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Old 05-06-2003, 08:50 PM   #1
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"This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial,"

Iraq: The Aftermath

Posted on Tue, May. 06, 2003

Byrd Rips Bush's Aircraft Carrier Use
KEN GUGGENHEIM
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Questioning the motives of a "desk-bound president who assumes the garb of a warrior," Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd on Tuesday reproached President Bush for flying onto an aircraft carrier last week to declare an end of major fighting in Iraq.

"I am loath to think of an aircraft carrier being used as an advertising backdrop for a presidential political slogan, and yet that is what I saw," Byrd said on the Senate floor.

Byrd, 85, of West Virginia, is the Senate's most senior member and was one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq war.

Dressed in a flight suit, Bush was flown onto the USS Abraham Lincoln on Thursday, his small S-3B Viking jet making a tailhook landing. The ship was near San Diego on its return from action in the Persian Gulf.

With the sea as his backdrop, Bush announced that the United States and its allies had prevailed against Saddam Hussein.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Byrd's criticisms are "a disservice to the men and women of our military who deserved to be thanked in person."

"Senator Byrd did not support the president at the beginning of this, and it is no surprise that he does not support the president at the end," Fleischer said. "Senator Byrd is a patriot, but on this we disagree."

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California asked the General Accounting Office, Congress's investigative arm, to find out the cost of the president's trip.

The event "had clear political overtones," yet taxpayers footed the bill, wrote Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, to the GAO.

Byrd contrasted the speech with the "simple dignity" of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address during the Civil War.

"I do not begrudge his salute to America's warriors aboard the carrier Lincoln, for they have performed bravely, ... but I do question the motives of a desk-bound president who assumes the garb of a warrior for the purposes of a speech," he said.

He said American blood has been shed defending Bush's policies. "This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial," he said.

"To me, it is an affront to the Americans killed or injured in Iraq for the president to exploit the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech," he said.

Fleischer has rejected any suggestion that the landing was intended to provide campaign footage for Bush's re-election campaign.

Earlier Tuesday, he also said Bush decided to land on the carrier on a jet instead of his usual helicopter because the president wanted "to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing. He wanted to see it as realistically as possible."

Waxman said Fleischer had provided conflicting accounts of the reasons for the president's trip by jet, initially indicating that the carrier would be hundreds of miles offshore, too far from land to be reached by helicopter
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Old 05-06-2003, 09:11 PM   #2
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Re: "This is not some made-for-TV backdrop for a campaign commercial,"

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Byrd's criticisms are "a disservice to the men and women of our military who deserved to be thanked in person."
Sorry but I think its a disservice to the men and women of our military to have Bush pretend to be a soldier when we all know he dodged the draft in the '60s by having his daddy pull some strings and get him in the national guard. If Clinton tried the same thing, the military would call for his head on a stick.

This is similar to something we were talking about earlier about the Republican Party using Sept. 11 as a backdrop for their convention and reelection campaign. It all makes me sick.
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Old 05-06-2003, 10:23 PM   #3
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Klaus posted this in another thread but it fits perfectly here.

NY Times Editorial/OP-Ed May 6, 2003
Man on Horseback
By PAUL KRUGMAN

Gen. Georges Boulanger cut a fine figure; he looked splendid in uniform, and magnificent on horseback. So his handlers made sure that he appeared in uniform, astride a horse, as often as possible.

It worked: Boulanger became immensely popular. If he hadn't lost his nerve on the night of the attempted putsch, French democracy might have ended in 1889.

We do things differently here or we used to. Has "man on horseback" politics come to America?

Some background: the Constitution declares the president commander in chief of the armed forces to make it clear that civilians, not the military, hold ultimate authority. That's why American presidents traditionally make a point of avoiding military affectations. Dwight Eisenhower was a victorious general and John Kennedy a genuine war hero, but while in office neither wore anything that resembled military garb.

Given that history, George Bush's "Top Gun" act aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln c'mon, guys, it wasn't about honoring the troops, it was about showing the president in a flight suit was as scary as it was funny.

Mind you, it was funny. At first the White House claimed the dramatic tail-hook landing was necessary because the carrier was too far out to use a helicopter. In fact, the ship was so close to shore that, according to The Associated Press, administration officials "acknowledged positioning the massive ship to provide the best TV angle for Bush's speech, with the sea as his background instead of the San Diego coastline."

A U.S.-based British journalist told me that he and his colleagues had laughed through the whole scene. If Tony Blair had tried such a stunt, he said, the press would have demanded to know how many hospital beds could have been provided for the cost of the jet fuel.

