AWOL Logic

So, all those people who kept harping on Bush being “AWOL” from the National Guard – your crow has been served. Bush’s military records show conclusively that he met all the requirements for a member of the Air National Guard. Furthermore the White House has even released dental records confirming that Bush did serve in Alabama in 1973. Bill Hobbs, who has followed this story closely from the beginning, also has more details and analysis on the story.

This essentially destroys the arguments that Bush was AWOL. What Bush critics willingly ignore is that the Air National Guard is not like the regular military. You do not live on the base and you do not have to attend every single drill. The only way in which an ANG member can be “AWOL” is if they either fail to attend their yearly mandatory drill or if they do not report when mobilized. Bush’s unit was not mobilized, and he attended all his required drills. End of story.

Furthermore, the gap in Bush’s service record where he served no time is easily explained – he left to work on a campaign. Of course he’s not going to leave the campaign trail on a weekend to do paperwork for the ANG. Anyone who has worked an a campaign could understand why Bush did not serve from May 1972 to November 1972 – he was too busy to do so. The Guard is designed so that one can take time out like that – unless Bush’s unit was mobilized there’s nothing exceptional or scandalous about a Guard member taking a few months off for work. The only thing that matters is that they accumulate sufficient service points to meet their obligations to the Guard – which Bush has already proven that he did beyond any doubt.

A fellow member of Bush’s squadron further shows that the arguments against Bush are based on ignorance of ANG procedures. The ARG is not a "disciplinary unit" as Kevin Drum and others have claimed. It is a standard administrative unit for servicemembers who have either been transferred or retired from the service.

Critics still argue that there isn’t anyone who recalled seeing Bush in Alabama. Yet the commander of that unit said that he wouldn’t have remembered Bush anyhow. In a unit of 800 people, it’s not at all surprising that no one would remember a transferree from Texas who happened to be the son of a backbench Congressman with little national reputation.

As Thomas Lipscomb in the Chicago Sun-Times notes the media has done a very poor job of investigating these charges. George magazine covered the issue back in 2000 and found nothing out of sorts about Bush’s record. Unless someone cares to argue that John F. Kennedy, Jr. was a member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, it seems that the air has burst from this story.

As I’ve said before, there is nothing to this story, and the issue is over. Bush was not AWOL, his records prove it, and anyone who attempts to argue otherwise has the credibility of people who think the evil Beta Reticulan Grays are using Major League Baseball satellites to beam bad thoughts into their brain. There’s a time when an argument becomes so asinine it’s not even worth bringing up – and the "Bush was AWOL" argument is now one of them. It has jumped the shark, it has gone belly-up, it’s joined the bleeding choir invisible. It is a dead argument!

Now that this dead horse has been beaten into Elmer’s Glue I expect this whole long sorry affair will be at an end…

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has more links on reactions to this story. It’s clear that those who have served in the military see this as less of an issue than the press, most of whom have no clue on how the ANG operates. He also notes how Colin Powell gave Congressional Democrats a "have you no decency?!" moment over this issue. It’s clear that it’s pointless to reason someone out of something they were never reasoned into, and those who still continue to bring up this issue are looking for anything that justifies their preconceptions about Bush being AWOL in some form of fashion.

Of course, these are the same people for the most part who said Clinton’s military service (or lack thereof) should be out of bounds for discussion…

UPDATE: Mitch Berg has more on this subject, showing how the arguments have been refuted one by one. He also notices this:

I got this, of course, from Power Line, who declare “Case Closed”. In a rational world, that’d be true.

But we’ve never been dealing with the rational on this issue – we’re dealing with Terry MacAuliffe and the moonbat left. Truth may not be a defense as far as the media is concerned.

Case in point; John Roberts, in the press converence on Tuesday when the records were released. I caught the audio on the Laura Ingraham show; it was almost like an SNL bit. He was extemporizing, trying to find SOME angle to spin the story against Bush.

Still, erasing the doubts among those for whom the actual truth matters is important. So here’s hoping.

Reading the comments for this entry, it’s clear that’s exactly what is going on. So far there’s been absolutely no facts presented, just the idea that Bush must have been AWOL even though there’s absolutely no evidence to support that contention. Logicians will note the frequent uses of fallacies of exclusion and slothful inductions.

Of course that hasn’t stopped people from arguing that aliens crashed at Roswell or that Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone, and new “evidence” is continually manufactured to “prove” that the truth isn’t there. However, for those of us who aren’t wearing tinfoil hats, its clear that the evidence points to one singular conclusion that shows that Bush indeed did fulfill his military service.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The Baseball Crank comes up with 14 questions for the AWOL crowd, backed up with several links per point…

11 thoughts on “AWOL Logic

  1. From the article you cite:

    ‘Although Scott McClellan, the White Houses press secretary, the said the documents “clearly show that the president fulfilled his duties,” he would not say, under repeated questioning at a contentious White House briefing that the records definitively prove that Mr. Bush reported for duty on those dates.

