No matter how many times they try to spin this story in Bush's favor (and right-wingers have been trying for five years now), the facts just don't budge. And the facts are this: After receiving $1 million worth of free government flight training as member of Texas Air National Guard, pilot George Bush walked away from his Guard duty in April 1972.
From 1972 and until he was discharged nearly two years later, Bush essentially disappeared. He went unsupervised. He refused to take a mandatory physical, he failed to show up for mandatory training sessions, and he tried to transfer to a unit in Alabama that had not airplanes.
Those are the facts.
But five years later, super-sleuth Bernard Goldberg claims he's got big news (and more proof of CBS's liberal media bias) because he went back and read a four-year-old report about Memogate, the "independent" report put together by CBS. (Yes, the same "independent report, that was overseen by a partisan GOP attorney and the same "independent' panel on which CBS considered including Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh.) In that report, it states that, according to some of Bush's old National Guard buddies, he at one point volunteered to go to Vietnam.
That's Goldberg's "startling" news. And my reaction is, so what?
First, this is very, very old news. Goldberg claims he couldn't find hardly any media mentions from 2004 about Bush allegedly volunteering to go to Vietnam. Funny, it took me four seconds to find this National Review column from Feb. 19, 2004:
In fact, he tried to volunteer for Vietnam.
Of the four pilots I spoke to who flew with Bush in the Texas days, Fred Bradley knew him best. They had met before going off to the year-long ordeal of pilot school, and entered the 111th at about the same time. Both were junior lieutenants without a lot of flying experience. But the inexperience didn't prevent Bush — along with Bradley — from going to their squadron leaders to see if they could get into a program called "Palace Alert." "There were four of us lieutenants at the time, and we were all fairly close. Two of them had more flight time than the president and me, said Bradley." All four volunteered for Vietnam.
Truth is, this GOP talking point was everywhere in 2004, but apparently Goldberg missed it.
But the reason nobody really cared that Bush allegedly volunteered for Vietnam while he was in pilot training was that it had nothing to do with the burning controversy of how Bush walked away from his Guard duty; how he abandoned his responsibilities during his last two years of service. Goldberg's scoop is completely irrelevant to that debate, and does nothing to change the facts, which remain quite damning for Bush and his followers.
Yet for some unknown reason Goldberg, as well as lots of right-wing bloggers, are now treating this old news rehash as the smoking gun. But the "revelation," which has been sitting in a public report since 2005, is utterly meaningless.
As I reported back in 2004, everybody agreed that while Bush was training to be a pilot (i.e. while he was allegedly volunteering for Vietnam) he received high marks, and he, y'know, showed up for duty. Nobody questioned his actions and performance from 1968 to 1972. The controversy surrounds the fact that Bush clearly made the decision in April, 1972, with 770 days left of required duty, that he was done fulfilling his military obligation. And how, despite the promise he made to his country when he entered the Guard's training program that he'd serve as a pilot until 1974, Bush just packed up and left.
He didn't show up for mandatory weekend training. He didn't show up for a mandatory physical and he became invisible for months at a time, completely unsupervised. (Try doing that in the military. It aint easy.)
Not surprisingly though, Goldberg never tries to answer these question. Instead he just plays dumb and pretends the National Guard story was about how Bush got into the Guard; how he avoided duty. But that was never the main thrust. The story was how Bush got out of the Guard. How he decided no rules applied to him and it was okay from him to abandon his service after the government trained him to fly.
That's the real story. Unfortunately, Goldberg has nothing insightful to say about that. But he did uncover a story that was widely reported five years ago. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
UPDATED: The New York Observer's Felix Gillette can't help making fun of Goldberg and his silly 'scoop.'
UPDATED: Gillette's report is especially embarrassing for Goldberg becuase in his report, aside from claiming nobody ever wrote about Bush (allegedly) volunteering for Vietnam, he stressed that CBS producer Mary Mapes sat on the information. That the liberal media wouldn't acknowledge Bush (allegedly) try to go to Vietnam
In her 2005 book Truth and Duty, Ms. Mapes writes explicitly about the "Bush volunteered," angle. Specifically, on page 65, she writes about a 1999 interview she conducted with Maurice Udell, who was George W. Bush's trainer in the 147th Fighter Group in Houston in the late 1960s.
