didn't, it wasn't and isn't that big a deal.

People who have served in the National Guard might be expected to resent the implication that someone in the guard doesn't have a clue about what military service means.

People who are active duty have a bit of attitude about the guard (I know the difference in seriousness at basic for those going into guard and reserves was noticable to those of us going active duty) but not even active duty people (in general, do I need to say that, in general, part?) get bent out of shape about Bush's time in Alabama because they understand it in the context of how the service works. Not meaning to speak for the other services, but I imagine they aren't that different. There's strict punishment for not showing up to work (and any time out sick requires going to "sick call" and getting a doctors OK) unless, for some reason, your boss (who ever that is) doesn't care if you show up. You say, "Hey, my folks are flying in on Tuesday and I'd like to pick them up at the airport, do I need to take leave?" and maybe your NCOIC says "You can't go" or maybe he says "Yes" or maybe he asks what time and then says, "Nah, get that one job done and then take off. Actually, we're pretty slow so call Tuesday before I leave and find out if I need you in on Wednesday or not."

If Bush was told to show up for work in Alabama and *didn't* that would be a far different thing. That he said, "Hey, I'm working on this campain, do you'all care if I show up?" and the answer was "Heck, no, can't imagine what we'd do with you." And grease monkeys who are in the National Guard shrug and do some obligatory muttering about fly boys, figure it's one less yahoo to salute while walking to the coke machine and forget about it.

People who think this was a terrible sin are functioning under some serious misunderstandings about how the military and *especially* the guard, works.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Synova "Some few benifits were "cut" for those veterans who most certainly could affort $5 extra for a drug perscription co-pay and given to other VA programs."

My father works for the VA hospital here and I have no idea what FEW veterans could possibly afford the "$5" in co-pay but they can't be very many, because all I EVER hear about from my father is how poor the veterans are and how ungrateful it is that America treats them this way after everything they've sacrificed, how their legacies are being stolen from them by government programs attempting to collect "reimbersment" when they don't really help much at all in the first place.

So I can't imagine that those few who could afford the ... reassignment of funds? could have made much of a difference in the budget.

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Synova said...


I don't dispute that we need to do better and we need to do more. Veterans hospitals are notorious for not being as good as they could be, or funded as well as they should be.

But that wasn't the charge. The charge is that Bush so despises the military that he does everything he can to... "cut benefits to those who have served their country in the past, as well as those serving today."

But the only "cut" I've heard about in any specifics was some budget shuffling that sounded to me like means testing for a co-pay and I don't remember where it was the money saved was supposed to go to, but who's to say it wasn't needed worse there than for perscriptions. Using funds in the most effective way is a *good* thing.

So I want specifics... not that the VA needs more money, that's a given. Not that there aren't failures in particular areas or paper-work snafus that cause terrible hardships for some individuals, we know that.

If someone wants to claim that Bush has shown, through his actions, that he hates the military and veterans by doing everything he can do to cut programs, I want some specifics to show that he's actually done something.

About the time I separated (under Clinton) they were busy cutting benifits for dependants, as if this was an extra unearned treat instead of an important part of my earned compensation.

So, please, show me what Bush has actually *cut*. I'm willing to be informed and willing to listen.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger 74 said...

Rhiannon, I'm the only one so far in this thread that has pointed to real documentation to support an allegation, and you say you can't take it "on faith"? Admittedly, the microfiche copy is poor, but that was the technology of the day. John Kerry's records look the same, but I have yet to hear anyone claim they are no good because they are unreadable or that they could be "anyone's, or no one's". Perhaps I'm better at reading them because of all the time I spend at the National Archives poring over old census records. Although not 100% legable, its mostly readable to me including GW's service number. This same number is on other documents pertaining to his service. As to authenticity, I guess if one is prone to conspiracy theories, then everything is suspect. I'm probably some VRWC agent in Karl Rove's pay to some people.

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Ok, Synova, I’ll try this again (blogger ate the first one):

“The GOP budget resolution contained reconciliation orders requiring the House Veterans' Affairs (VA) Committee to cut benefits or to tax veterans by increasing their fees. Over five years, the Republican budget resolution will cut almost $16 billion from veterans' medical assistance.”

