Tuesday, January 27th, 2004
You Say Deserter, I Say More Dessert… by Michael Moore
I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a “deserter.” What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants. In fact, he “shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.”
Actually, what I meant to say up in New Hampshire last week was that “We’re going to have Bush for dessert come November!” I’m always mixing up “dessert” and “desert” — I’m sure many of you have that problem.
Well, well, well. As George W. would say, “It’s time to smoke ‘em out of their hole!” Thanks to my “humorous” introduction of Wesley Clark 10 days ago in New Hampshire — and the lughead way the no-sense-of-humor media has covered it — there were 15 million hits this weekend on my website. Everyone who visited the site got to read the truth about Bush not showing up for National Guard duty.
The weird thing about all this is that during my routine I never went into any details about Bush skipping out while in the Guard (it’s not like it’s the biggest issue on my mind or facing America these days!) I was just attempting my best impersonation of that announcer guy for the World Wrestling Federation, asking the cheering crowd if they would like to see a smackdown (“debate”) which I called “The Generaaal Versus The Deserterrrr!!” (You can watch it here — hardly anyone in the media has shown this clip because viewers would suddenly see the context of my comments.)
When the press heard me use that word “deserter,” though, the bells and whistles went off, for this was one of those stories they knew they had ignored — and now it was rearing its ugly, truthful head on a very public stage. Without a single other word from me other than the d-word, they immediately got so defensive that it looked to many viewers like they—the press—maybe had something to hide. After all, when I called Bush a deserter, how did they know I wasn’t referring to how he has deserted the 43 million Americans who have no health coverage? Why didn’t they assume I was talking about how Bush is a deserter because he has deserted the working people of this country (who have lost 3 million jobs since he’s taken office)? Why wasn’t it obvious to them that I was pointing out how Bush had deserted our constitution and Bill of Rights as he tries to limit freedom of speech and privacy rights for law-abiding citizens?
Instead, they have created the brouhaha over Bush’s military record, often without telling their audience what the exact charges are. It seems all they want to do is to get Clark or me — or you — to shut up. “We have never investigated this and so we want you to apologize for bringing it up!” Ha ha ha.
Well, I’m glad they have gone nuts over it. Because here we have a Commander in Chief –who just took off while in uniform to go work for some Republican friend of his dad’s — now sending our kids over to Iraq to die while billions are promised to Halliburton and the oil companies. Twenty percent of them are National Guard and Reserves (and that number is expected to double during the year). They have been kept in Iraq much longer than promised, and they have not been given the proper protection. They are sitting ducks.
What if any of them chose to do what Bush did back in the early 70s — just not show up? I’ve seen Republican defenders of Bush this week say, “Yeah, but he made up the time later.” So, can today’s National Guardsmen do the same thing — just say, when called up to go to Iraq, “Um, I’m not going to show up, I’ll make up the time later!”? Can you imagine what would happen? Of course, none of them are the son of a Congressman, like young Lt. Bush was back in 1972.
Today, MoveOn.org has put together its response to this issue, and I would love to reprint it here. It lays out all the facts about Bush and the remaining unanswered questions about where he went for many, many months:
Here are what appear to be the known facts, laid out recently in considerable detail and documentation by retired pilot and Air National Guard First Lt. Robert A. Rogers, and in a 2003 book, “The Lies of George W. Bush,” by David Corn.
1. George W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1968 when the war in Vietnam was at its most deadly and the military draft was in effect. Like many of his social class and age, he sought to enter the National Guard, which made Vietnam service unlikely, and fulfill his military obligation. Competition for slots was intense; there was a long waiting list. Bush took the Air Force officer and pilot qualification tests on Jan. 17, 1968, and scored the lowest allowed passing grade on the pilot aptitude portion.
2. He, nevertheless, was sworn in on May 27, 1968, for a six-year commitment. After a few weeks of basic training, Bush received an appointment as a second lieutenant – a rank usually reserved for those completing four years of ROTC or 18 months active duty service. Bush then went to flight school and trained on the F-102 interceptor fighter jet. Fighter pilots were in great demand in Vietnam at the time, but Bush wound up serving as a “weekend warrior” in Houston, where his father’s congressional district was centered.
A Houston Chronicle story published in 1994, quoted in Corn’s book, has Bush saying: “I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes.”
3. Sometime after May 1971, young Lt. Bush stopped participating regularly in Guard activities. According to Texas Air National Guard records, he had fewer than the required flight duty days and was short of the minimum service owed the Guard. Records indicate that Bush never flew after May 1972, despite his expensive training and even though he still owed the National Guard two more years.
4. On May 24, 1972, Bush asked to be transferred to an inactive reserve unit in Alabama, where he also would be working on a Republican senate candidate’s campaign. The request was denied. For months, Bush apparently put in no time at all in Guard service. In August 1972, Bush was grounded — suspended from flying duties — for failing to submit to an annual physical exam. (Why wouldn’t he take this exam from a doctor?)
5. During his 2000 presidential campaign, Bush’s staff said he recalled doing duty in Alabama and then returning to Houston for still more duty. But the commander of the Montgomery, AL, unit where Bush said he served told the Boston Globe that he had no recollection of Bush – son of a congressman – ever reporting, nor are there records, as there should be, supporting Bush’s claim. Asked at a press conference in Alabama on June 23, 2000 what duties he had performed as a Guardsman in that state, Bush said he could not recall, “but I was there.”
6. In May, June and July, 1973, Bush suddenly started participating in Guard activities back in Houston again – pulling 36 days at Ellington Air Base in that short period. On Oct. 1, 1973, eight months short of his six-year service obligation and scheduled discharge, Bush apparently was discharged with honors from the Texas Air National Guard (eight months short of his six-year commitment). He then went to Harvard Business School.
Documents supporting these reports, released under Freedom of Information Act requests, appear along with Rogers’ article on the web at http://democrats.com/display.cfm?id=154.
In the absence of full disclosure by the President or his supporters, only the President and perhaps a few family or other close associates know the whole truth. And they’re not talking.
Bush was apparently absent without official leave from his assigned military service for as little as seven months (New York Times) or as much as 17 months (Boston Globe) during a time when 500,000 American troops were fighting the Vietnam War. The Army defines a “deserter” — also known as a DFR, for “dropped from rolls” – as one who is AWOL 31 days or more: www-ari.army.mil/pdf/s51.pdf.
Well, there you have it. Someone got some special treatment. And now that special someone believes he has the right to conduct a war — using other not-so-special people’s lives.
My friends, I always call it like I see it. I don’t pussyfoot around. Sometimes the truth is hard to take. The media conglomerates are too afraid to take this on. I understand. But I’m not. That’s my job. And I’ll continue to do it.
And when I’m wrong, like the thing about Bush pooping his pants, I’ll say so.