The New Republic
NOVEMBER 13, 2000 page 10
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MILITARY READINESS CONT'D: It's no longer news that George W Bush, to avoid being sent to Vietnam, enlisted in the Texas Air National Guard in 1968. Nor is it news that Bush, contrary to assertions in his 1999 campaign autobiography A Charge to Keep, appears not to have honored his commitment to the Guard after moving to Alabama for a period, apparently failing to report for duty there for a full year, between May 1972 and May 1973. (No one who was in the Alabama National Guard at the time recalls encountering Bush; the only person who vouches for him is a former girlfriend, who merely says Bush spoke of doing Guard service in Alabama.) What is news, though, is that the Bush campaign continues to lie about Bush's National Guard service.
"George W Bush served as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968 until 1973;" reads a snippet from the biography posted on the campaign's website. This is demonstrably false on two counts. For one, although Bush began his Guard service in July 1968, he spent his first two years in basic training and flight school and did not begin serving as a pilot with the 111th Fighter- Interceptor Squadron at Houston's Ellington Field until June 1970. Secondly, as has been reported in The Boston Globe and in these pages, after Bush moved from Texas to Alabama in May 1972, he never flew again. Nor could he, because he skipped his annual medical exam in 1972 and was suspended from flying.
What had been assumed is that Bush, upon returning to Texas from Alabama in May 1973, made up for his missed service by performing nonflying duty At least, that's what Bush campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett told reporters in June. But now it seems unlikely that Bush did even that much. According to a report in the October 31 Boston Globe, "a Bush campaign spokesman acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bush's attendance at drills after he returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early release from the Guard in September 1973?" That means Bush probably skipped the final 17 months of his National Guard commitment, a period almost as long as the 22 months he served as an actual pilot. But, then again, in the early '70s W. hadn't yet ushered in "the responsibility era."
Amazing stuff... Excerpt published under the Fair Use doctrine...we encourage you to go out and buy the Nov. 13 issue of the New Republic yourself!