“A push by Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs committee Steven Buyer, R-Ind., would redefine "veteran" to only those who were in the military and are now disabled and indigent, which would take away the VA benefits of 2.5 million people”

“President Bush's proposed 2006 budget would:
• Drastically cut financial support for up to 80 percent of the veterans in the nation's 129 state-run homes.
• Let the VA reduce the number of nursing-home beds from the 13,391 required by law.
• Put a hold on $104 million in grants slated to rehabilitate and build new state veterans homes.”

“The new budget calls for a reduction of $351 million in the VA's nursing home program as well as $104 million in state grants. This translates to 28,000 fewer funded veterans in state institutions in FY 2006 than in FY 2005.”,1413,200~24781~2820121,00.html

Fair Enough?

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

Synova: I don't think Bush hates the military anymore than a carpenter hates his hammer.

And I know nothing about whether or not he is *actively* working against them and stripping them of their benefits *I know my father has complained more since Bush gained office* My only objection was to the ideal that our veterans can afford more of a burden than we already place on them.

It's NOT proof, but surely The Army Times knows something about what's going on, right? Take it or leave it, that's the best I can do.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Rhiannon said...

74: "Although not 100% legable, its mostly readable to me including GW's service number."

You can read that barely visable print where his service number *should* be? The best I can make out is the last 5-digits ...44754... hmph... what are those 1st 2... H9? 1-9? 1-0? H0... I9... I0? Hell, I've zoomed in to 400% and there's STILL no telling. Plus, even if I COULD read it, I have NO IDEA what his service number was. But hey if I stare long enough I can almost make those first scribbles look like Bush, George W... but where's the JR??? course it also looks like Such, Cluck IV... hehehe

Anyways, it's not like I care if this is Bush's or not, or if he actually served or wussed out. I wouldn't care if he'd been a draft dodger or deterror... doesn't make one whit of difference to me. I just don't like being presented with questionable looking "proof". Least you could have done was put a disclaimer noting the *poor* quality it was in.

*I would have the same objection were this presented as Kerry's service record or Bob Dole's peanutbutter stash record.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger dadmanly said...

All (or at least mostly),

Please move on to something else. The level of discussion on this one has moved into the realm of the infantile. Can we remember the purpose of Debate Space?

At 7:40 PM, Blogger Synova said...

"Partisanship aside, as a grown man and as a soldier, do you really believe that Kerry recommended himself for his awards? This has never been proven."

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about the military and about how certain parts of it function. I've got no problem believing that Kerry put himself forward and angled for awards simply because it's not an unusual thing to do and I've known (and served with) people who most certainly brought their every good deed to the attention of those above them. Dadmanly has mentioned "gaming the system". Everyone does, at least a little bit. Some people are better than others at figuring out the rules of the game, but it's no huge blight on a person's reputation if they happen to be good at it. (Unless that's the *only* thing they're good at, of course.)

There are differences between services, but I doubt greatly that the Navy is that much different from my own experience.

So why was it a big deal if it's not a big deal? Because the Kerry campaign made a big deal of the man's heroic service.

(Is it too snarky for this board to point out that Kerry never did actually release all of his military records?)

At 7:29 AM, Blogger The Liberal Avenger said...

Is it too snarky for this board to point out that Kerry never did actually release all of his military records?

No, it isn't.

Every time I see that on somebody's blog, I think, "Who cares?"

He lost - you guys won...

This points to a problem with "Pop Conservatism," I think. The problem is that you guys never give up. The "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" never lets go... Henry Cisneros lied in 1992 about how much money he gave to his mistress. In 1999 he plead guilty to doing this and paid a fine... It's now 2005 and "the movement" is still after him.

Bill Clinton has been out of office for more than a term now. You folks aren't ever going to let him off the hook, are you?

Al Gore - NOT an ill-tempered or bad man by any means. He poses no threat to anyone yet conservatives continue to go out of their way to give him the beatdown.

Liberals are responsible for a lot of things, but one thing we do not do as a movement is haunt our political opposition to the grave.

At 6:03 PM, Blogger Synova said...

I sorta liked Al Gore when he was running for president. I had no preference for Bush at all.

And yes, failing to let things go is a just charge and maybe people ought to let go sooner and more often.

I was only thinking of Kerry's not releasing all of his records because you'd mentioned that his self-promotion hadn't been proven. If one point is relevant, so is the other.

Did what I said about playing the game make sense, though?


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