In his August 28 Washington Times column, Wesley Pruden writes:
Nobody does celebrity death like the Americans. The British are capable of spectacular one-shot descents into commercial grief; the ceremonial burial honors for Princess Di couldn't be duplicated anywhere. Where else is there a backdrop like Westminster Abbey? But only in America can a celebrity's death be a good career move.
Democrats are smiling through their tears, determined not to waste an opportunity and figuring out how to channel grief over the death of Teddy Kennedy into a campaign to save President Obama's health-care scheme. Sen. Chris Dodd says "maybe Teddy's passing will remind people once again that we are there to get a job done."
But maybe not. Moments of synthetic unity rarely last very long. "When the dust settles and the tributes end," says William Galston, who was a Clinton adviser on domestic policy, "we will be very close to where we were a week ago. I do not think this is a galvanizing moment. The divide is too deep."
But there's power in celebrity death. The death of Michael Jackson and the resulting flood of tears is likely to stand for a long time as the standard for how to make death memorable, profitable and fun. There's talk of an amusement park to be built around Michael's tomb when the dearly departed moves on to a final resting place at Neverland Ranch. Elvis has Graceland, so why not? The family is feuding just now about the whether and whenever. The smart money in family feuds is always on the faction with actual possession of the body.
The rich tradition of commercial grief is an old one. When Hank Williams, one of the early immortals of country music, died six decades ago so many cars, bicycles, wagons and pickup trucks descended on a backwoods cemetery in Alabama the governor had to call out the National Guard. "Everyone who could croak a note wanted to pluck a guitar or play the fiddle over his grave," his widow recalled. Six feet under, Hank was so lonesome he could cry.
When someone famous for having done something really important dies, his memory is at risk for similar parody. Washington is awash just now in lugubrious self-congratulations for the "moment of unity" that is said to have descended on the capital in the wake of Teddy's death. Some people mistake good manners for regrets for having failed to share Teddy's politics. Other mourners, real, imagined, right and left, are eager to strike heroic poses as old Kennedy pals and confidantes. One pundit recalls that he was once invited to dinner at Chez Kennedy and that the senator even endorsed, sort of, a book he once wrote. Fame in Washington is where you can find a reflection to bask in.
The author of another "remembrance," anxious to be thought a Kennedy insider, manages to get through a hymn to the senator's career and character without mentioning Mary Jo Kopechne. The New York Times notes the tragedy at Chappaquiddick Island as merely a "personal embarrassment." Ted Sorensen, a faithful liege man to the Kennedy family, writes in Time magazine that the significance of the Chappaquiddick "incident" is that it ultimately "ended [Teddy's] bright prospects for still higher office." (Miss Kopechne, who is still dead, did not return phone calls for comment.)
No one should be held responsible for what he says at a wedding or a funeral, though President Obama once more demonstrated a community activist's knowledge of American history with his description of Teddy as the greatest senator in history. You might make an argument that Teddy is the hardest-working since Lyndon B. Johnson, but fans of Daniel Webster and other giants of the Senate would argue that he was not necessarily the best senator in the history of Massachusetts.
Teddy, like celebrities before him, is hardly responsible for over-the-top eulogies by those who are dying, you might say, to croak a note or play the fiddle over his grave. Teddy, facing eternity, turned seriously to his Christian faith for sustenance in his last days, singing hymns with his family, and somewhere over on the Other Side he may be squirming, redeemed by grace but troubled by genuine regret and remorse, wishing he could tell the suck-up artists on this side to knock it off.
Celebrity grief, real and not so real, will pass. A moment always does. The next celebrity death is just around the corner.
The Post's Howard Kurtz kicked off the week erroneously reporting that "about 20 companies"companies had announced they'd no longer advertise on Glenn Beck in response to the controversy sparked when the host called Obama a racist. At the time of Kurtz's reporting, nearly three dozen companies had walked away from Beck, not "about 20."
Today, the number has swelled to nearly 50, which frankly, is just staggering. And these are blue-chip advertisers (General Mills, Travelers, Vonage, etc.) For Beck to lose just three or four of these companies would be an extraordinary development. For him to have lost 50 in the last two weeks is likely unprecedented in modern U.S. television history.
