Tuesday's must-reads

By Geraldine Sealey
Published February 10, 2004 7:41PM (UTC)
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New Bush guard service docs, old questions
The Boston Globe reports on two newly obtained documents showing President Bush "received credit for attending Air National Guard drills in the fall of 1972 and spring of 1973, a period when his commanders have said he did not appear for duty at bases in Montgomery, Ala., and Houston." The personnel records are the first evidence that Bush appeared for any duty during the first 11 months of that 12-month period.

"But the documents seem unlikely to resolve questions about whether Bush shirked his duty during his tour as a fighter-interceptor pilot for the Texas Air Guard during the Vietnam War. That is because some of the dates on the service list fell during a period in the fall of 1972 when Bush was reassigned to a guard unit in Alabama. The commander of the Alabama unit has said Bush did not appear for duty at his assigned unit there."

The Globe obtained both of the documents from Bob Fertik, cofounder of Democrats.com, a website that has no formal affiliation with the Democratic Party, which features an image of the records on its home page.

Cohen: Time to grow up
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen admits that if Bush was a "deserter," from the National Guard, so was he. Like Bush, Cohen joined the Guard during the Vietnam War, did six months of basic training and other active duties, then returned to his home unit, where he "eventually dropped from sight. In the end, just like President Bush, I got an honorable discharge. But unlike President Bush, I have just told the truth about my service. He hasn't."

It's time for Bush to get real about what Guard service meant during the Vietnam era, especially for the privileged, Cohen says. "I have no shame about my service, but I know it for what it was -- hardly the Charge of the Light Brigade. When Bush attempts to drape the flag of today's Guard over the one he was in so long ago, when he warns his critics to remember that 'there are a lot of really fine people who have served in the National Guard and who are serving in the National Guard today in Iraq,' then he is doing now what he was doing then: hiding behind the ones who were really doing the fighting. It's about time he grew up."

Bush-Cheney plans to 'Bring it on'
Republicans will target John Kerry's votes in the Senate to cut defense and intelligence spending and oppose the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Los Angeles Times reports. In comments on the Bush campaign Web site, manager Ken Mehlman said the GOP goal would be to undercut Kerry's credentials and credibility on national security issues.

"If Republicans want to talk about national security, Kerry tells crowds, he has a ready reply: 'Bring it on!' It appears that the Republicans will do just that -- albeit carefully. 'We honor Sen. Kerry's patriotic service during the Vietnam War,' Mehlman said in an 'online chat' with Bush supporters. 'Yet we question the judgments of his votes to consistently cut defense and intelligence funding, his vote against the first Gulf War, and his recently stated belief that the war on terror is primarily about law enforcement and intelligence.'"

9/11 commission may subpoena White House
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has warned the White House it could face a politically damaging subpoena if it refuses to turn over information from the highly classified Oval Office intelligence reports given to President Bush before 9/11,
The New York Times reports. Negotiations over the release of the President's Daily Brief went into the evening Monday between the commission and White House counsel, and the commission hoped to have a resolution by today. If no agreement is reached, the commission could issue a subpoena, which may be risky for Bush in an election year. "A subpoena to the White House could be politically damaging to Mr. Bush, because it would allow his Democratic opponents to suggest he was stonewalling the panel, and because it would raise the prospect of an extended election-year court fight between the commission and the White House."

Antiwar protesters subpoenaed
The Times also looks at an antiwar protesters being subpoenaed in a federal investigation launched "to learn more about one person who had tried to scale a security fence at an Iowa National Guard base in a protest a day after the forum."

The antiwar protesters say their forum last fall involved discussions of the nonviolent philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and how best to convey their feelings about Iraq into acts of civil disobedience. "But last week, subpoenas began arriving seeking details about the forum's sponsor -- its leadership list, its annual reports, its office location -- and the event itself. On Monday, lawyers for the sponsor, the Drake University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, went to court in an effort to block the federal prosecutors' demands."

Meet the Limbaughs of the Left
The New Republic takes stock of liberal talk radio, which is poised to offer lefties nationwide a refuge on the airwaves from the likes of Rush Limbaugh. Left-winger Randi Rhodes, for example, has the highest-rated program in the West Palm Beach, Fla., afternoon drive-time slot, with even Rush Limbaugh, whose show immediately precedes hers on the station WJNO.

"And it's likely that Rhodes's anti-Bush brief will soon reach audiences well beyond Palm Beach. In the past year, two groups have formed to develop national liberal talk shows--and both are interested in Rhodes. One, a nonprofit outfit called Democracy Radio, wants to syndicate Rhodes's show across the country. The other, a for-profit venture called Progress Media, is creating a national liberal talk radio network and is considering Rhodes for its lineup. Either way, Rhodes hopes that, sometime in the next few months, listeners from New York to Los Angeles will be able to hear her smoky, Brooklyn-accented voice rail against the president," TNR writes.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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