    ‘”These documents show the days on which he was paid,” Mr. McClellan said. “That’s what they show.” The president, he said, “does recall showing up and performing his duties.”

    ‘Mr. McClellan could not say why some of Mr. Bush’s commanding officers did not recall his turning up on the dates he was paid, but he suggested they might have forgotten. “We’re talking about 30 years ago,” Mr. McClellan said.’

    Actually, this is some misleading wordplay. That particular performance evaluation was written immediately after the period in question, and I just can’t imagine TWO of Bush’s commanding officers not recognizing the guy if he showed up.

    Also, that piece by Campenni is interesting, if only because a year after Bush left the Texas ANG Campenni was a Captain in the Pennsylvania ANG and described himself as having been fresh out of graduate school at that time in a 2003 article about a skyjacking incident he was involved in (he escorted a DC-9 that was hijacked to Cuba to prevent a 9/11-style crash). Plus, Campenni’s information about drug testing in that letter seems to be incongruous with the record as well. Military pilots first began facing random drug tests in the early 1970s under Air Force Regulations (I’m trying to find the specific regulation for citation purposes, but the only document I’ve seen mentioning it so far is a 1991 report on HIV/AIDS and drug and alcohol testing at MEPS induction centers).

    And Cohen’s op-ed concerning his own Guard duty is at least as credible as the Campenni letter.

    Still, as a (Democratic) voter, none of this crap matters NEARLY as much to me as the record deficit, the situation in Iraq, the lack of comprehensive national health coverage and the outsourcing of jobs.

  2. From the NY Times article you linked to:

    Although Scott McClellan, the White Houses press secretary, the said the documents “clearly show that the president fulfilled his duties,” he would not say, under repeated questioning at a contentious White House briefing that the records definitively prove that Mr. Bush reported for duty on those dates.

    And from the Washington Post:

    Along with President Bush and countless other young men, I joined the National Guard, did my six months of active duty (basic training, etc.) and then returned to my home unit, where I eventually dropped from sight. In the end, just like President Bush, I got an honorable discharge.

    If what I’m eating is crow, then why does it taste so delicious?

  3. And, as USA Today points out, much of this debate as to whether Bush used his daddy’s influence to get into the TANG probably could be cleared up once and for all with one phone call:

    “Two forms in Bush’s publicly released military files — his enlistment application and a background check — contain blacked-out entries in response to questions about arrests or convictions. Bush acknowledged in biographies published in 1999 that he was arrested twice before he enlisted in the Air National Guard: once for stealing a wreath and another time for rowdiness at a Yale-Princeton football game.

    “The nature of what was blacked out in Bush’s records is important because certain legal problems, such as drug or alcohol violations, could have been a basis for denying an applicant entry into the Guard or pilot training. Admission to the Guard and to pilot school was highly competitive at that time, the height of the Vietnam War.

    “The National Guard cited privacy as the reason for blacking out answers. The full, unmarked records have never been released. Bartlett did not respond Wednesday to a request to release the records with nothing blacked out, which Bush could do as the subject of the records.”

    Did he actually report for drills during this period of his service in the Guard; how come only pay and dental records are out, when other forms would show attendance more concretely? How did he get in the Guard; did he get his name moved above the names of other applicants?

    Boy, I’m sure glad you’ve settled this debate and declared the issue over!

  4. maybe Jay meant to say that anyone bringing up this argument again “will be dead”!
    Because really, reading the articles Jay linked to, there’s nothing for sure and there are a few blackholes which could turn out to be very interesting…
    definitely not over! Jay, we all know you worship this guy, but could you at least pretend to be honnest? clearing him up before any serious inquiry is taking place is a bit easy. The evidence presented by the propaganda-officer are nowhere near to convince anyone but you. Of all the things Bush has been criticised, at least some of it has to be true, and I really wouldn’t be surprised it the military thing was one of those…it must suck to go die in vietnam when dad can just sign a form…(In my mind, any congressman’s son would of course try it).


    Look at the evidence. He served his time. He got an honorable discharge. If you’re going to indulge in paranoid conspiracy theories, and least find an interesting one, like how aliens shot JFK or Elvis and Amelia Earhart are alive and working for the CIA…

    The timeline is consistant, the story is consistant, the documentation is clear. Bush was not AWOL. End of story.

    If you have to put on your tinfoil hats, but bringing this subject up when it’s been entirely disproven makes you look dumb.

  6. Jay,

    You gotta relax, man. These people have a lot invested in this story – this sort of bilge is their only real “hope” for November.