But U.S. television coverage ranged from respectful to gushing. Nobody pointed out that Mr. Bush was breaking an important tradition. And nobody seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience. (Spare me the hate mail. An exhaustive study by The Boston Globe found no evidence that Mr. Bush fulfilled any of his duties during that missing year. And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news.)

Anyway, it was quite a show. Luckily for Mr. Bush, the frustrating search for Osama bin Laden somehow morphed into a good old-fashioned war, the kind where you seize the enemy's capital and get to declare victory after a cheering crowd pulls down the tyrant's statue. (It wasn't much of a crowd, and American soldiers actually brought down the statue, but it looked great on TV.)

Let me be frank. Why is the failure to find any evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program, or vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons (a few drums don't qualify though we haven't found even that) a big deal? Mainly because it feeds suspicions that the war wasn't waged to eliminate real threats. This suspicion is further fed by the administration's lackadaisical attitude toward those supposed threats once Baghdad fell. For example, Iraq's main nuclear waste dump wasn't secured until a few days ago, by which time it had been thoroughly looted. So was it all about the photo ops?

Well, Mr. Bush got to pose in his flight suit. And given the absence of awkward questions, his handlers surely feel empowered to make even more brazen use of the national security issue in future.

Next year in early September the Republican Party will hold its nominating convention in New York. The party will exploit the time and location to the fullest. How many people will dare question the propriety of the proceedings?

And who will ask why, if the administration is so proud of its response to Sept. 11, it has gone to such lengths to prevent a thorough, independent inquiry into what actually happened? (An independent study commission wasn't created until after the 2002 election, and it has been given little time and a ludicrously tiny budget.)

There was a time when patriotic Americans from both parties would have denounced any president who tried to take political advantage of his role as commander in chief. But that, it seems, was another country.
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Old 05-06-2003, 11:39 PM   #4
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Perhaps Senator Byrd would have been happy if Bush had joined a Klan rally in his state, with white hood and robe of course.

Sharky,

So I guess you have no respect for the men and women who served their country in the National Guard and Reserve during the Vietnam War?

Who do you think most of men and women of the United States military voted for in the 2000 election? Who do you think most of them will be voting for in 2004? Which candidate is most likely to increase their pay, benefits, provide more money for training and of course new weapons and equipment that will save lives on the battlefield?
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Old 05-06-2003, 11:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2

So I guess you have no respect for the men and women who served their country in the National Guard and Reserve during the Vietnam War?

No, that is not what she said. She said Bush, one person, had strings pulled to make certain he did not go to Vietnam. I see no proof of this, but, do not put words in her mouth. She never said anything remotely disrespectful towards reservists.

Have we found Bush's attendance records for the drills yet? Just curioius.

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Old 05-07-2003, 12:56 AM   #6
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Source: George Magazine

The Real Military Record of George W. Bush: Not AWOL

For more than a year, controversy about George W. Bush's Air National Guard record has bubbled through the press. Interest in the topic has spiked in recent days, as at least two websites have launched stories essentially calling Bush AWOL in 1972 and 1973.

For example, in "Finally, the Truth about Bush's Military Record" on TomPaine.com, Marty Heldt writes, "Bush's long absence from the records comes to an end one week after he failed to comply with an order to attend 'Annual Active Duty Training' starting at the end of May 1973... Nothing indicates in the records that he ever made up the time he missed."

And in Bush's Military Record Reveals Grounding and Absence for Two Full Years" on Democrats.com, Robert A. Rogers states: "Bush never actually reported in person for the last two years of his service - in direct violation of two separate written orders."

Neither is correct.

It's time to set the record straight. The following analysis, which relies on National Guard documents, extensive interviews with military officials and previously unpublished evidence of Bush's whereabouts in the summer and fall of 1972, is the first full chronology of Bush's military record. Its basic conclusions: Bush may have received favorable treatment to get into the Guard, served irregularly after the spring of 1972 and got an expedited discharge, but he did accumulate the days of service required of him for his ultimate honorable discharge.

At the Republican convention in Philadelphia, George W. Bush declared: "Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, 'Not ready for duty, sir.'" Bush says he is the candidate who can "rebuild our military and prepare our armed forces for the future." On what direct military experience does he make such claims?

George W. Bush applied to join the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968, less than two weeks before he graduated from Yale University. The country was at war in Vietnam, and at that time, just months after the bloody Tet Offensive, an estimated 100,000 Americans were on waiting lists to join Guard units across the country. Bush was sworn in on the day he applied.

