September 14, 2004


The Nationís David Corn revisits a George W. Bush military service exaggeration:

In 1978, Bush, while running for Congress in West Texas, produced campaign literature that claimed he had served in the US Air Force. According to a 1999 Associated Press report, Bush's congressional campaign ran a pullout ad in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that declared he had served "in the US Air Force and the Texas Air National Guard where he piloted the F-102 aircraft."

Bush lost that congressional race, but twenty-one years later, the AP questioned him about the ad. The news outlet had a good reason to do so. Bush had never served in the Air Force. He had only been in the Air National Guard. But when AP asked Bush if he had been justified in claiming service in the Air Force, Bush, then the governor of Texas and a presidential candidate, said, "I think so, yes. I was in the Air Force for over 600 days." Karen Hughes, his spokeswoman, maintained that when Bush attended flight school for the Air National Guard from 1968 to 1969 he was considered to be on active duty for the Air Force and that several times afterward he had been placed on alert, which also qualified as active duty for the Air Force. All told, she said, Bush had logged 607 days of training and alerts. "As an officer [in the Air National Guard]," she told the AP, "he was serving on active duty in the Air Force."

But this explanation was wrong. Says who? The Air Force.

Seems legit. Wonít do Bush much damage, however, unless he suddenly starts claiming to have flown into Cambodia.

Posted by Tim Blair at September 14, 2004 01:10 AM

I see the Dems have been flooding the link to the "Unfit for Command" book.

153 people recommended The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation's Future in addition to Unfit for Command: Swift Boat

223 people recommended Reading Mastery II: Storybook 2, Rainbow Edition instead of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry

Which, I'll admit, made me laugh. It doesn't seem to be helping them though: Sales Rank: 1
Posted by: Clem Snide at September 14, 2004 at 01:22 AM

If I meet anyone not cashing Democrat National Committee paychecks who thinks there is a difference that makes a difference between flying F-102A's full time for the US Air Force and flying F-102A's full time for the Air National Guard, I will let you know.

Posted by: R C Dean at September 14, 2004 at 01:30 AM

"Says who? The Air Force."

Er, not quite. The AP seems to have gotten it wrong or spoken to someone in the Pentagon who got it wrong.

I refer you to the definitions section of this military website.

"Active Duty
An employment status of the United States Air Force personnel that states the member was Regular Air Force, or Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve in training or on duty."

When Bush was in the Air Force Reserve in training or on duty, he was considered United States Air Force personnel on active duty.

Posted by: Gerry at September 14, 2004 at 01:34 AM

Also notice on the same page, the definition of the term "Date Active Duty":

"The date a person entered the Air Force."

Since active duty extended to those who were in the Reserve on training or on duty, and the date active duty is the date a person entered the Air Force, those who were in the Reserve on training or on duty had entered the Air Force.

Posted by: Gerry at September 14, 2004 at 01:37 AM

I went through basic with Guardsmen, I train with Guardsmen, and I work daily with Guardsmen. They are indistinguishable from Active Duty folks like myself; I feel that this whole kerfluffle demeans ALL of them.

Posted by: DemEnTEd at September 14, 2004 at 02:04 AM

All Guard officers hold Reserve commissions in their respective services. It's explicitly stated in their orders of commission.

George Bush served in the Air Force on exactly the same terms John Kerry served in the Navy.

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 14, 2004 at 02:06 AM

Let us grant them everything.

Bush was a wastrel son, pulled strings, screwed the Air National Guard on his service, drank to excess, may well have snorted some powder, possibly-- I remind you this is Texas-- even had a lap dance or two in his day, and last but not least, got bailed out of 10 or 12 failed businesses because of who his daddy was. All in all, not an admirable character, judged by life up to a very short time ago, not the first guy you'd pick to be president based on achievement.

Now then. Walk into the voting booth. You have this rich kid loser, and you have Kerry. And you know that September 11th was merely prelude to the horrors they want to inflict next. Who will save your life? The guy who is already trying to remake the middle east as something less horrible-- or the guy who promises to prosecute your killers?

Dear David Corn, Terry McAuliffe, Susan Estrich, et al.: nothing you can say AGAINST Bush will make me vote FOR Kerry. Only a better plan would make me vote FOR Kerry. Is that really that hard? Apparently.

Posted by: Mike G at September 14, 2004 at 02:09 AM

I guess it's game, set, match for the Democrats. Who could vote for Bush after seeing a minor discrepency in 25 year old campaign literature?

Are these guys getting desperate or what?

Posted by: Randal Robinson at September 14, 2004 at 02:10 AM

I wonder what we're going to be told next, aside from Kitty Kelly's current dishing?

I wouldn't be surprised to read:

Bush cheated on an exam in high school. The guy who gave Bush the answers has just come forward. This exam was *vital* to obtaining his HS diploma. Thus, his HS diploma and ALL subsequent degrees based on having a HS diploma are now in question.

Bush bombed Mexico while in TANG. Wiped out an entire town. It was hushed up because of Bush's connections. Documents pertaining to this incident were just uncovered, along with secret recordings. (More on this breaking story on the news at 11:00.)

Bush said a 'bad word' to Jane Doe in 8th grade. She's had nightmares ever since and has never held a steady job because of this trauma. She has been in and out of jail because she's been forced to resort to crime to feed herself and her 12 kids. She says her life of crime is ALL Bush's fault and she intends to provide details about 'Bully Bush' in her soon to be released new book.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at September 14, 2004 at 02:12 AM

Not that it matters, but the "journalist" got the clincher wrong. When Reservists & Guardsmen go to basic training & technical school(i.e. flight school), they go with and are active duty in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, etc. and are under that branch's command. Not every jounalist is a moron, but every moron seems to be a jounalist.

