Lies My President Told Me
The New York Times weighed in today with an overly cautious analysis of George W. Bush's National Guard duty.
In the New York Time's polite estimation, Bush's stories don't add up. Bush has never provided an adequate explanation for his missed physical and flight suspension in 1972. Bush's payroll records indicate that he didn't serve his required hours, as reported by the New York Times. Furthermore, it is not clear that Bush even showed up for duty on those days for which he was paid.
Sara Rimer writes:
In his 1999 book, A Charge to Keep, Mr. Bush did not mention the missed physical or the suspension. "I was almost finished with my commitment in the Air National Guard," he wrote, "and was no longer flying because the F-102 jet I had trained in was being replaced by a different fighter." In fact, when he missed his physical he had almost two years left in the Guard.
Later, an aide to Mr. Bush explained that he had missed his physical because he was waiting to get examined by his personal physician. But pilots were required to be examined by military doctors.
More recently the White House has said that he did not take the physical because Alabama units were not flying the F-102. But his second application to transfer to Alabama - after the rejected transfer in July - was filed in September 1972, at least two months after he had missed his physical.
Whatever the reason, on Sept. 5, Mr. Bush was notified that he was suspended from flying "for failure to accomplish annual medical examination.
By that time, still without an Alabama unit, he had not attended a required monthly drill for almost five months, according to records released by the White House.
Rimer also notes:
Payroll records released by the White House show that in addition to being paid for attending a drill in Alabama the last weekend in October, Mr. Bush was also paid for a weekend drill after the Blount election, on Nov. 11 and 12, and for meetings on Nov. 13 and 14.
But there are no records from the 187th indicating that Mr. Bush, in fact, appeared on those days in October and November, and more than a dozen members of the unit from that era say they never saw him.
Note one other item. After disappearing from Texas in 1972 and reappearing in Alabama, George W. Bush went to work on the campaign of Winton M. Blount. Blount's campaign accused Democrats of showing "more concern for coddling deserters than for patriotic American young men who have lost their lives in Vietnam." Thirty-two years later, a question lingers: Was Bush himself shirking National Guard duty at the same time he was contributing to a political campaign full of smears about "draft dodgers"?