Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Why Now?

One thing puzzles me about the Swift Boat ads. Why now? By questioning Kerry's military service, the ads invite discussion of Bush's military service. And Bush's service is far less, um, impressive than Kerry's. Bush, near as anybody can tell, served honorably for four years as a fighter jock in the Texas Air National Guard. Unfortunately, he had enlisted for six years.

Now, there are many questions about Bush's TANG service:

  • He "jumped the line" to get into the TANG at all.
  • Appointed Second Lieutenant without required ROTC or OCS training.
  • He "jumped the line" again to get into pilot training
  • He transferred from Texas to Alabama. This transfer is highly questionable; the Alabama guard didn't have the airplanes that Georgie was trained on. The military trains you to do something, you do it.
  • There is no record of his ever showing up at the Guard in Alabama.
  • In 1972, he didn't show up for his flight physical and was grounded as a result.
  • He was discharged early to attend Harvard Business School

From looking at the dates coded into the information that we do have, it looks like the Guard was covering up for him. He would do something and the Guard would try to fix things to make it look right.

Now, in the 2000 election campaign, the Bush people painted Georgie's service (or lack thereof) as a total non- issue. Thirty years ago, and besides, Georgie Found Jaysus, which is the Republican moral reset switch. This worked; Georgie's misspent youth (I've heard that he was the model for Bluto, the John Belushi character in Animal House) never became an issue.

Why didn't they do the same thing this time? Simply smile indulgently and say, "Well, Kerry's trying to hide the fact that he hasn't really done anything interesting in the last thirty years." By bring this out now, it opens Georgie's sad National Guard service to scrutiny. In a month, the whole Swift Boat nonsense will be gone (a structure built totally on lies can only last so long), but Georgie's record will still be on the table.

So what's going on here? Well, the obvious answer is that the Swift Boat Liars are an independent group not connected with the RNC. They have a rather common bug up their arse:

  1. All war heroes supported the Vietnam war enthusiastically
  2. No war protesters supported the Vietnam war.
  3. Therefore, no war protester was also a war hero
  4. Since Kerry was a war protester, he cannot have been a war hero.
  5. Since this is a Higher Truth, it's OK to lie about it.

In this model, the RNC higher- ups are tearing their hair out over this. Nothing they can do at this point; the cat's thoroughly out of the bag. Georgie's service is on the table for discussion and they just have to get ready to do damage control.

Problem is that nobody believes that the SBLs are really independent. The Repubs play things really tightly. So, again, why would they allow Georgie's record out of the closet?

Well, how about this? The Repubs are seriously concerned about an October Surprise about Georgie's National Guard service. This could be any of a number of things:

  • Records of bad behavior in the Guard
  • Copies of the missing part of Georgie's records, like the record of the Flight Inquiry Board that is required whenever a pilot is taken off of flight status.
  • Proof that the Guard records were fudged to keep Georgie out of trouble.
  • Proof that Georgie took pay from the National Guard under false pretenses.
  • Proof that Georgie'e records were illegally discarded.

In this model, the SBL stuff makes sense. By getting it out onto the table now, the Bush campaign has two months, rather than a week or two, to do damage control.

Which is it? One of these, or something else? Only the Kerry campaign knows ....

LATER -- Ken Layne channels Hunter Thompson on the same subject (via).

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