[Minor update 2004-09-19: typos fixed.]
Let’s review, so I can see if I’ve got this straight.
In the early 1970s, the United States government was hellbent on pursuing an immoral and strategically disastrous war in Vietnam–a war that nobody should have fought in, let alone forced to fight in–which, before it was over, killed fifty thousand American soldiers and murdered about 4,000,000 North and South Vietnamese civilians. During the war, many of those who were fortunate enough to be able to flee and defy the draft, or to sidestep it through cushy “military” assignments far away from the fighting, did so–because they didn’t want to participate in a war they considered morally indefensible, or dangerous to their person, or both. One of those people was a young George W. Bush–who , admittedly, supported the war, but, understandably, didn’t much want to fight in it. So he used his fortunate position as the son of a wealthy aristocrat and powerful Texas politico to avoid being shipped off as a slave to fight and possibly die in Vietnam, through the technicality of joining the Texas Air National Guard. That might have made him a hypocrite then; and it certainly makes him contemptible for strutting around in his bomber jacket in Caesarian triumphs today; but it was certainly a perfectly understandable exercise of his natural human right not to be forced to fight against his will.
At some point, he requested a transfer and shipped off to the Alabama National Guard. While using a legal technicality to get out of being forced to go to war, he may–or may not–have declined to show up for some of the pro forma rituals of his pro forma position. In any case, he got away with anything that he did, and was eventually discharged without complaint from the military.
CBS thought there may have been some more direct evidence that Bush had failed to show up for some of the pro forma rituals of his pro forma position. A pro forma position he was using to get out of being forced to fight and die in a war that he didn’t want to fight and die in. Some people, though, allege that these documents may have been forged.
So what we’re arguing over is whether (A) Bush dodged the draft (as he had every moral right to do) through a cushy ANG position to fulfill red tape for avoiding military enslavement, or (B) Bush dodged the draft (as he had every moral right to do) through a cushy ANG position and then didn’t show up for some of the pointless rigamarole that his position was supposed to entail as part of the red tape for avoiding military enslavement.
And around the third anniversary of the September 11 massacre, as Pinochet prepares to face trial for his crimes, as even the CIA admits that Iraq is disintegrating and 13 civilians were murdered live on the air by American soldiers (who bombarded them with seven rockets), this is, apparently, the most important political issue in the world to argue about on your weblog (cf. Kevin Drum 2004-09-09,
that other dude named
Charles Johnson on 2004-09-11, No Treason! 2004-09-11 10:42am, No Treason! 2004-09-11 8:34pm, Matt Yglesias 2004-09-14 , This Modern World 2004-09-14, etc.–if you’re into that sort of thing).
Blah blah blah. Jesus. Where are all the good male political bloggers?