February 11, 2004

BILL HOBBS is saying "I told you so" on the deflated Bush AWOL story. Meanwhile Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics notes that the press is looking bad again:

After watching the absolutely disgraceful performance by reporters at yesterday's White House press briefing, it looks as if we've now fully entered a vortex of insanity.

I didn't see it, but that doesn't surprise me. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

CSPAN has the video archive of the event. You really have to see it to believe it. I've never seen the White House Press Corps so puerile.

John Stewart made a comment on the Daily Show that evening that to really makes the point. "That's great that you have questions for the President and all, but you all are like 8 wars behind the rest of us."

Indeed. Phil Carter, on the other hand, who is more level-headed than many of the Bush critics, is still unsatisfied. I respect Phil, but I wonder (1) why this issue didn't get any traction during the closely contested previous election, when Bush's opponent had access, licit or otherwise, to all the military personnel records; and (2) what the press would have said if the Bush campaign had made similar charges about Al Gore in that election. It also seems to me that Bush's honorable discharge ought to settle this, absent pretty strong evidence of some reason to think that discharge was bogus. (It's like complaining that although someone got an "A" in the course, he didn't study hard enough.) Yet the burden of proof seems, somehow, to have shifted from the accusers to the White House. Again, I think that's not how it would play out if this were Democratic Administration.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Neville Crenshaw emails:

I listened to the press briefing you referenced and was just apalled by the feeding-frenzy arguments thrown out by the press to the Presidents' press secretary. It seemed that all of them were demanding that the White House produce corroborating documents and actual witnesses to the substituted reserve meetings in Alabama.

I have much the same problem. After I was discharged from the Marine Corps n 1970 I joined the U.S. Army Reserve and became a drill instructor in the 80th ivision cadre stationed at the Lieber Reserve Center in Alexandria, Virginia. A small group of us drill instructors formed a traveling instructional unit which visited other reserve units in Virginia and Maryland giving refresher courses on weapons and small unit tactics. Additionally, whenever another unit was scheduled for its annual weapons qualification, we would accompany them to Ft. Holabird, Maryland, or Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia and "run" their ranges to ensure proper safety and qualification certification. In my three years in the Army Reserve I attended weekend drills at my own unit on the first and last weekends of my tour and maybe one other somewhere in between. I spent two weeks each summer working with complete strangers in my own unit and doubt that any individual in any of the other reserve units remembers me at all. The only proof I have of my service in the Reserves is the Discharge certificate and a DD-214 that I obtained from the National Records Center. I only remember one name of a fellow drill instructor and have not the slightest clue where he is today. Based upon my own history I think the questions regarding Bush's attendance could be raised against a much larger group of Reserve veterans than the President. Perhaps all the "hooraah" arises from the fact that none of the idiots asking the question ever served in the military, whether active and/or reserves, and have not the slightest clue of what actually goes on in military units.

Well, you certainly can't say that about Phil Carter, but I've noticed that the military bloggers generally seem quite unimpressed with this as an issue.

MORE: More on this here and here, noting that a lot of, um, reconfiguration of evidence and goal-post-moving is going on among Bush's critics.