Ben Barnes, former speaker of the Texas House of Representatives, stated in September 1999 that in late 1967 or early 1968, he asked a senior official in the Texas Air National Guard to help Bush get into the Guard as a pilot. Barnes said he did so at the behest of Sidney Adger, a Houston businessman and friend of former President George H. W. Bush, then a Texas congressman.

Despite Barnes's admission, former President Bush has denied pulling strings for his son, and retired Colonel Walter Staudt, George W. Bush's first commander, insists: "There was no special treatment."

The younger Bush fulfilled two years of active duty and completed pilot training in June 1970. During that time and in the two years that followed, Bush flew the F-102, an interceptor jet equipped with heat-seeking missiles that could shoot down enemy planes.

His commanding officers and peers regarded Bush as a competent pilot and enthusiastic Guard member. In March 1970, the Texas Air National Guard issued a press release trumpeting his performance: "Lt. Bush recently became the first Houston pilot to be trained by the 147th [Fighter Group] and to solo in the F-102... Lt. Bush said his father was just as excited and enthusiastic about his solo flight as he was."

In Bush's evaluation for the period May 1, 1971 through April 30, 1972, then-Colonel Bobby Hodges, his commanding officer, stated, "I have personally observed his participation, and without exception, his performance has been noteworthy."

In the spring of 1972, however, National Guard records show a sudden dropoff in Bush's military activity. Though trained as a pilot at considerable government expense, Bush stopped flying in April 1972 and never flew for the Guard again.

Around that time, Bush decided to go to work for Winton "Red" Blount, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, in Alabama. Documents from Ellington Air Force Base in Houston state that Bush "cleared this base on 15 May." Shortly afterward, he applied for assignment to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron in Montgomery, Ala., a unit that required minimal duty and offered no pay.

Although that unit's commander was willing to welcome him, on May 31 higher-ups at the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver rejected Bush's request to serve at the 9921st, because it did not offer duty equivalent to his service in Texas. "[A]n obligated Reservist [in this case, Bush] can be assigned to a specific Ready Reserve position only," noted the disapproval memo, a copy of which was sent to Bush. "Therefore, he is ineligible for assignment to an Air Reserve Squadron."

Despite the military's decision, Bush moved to Alabama. Records obtained by Georegemag.com show that the Blount Senate campaign paid Bush about $900 a month from mid-May through mid-November to do advance work and organize events.

Neither Bush's annual evaluation nor the Air National Guard's overall chronological listing of his service contain any evidence that he performed Guard duties during that summer.

On or around his 27th birthday, July 6, 1972, Bush did not take his required annual medical exam at his Texas unit. As a consequence, he was suspended from flying military jets.

Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett told Georgemag.com: "You take that exam because you are flying, and he was not flying. The paperwork uses the phrase 'suspended from flying,' but he had no intention of flying at that time."

Some media reports have speculated that Bush took and failed his physical, or that he was grounded as a result of substance abuse. Bush's vagueness on the subject of his past drug use has only abetted such rumors. Bush's commanding officer in Texas, however, denies the charges.

"His flying status was suspended because he didn't take the exam,not because he couldn't pass," says Hodges. Asked whether Bush was ever disciplined for using alcohol or illicit drugs, Hodges replied: "No."

On September 5, Bush wrote to then-Colonel Jerry Killian at his original unit in Texas, requesting permission to serve with the 187th Tactical Reconnaisance Group, another Alabama-based unit. "This duty would be for the months of September, October, and November," wrote Bush.

This time his request was approved: 10 days later, the Alabama Guard ordered Bush to report to then-Lieutenant Colonel William Turnipseed at Dannelly Air Force Base in Montgomery on October 7th and 8th. The memo noted that "Lieutenant Bush will not be able to satisfy his flight requirements with our group," since the 187th did not fly F-102s.

The question of whether Bush ever actually served in Alabama has become an issue in the 2000 campaign-the Air Force Times recently reported that "the GOP is trying to locate people who served with Bush in late 1972 ... to see if they can confirm that Bush briefly served with the Alabama Air National Guard."

Bush's records contain no evidence that he reported to Dannelly in October. And in telephone interviews with Georgemag.com, neither Turnipseed, Bush's commanding officer, nor Kenneth Lott, then chief personnel officer of the 187th, remembered Bush serving with their unit. "I don't think he showed up," Turnipseed said.

Bush maintains he did serve in Alabama. "Governor Bush specifically remembers pulling duty in Montgomery and respectfully disagrees with the Colonel," says Bartlett. "There's no question it wasn't memorable, because he wasn't flying."

