Thursday's must-reads


Geraldine Sealey
February 12, 2004 7:17PM (UTC)

Dental exam released, but nothing more
The Washington Post examines the dental record the White House produced late last night to show President Bush was at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, Ala., on Jan. 6, 1973. This is the first "definitive" evidence Bush was ever at the Alabama base in the period from May 1972 to May 1973. But the White House refuses to release all of Bush's military records, the Post says, despite Bush's weekend pledge to Tim Russert that he would do just that.

"Administration officials confirmed yesterday that the Department of Defense is in the process of pulling together all the president's payroll, personnel and medical records from the National Guard to centralize his file But [Communications director Dan] Bartlett -- like [White House spokesman Scott] McClellan -- was emphatic that the White House had no immediate plans to open Bush's entire file, which would include his Guard medical records. 'These are attempts to troll for personal records for partisan advantage. We're not going to play,' Bartlett said. 'The goal post is being moved.'"

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Of course, as the Dallas Morning News reported yesterday, and as the Post reminds us this morning, the entire story on Bush's Guard duty may never be known. Bill Burkett, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Texas National Guard, says he say some items from Bush's file in the trash after hearing Joe Allbaugh, then Bush's chief of staff, tell an officer in reference to Bush's military file that he "needed to make sure there was nothing to embarrass the governor." (Bush and Allbaugh deny this ever occurred).

Bush's flight suspension should have triggered probe
The Boston Globe reports that "Bush's August 1972 suspension from flight status in the Texas Air National Guard -- triggered by his failure to take a required annual flight physical -- should have prompted an investigation by his commander, a written acknowledgement by Bush, and perhaps a written report to senior Air Force officials, according to Air Force regulations in effect at the time."

"Two retired National Guard generals, in interviews yesterday, said they were surprised that Bush -- or any military pilot -- would forgo a required annual flight physical and take no apparent steps to rectify the problem and return to flying. 'There is no excuse for that. Aviators just don't miss their flight physicals,' said Major General Paul A. Weaver Jr., who retired in 2002 as the Pentagon's director of the Air National Guard, in an interview. Brigadier General David L. McGinnis, a former top aide to the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, said in an interview that Bush's failure to remain on flying status amounts to a violation of the signed pledge by Bush that he would fly for at least five years after he completed flight school in November 1969. 'Failure to take your flight physical is like a failure to show up for duty. It is an obligation you can't blow off,' McGinnis said."

Jane Fonda to Kerry critics: Nice try
GOP critics of John Kerry, eager to find a way to criticize his anti-war activism in the Vietnam era, especially with so many swirling, embarrassing questions about President Bush's own military record, are trying to associate Kerry with "Hanoi" Jane Fonda, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"A 1970 photograph showing Fonda and Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry has surfaced on the Internet and TV news programs, fueling speculation that the GOP may try to make Kerry's anti-Vietnam War record an election issue by linking him with a former antiwar activist still reviled by many veterans. The photo, taken at an antiwar rally in Pennsylvania where Kerry and Fonda gave speeches critical of America's military escalation in Vietnam, was published Wednesday in the Washington Times newspaper and later shown on television. The snapshot, which shows Kerry and Fonda sitting in a large crowd several feet apart, is among several being circulated among Vietnam veterans."

There are just a few, fundamental problems with this line of attack, though: The photo in question was taken two years before Fonda's controversial trip to Hanoi in 1972, Kerry has always spoke out against Fonda's trip anyway, Kerry and Fonda barely knew each other, and Fonda herself calls this current effort to discredit Kerry by associating him with her, "a big lie."

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"Any attempt to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time. I don't even think we shook hands," Fonda said of the 1970 photograph. "This was an organization of men who risked their lives in Vietnam, who considered themselves totally patriotic," she said, referring to Vietnam Veterans Against the War. "So anyone who slams that organization and slams Kerry for being part of it is doing an injustice to veterans. How can you impugn, how can you even suggest, that anyone like Kerry or any of these veterans were not patriotic? He was a hero there."

Prominent conservative devastates Bush's credibility
In the Washington Times, editor at large and prominent conservative Arnaud de Borchgrave assesses the "devastating blow to the credibility of the Bush White House" inflicted by Iraq's nonexistent WMD's. But WMD's were never the reason we went to war in Iraq, anyway, he reminds us. Irrefutable evidence was not the standard of the Bush Administration, because "axis of evil regime change was the lodestar." "When this writer first heard from prominent neoconservatives in April 2002 that war was no longer a question of 'if' but 'when,' the casus belli had little to do with WMDs. The Bush administration, they explained, starkly and simply, had decided to redraw the geopolitical map of the Middle East. The Bush Doctrine of pre-emption had become the vehicle for driving axis of evil practitioners out of power."

" So the leitmotif for Operation Iraqi Freedom was not WMDs, but the freedom of Iraq in the larger context of long-range security for Israel. Mr. Bush is right to change the rationale for war to isn't-the-world-a-better-place-without-Saddam? Of course it is. Was Iraq ever a threat to the U.S. homeland? Of course it wasn't. But hasn't the U.S. occupation of Iraq provided a force multiplier for al Qaeda? Of course it has. And the world is not a more peaceful place than it was before the occupation of Iraq."

Everyone but Kerry, Edwards see ticket
The Boston Globe say Kerry-Edwards may be the Dems' dream-ticket, but the men who would face Bush together this fall don't see it that way.

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"Interviews with both campaigns indicate a Kerry-Edwards ticket is unlikely, and advisers to both men lack the excitement for such a pairing that some voters feel. Several Kerry advisers say the Massachusetts senator is skeptical about Edwards's strength as a running mate, saying he appears to lack the clout with Southern voters that he often brags about being able to deliver. Edwards's inability to win more than a single primary state thus far may give him the aura of a loser in the general election, these Kerry aides said. And Kerry himself recently noted with a touch of derision that, according to opinion polls, President Bush would defeat Edwards in his own home state of North Carolina."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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