    My theory -in the face of a reality that just isnt’ stacking up for them (Iraq is being won, Afghanistan is coming around, the economy is improving at a healthy clip, they’re stuck with their weakest nominee-presumptive since Dukakis, andthe new alternative media are increasingly breaking their stranglehold on opinion-making), they have to resort to Goebbels – repeat the Big Lies (Iraq is a Quagmire, WMDs were the only rationale for war, there are 135,000 moderate moslem troops that could do the job in Iraq better than we can, Bush was AWOL), hoping there are enough mush-headed troglodytes left in this world that can keep them in power.

  7. Jay,
    so only you can decide when a topic is closed or not? For your information, three persons made comments just above your message. Maybe you should read other posts than yours (and those you already agree on).

    It seems that we have been looking at the evidences, and that it doesn’t look so obvious that Bush was clean. When you say that prestigious newspapers have found nothing, this is untrue. You provided a link. We commented on it. We just don’t get to the same conclusions…(that, one could have guess).

    now that I think about it, you know what you can do? close the posts!!(you’re the king of this territory or not?). You consider the issue cleared? Clear it up! Close the comment section! Get your views accepted! It doesn’t matter if it’s not democratic as long as it is efficient, right?

  8. so only you can decide when a topic is closed or not?

    Look at who has their name on the masthead…

    I did. there’s nothing to them.

    It seems that we have been looking at the evidences, and that it doesn’t look so obvious that Bush was clean.

    The fuck it doesn’t. We have his pay records. We have proof he was on the base at the time. We have his discharge records. At that point it becomes pretty damn clear that he was there when he said he was.

    If Bush was AWOL – prove it. Show one piece of real documentation that shows that Bush didn’t show up. Show one piece of solid evidence that proves that conclusion.

    The reason this hasn’t been done in the 4 years this issue has been around is because there is no such evidence. It doesn’t exist because Bush did serve as he was required to.

    If this were a court case, it would be over in a second. It wouldn’t even pass a grand jury. It’s over, and anyone familiar with the evidence can only draw that singular conclusion.

    If you want to continue to discuss this, fine. However you’re simply lying at this point, and you can take your lies somewhere else. The case is closed.

  9. “The timeline is consistant, the story is consistant, the documentation is clear. ”

    Actually, Jay, those pay records pretty much screw up the timeline you’re so happy to harp about.

    From the WaPo:

    “The documents include payroll sheets never before made public. Summaries prepared by the Defense Financing Accounting Service indicate that Bush was paid for service in October and November 1972 and in January and April 1973. That spans a period — from May 1972 to May 1973 — when Bush was assigned to Guard units in Alabama and Houston and that has been the focus of Democratic critics.

    “But the records — which McClellan said are all the documents that the White House has — do not show the exact nature or whereabouts of Bush’s service during that period. Military experts — including one cited by the White House — said such records should exist.

    “In addition, according to the new documents, Bush was performing service or unit drills at a time when his commanding officers in Houston said they could not evaluate him because “he has not been observed” at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston — as they had written in previously released National Guard records. That report was signed by two officers on May 2, 1973, a day that the new documents show Bush was supposed to have been performing service in Houston. ”

    So, if the timeline is consistent, how is it that Lt. Bush–while presumably down the hall from his commanding officers and signed in on the unit roster the day that report was written–never bothered to just wwalk in to his C/O’s office and say “hi, I’m here?” How come that evaluation signed by two officers in the US military shows that those pay records have Bush getting paid on THE VERY DAY of the evaluation being written? Moreover, I can’t remember from my short period of service a time when, officer or enlisted, a soldier that was present and being evaluated did not have a chance to see the C/O.

    This could all be cleared up by Scott McClellan, if he’d just learn to answer a question. His incompetence is making the situation worse. The lack of records that show the nature and location of Bush’s service aren’t being presented. Instead, we know that he had a dental exam. Jay, declare the case closed all you want, but the US media and the US Congress sure as hell won’t, and this issue will remain out there until we see the records that exonerate the President. DD 214: where’s his?

  10. JR: Because “not observed” does not mean “not there”. In military terms, it means “I have no basis for evaluation on this topic”. (See here) Considering that Bush was a pilot who couldn’t fly because the Alabama base didn’t have the F-102, this isn’t surprising.

    Of course, all the Washington Post would have had to do is ask someone familiar with Guard terminology and they could clear that issue up in a few minutes, which only shows why the media isn’t doing their job on this issue.

  11. Incorrect, Jay. These guys were not just evaluating his flight performance. This is an evaluation of his performance as a member of the ANG, not just as a pilot. He was also supposedly there that day, and would have asked that a statement offering a clarification be inserted.

    “Of course he’s not going to leave the campaign trail on a weekend to do paperwork for the ANG.”

    ~And he sure as hell wasn’t going to spend the last year of his committment doing Guard work on the weekends instead of, um, graduate school classes that were held on weekdays? Wow, that’s a pretty shitty excuse for cutting time-in-service short. How is one weekend a month going to cut into his time in graduate school?

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