Posted by: paul at September 14, 2004 at 02:43 AM

The ANG is a "separate reserve component of the US Air Force," according to the ANG's web site. And the US Supreme Court.

This is actually a hangover from some obscure constitutional issues. The TANG is an organized militia of the state of Texas. The problem is that the president can, according to the constitution, only call out the militia to suppress insurrection and repel invasion. Sending them off to Iraq or Canada is more problematic.

During WWI the status of militia units caused the NG units to be broken up as their members were individually drafted into the US armed forces so they could be sent outside the US to oppress the Hun. This was unpopular with the NG units, so after WWI a dual-enlistment system was set up, in which people who joined the state NG simulatenously joined the federal NG. Two separate organizations with overlapping membership. When federalized NG members cease to be members of the state militia and become members of the US armed forces, and can thus become Imperialist Death Beasts and sent overseas to serve their corporate masters.

This is discussed in a Supreme Court case, Perpich v. Department of Defense, here:

Posted by: Ernst Blofeld at September 14, 2004 at 02:50 AM

Give the millions of current and former National Guardsmen in this country, is it really a smart strategy by the Dems to continually state that NG service isn't "real" service, or in the case of the Vietnam years, is "shirking"?

If I was a Republican strategist or Bush-supporting 527, I'd put out a bunch of ads saying, "National Guard vets, here's what John Kerry and his party think of you", followed by lotsa quotes.

Posted by: Dave S. at September 14, 2004 at 03:00 AM

Ernst has the right of it. Bush was in the Air Force, while still a member of the TANG. All personnel in the Guard (Army and Air) are "dual serving", in either Title 10 or Title 32 status. As a former Army Guard officer, I've been on both sides of the fence myself.

If in doubt, check out the uniforms of the personnel in the Reserves, Guard, or Active Duty. The left name tape says "US ARMY" or "US AIR FORCE", regardless of where they serve; you can't easily tell the difference.

But y'know, this petty harping is getting ridiculous. I thought that the DNC wanted to address the real issues. Shows how long their attention stays focused on a real problem, huh?

Posted by: The Real JeffS at September 14, 2004 at 04:27 AM

First hit on Googling for "national guard air force" gives this site:

"Although the Air National Guard was not established as a separate component of the U.S. Air Force until 1947,..."

Posted by: Jan Haugland at September 14, 2004 at 06:13 AM

Your commenters have pretty much straightened out the 'Pentagon spokesman' and the AP. Based on all my years in the ANG, lots of it on active duty, the ANG is a part of USAF. All of a Guardsman's 'Active Duty' is ordered under Title 10 (various numbered sub-sections). The various reservists are refered to officially as (for example) Sgt, ANGUS, or Sgt, AFRes, instead of Sgt. USAF. But there is little other difference, it's all Title 10 active duty, the reservists become directly USAF (instead of indirectly), are governed by all USAF regulations and by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), pay and allowances and perks are the same.

Bush was in the Air Force while on active duty in pilot training and while sitting on 5 (or 15) minute interceptor alert in the TANG. He worked for and took orders from USAF. These matters are just esoteric enough that confusion can result - as we have seen.

Posted by: Gerry (other one) at September 14, 2004 at 09:42 AM

Yes he was.

This is a sign of a Democratic Party in a tailspin. Where is the research? What the fuck is going on over at the DNC?

Posted by: Kerry Is Unelectable at September 14, 2004 at 11:23 AM

As the commentors above pointed out, essentially the National Guard is just one of the two "Reserve Components" of the US Army/US Air Force. The other is the US Army/US Air Force Reserve. (There is no such animal as a Navy or Marine Corps "Guard", only a Naval and USMC Reserve). The Air Guard is a heritage of the pre-1947 US Army (before the USAF split off from the Army to become a separate service).

The Guard system is a heritage of the old state militia system. A regular US military officer takes his oath of office promising to obey the orders of the President and all the officers appointed above him. A Guard officer has the governor of his state added to this oath.

I suspect most high-ranking regular US military officers feel that the "dual reserve" system is inefficient (particularly for the US Army -- I've seen retired Gen McCaffrey comment on this on TV frequently). But there is basically no political constituency for abolishing the National Guard in its current form.

In fact if any of the Air Guard officers who commented above read this, they will probably laugh at such a notion -- though they will agree that the governor of TX really did not have his own F102 interceptor force in the late 1960's (the logical implication of what David Corn is saying).

But if the US does not substantially increase the current number of regular Army divisions, while at the same time the state Army Guard forces are being called upon for increased homeland security missions -- something will have to give eventually, as the Army Guard cannot sustain their current tempo of overseas deployment and homeland security operations long-term, IMO (particularly if we have more domestic terrorist attacks stateside).

Hopefully a President Kerry can be educated on this nuanced issue (if we are so unfortunate as to have him elected).

Posted by: Paul H. at September 14, 2004 at 12:56 PM

It's "flew", not "flied". Try "Bush Llew, Planes Flew".

Posted by: Rajan R at September 14, 2004 at 03:13 PM

'Horror Brigades of the Islamic Secret Army' ? WTF? "Monty Python" is in Bagdad?
Can anyone invent the most stupid name for a terrorist group?

Posted by: chileau at September 14, 2004 at 11:56 PM