In July, the Decatur Daily reported that two former Blount campaign workers recall Bush serving in the Alabama Air National Guard in the fall of 1972. "I remember he actually came back to Alabama for about a week to 10 days several weeks after the campaign was over to complete his Guard duty in the state," stated Emily Martin, a former Alabama resident who said she dated Bush during the time he spent in that state.

After the 1972 election, which Blount lost, Bush moved back to Houston and subsequently began working at P.U.L.L., a community service center for disadvantaged youths. This period of time has also become a matter of controversy, because even though Bush's original unit had been placed on alert duty in October 1972, his superiors in Texas lost track of his whereabouts.

On May 2, 1973, Bush's squadron leader in the 147th, Lieutenant Colonel William Harris, Jr. wrote: "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit" for the past year.

Harris incorrectly assumed that Bush had been reporting for duty in Alabama all along. He wrote that Bush "has been performing equivalent training in a non-flying status with the 187 Tac Recon Gp, Dannelly ANG Base, Alabama." Base commander Hodges says of Bush's return to Texas: "All I remember is someone saying he came back and made up his days."

Two documents obtained by Georgemag.com indicate that Bush did make up the time he missed during the summer and autumn of 1972.

One is an April 23, 1973 order for Bush to report to annual active duty training the following month; the other is an Air National Guard statement of days served by Bush that is torn and undated but contains entries that correspond to the first. Taken together, they appear to establish that Bush reported for duty on nine occasions between November 29, 1972-when he could have been in Alabama-and May 24, 1973.

Bush still wasn't flying, but over this span, he did earn nine points of National Guard service from days of active duty and 32 from inactive duty. When added to the 15 so-called "gratuitous" points that every member of the Guard got per year, Bush accumulated 56 points, more than the 50 that he needed by the end of May 1973 to maintain his standing as a Guardsman.

On May 1, Bush was ordered to report for further active duty training, and documents show that he proceeded to cram in another 10 sessions over the next two months.

Ultimately, he racked up 19 active duty points of service and 16 inactive duty points by July 30-which, added to his 15 gratuitous points, achieved the requisite total of 50 for the year ending in May 1974.

On October 1, 1973, First Lieutenant George W. Bush received an early honorable discharge so that he could attend Harvard Business School. He was credited with five years, four months and five days of service toward his six-year service obligation.
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Old 05-07-2003, 01:10 AM   #7
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Dreadsox,

"No, that is not what she said. She said Bush, one person, had strings pulled to make certain he did not go to Vietnam. I see no proof of this, but, do not put words in her mouth. She never said anything remotely disrespectful towards reservists."

I did not say that she indeed said that, I was asking! There is a difference.
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Old 05-07-2003, 10:03 AM   #8
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A commercial? How cynical of you. We all know that Dubya is the quintessential fighter pilot...

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Old 05-07-2003, 10:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
So I guess you have no respect for the men and women who served their country in the National Guard and Reserve during the Vietnam War?
Dread was right. That's not what I said. I have respect for the men and women who service in the Guard and Reserves, many of whom fought in Iraq. But Bush, like Dan Quayle, had people who could pull strings for him to keep him safe in the U.S. while men and women were dying in Vietnam. Maybe you should be asking if Bush had any respect for them. Doesn't pulling strings to get out of supporting soldiers on the field mean you support them or no?

80s -- really interesting article. Thanks for posting that.
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Old 05-07-2003, 11:31 AM   #10
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It wouldn't be good 'ol US politics if a Democrat didn't come out and go , critical of the President.


Just add it to the file.
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Old 05-07-2003, 11:46 AM   #11
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You mean like all the perverted Republican politicians that were more interested in what Clinton did in the hallway next to the Oval Office than what he did in the actual Oval office? At least we're debating war and not blow jobs this time.
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Old 05-07-2003, 11:48 AM   #12
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We are not talking war - we are talking sour grapes over a speech that gave Bush the photo op of the year.

And yes, the goes both ways. I hope we don't get into a "our side's is more significant than your side's " debate.
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Old 05-07-2003, 12:02 PM   #13
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Eh...I'm not in the mood for an argument.
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Old 05-07-2003, 12:11 PM   #14
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Democrat's :blah: about recent Republican presidents: Watergate. Iran Contra. Vote-rigging in Florida.

Republicans's :blah: about Democrats: Blow-jobs.
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Old 05-07-2003, 01:10 PM   #15
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Democrat's :blah: about recent Republican presidents: Watergate. Iran Contra. Vote-rigging in Florida.

Republicans's :blah: about Democrats: Blow-jobs.
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