But, as far as Post newspaper readers know, only "about 20" companies have abandoned Beck. It's time the Post let readers in on the truth.
We're used to Glenn Beck being "out there", but today's show was special. Beck's hour (the second day in a row in which he didn't say a thing about the passing of Sen. Kennedy) was all about the supposed secret army being built by President Obama. This secret army idea, not supported by any facts, though possibly written in invisible ink that Beck can interpret, is a pet cause of fringe radio host Alex Jones.
Jones is something of a leader in the underground 9/11 "truth" movement. They believe that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job and that all the governments of the world are controlled by a cabal of the uber-rich who want to kill 2/3 of the world's population. Really.
Jones has repeatedly alluded to the existence of a secret army being built by Obama, a similar charge to the one leveled by Beck on today's show. The difference of course is that Jones mostly transmits over the internet and shortwave radio. Beck has a show on a cable "news" network. Beck's previous flirtation with the idea that FEMA was building detention camps is also an article of faith with Jones and his followers.
The focus of the Jones/Beck secret army conspiracy theory is the AmeriCorps program, which was created during President Clinton's presidency. AmeriCorps describes itself like this:
Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Whether your service makes a community safer, gives a child a second chance, or helps protect the environment, you'll be getting things done through AmeriCorps!
I will get things done for America -
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.
I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.
Faced with apathy,
I will take action.
Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.
Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.
I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.
I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.
Well, that should convince everyone. Those are clearly the words of a secret army being run by the President.
Recently Alex Jones has taken to posting bizarre YouTube videos where he attacks President Obama's policies while dressed up as the Joker. Considering the regular antics on Beck, it's probably only a matter of time before cable news imitates the lunatic fringe. Again.
Forty-six companies have now reportedly said they will no longer run ads on Glenn Beck's Fox News show.
Media Matters for America has compiled a list of companies that did run ads on Glenn Beck this evening (August 27) in the order they appeared:
From an August 27 ColorofChange.org press release:
Adding to an increasing list of companies distancing themselves from Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck, ten new companies whose ads were recently seen during Beck's program-Applebee's, Bank of America, Bell & Howell, DirecTv, General Mills, Kraft, Regions Financial Corporation, SAM (Store and Move), Travelers Insurance and Vonage-have pledged to take steps to ensure that their ads don't run on Beck's show. Forty-six companies have now committed not to support Beck's show since ColorOfChange.org launched its campaign three weeks ago after the Fox News Channel host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people" during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
Three of the latest defections-Travelers Insurance, Bell & Howell and DirecTv-join the list of advertisers who claim to have already placed Glenn Beck's program on a "do not air" list, but whose ads have been seen on Beck's program, apparently against their wishes.
"We could not be happier with the results of our campaign so far," said James Rucker, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. "All 46 companies that have distanced themselves from Glenn Beck should be applauded for their stance."
"We are still reaching out to companies whose ads we see during Beck's nightly program," Rucker continued. "Based on the fact that many of the recent ads on Beck's program are for gold coins and News Corp properties, it looks like Fox News Channel is struggling to place advertisements on Beck's show."
From Your World with Neil Cavuto:
And does the fact that nearly 40 advertisers have abandoned his program in response to a grassroots campaign have anything to do with Beck's sudden bout of monumental amnesia?
I ask because watch this clip below of Beck on Bill O'Reilly's show this week and watch as the two men bemoan the attempts by nasty liberals "loons" to shut Beck up; to snatch away his Freedom of Speech.
What's rather astonishing is that while Beck and O'Reilly clearly make (indirect) references to the ad boycott campaign, they never explain to viewers what sparked the outrage. They never explain why. They never explain the campaign was launched in direct response to the fact that Beck went on national television and called the President of the United State a "racist"; somebody who flashed a "deep-seated hatred of white people."
At Fox News, that smear has been flushed down the memory hole, and all that's left is playing victim.
The knee-jerk response is utterly predictable. But oh brother, wait until you see the "logic" used by Riehl World View to defend Andrew Breitbart, who unleashed a crazy, name-calling screed yesterday, just hours after Kennedy passed, calling the American icon a "prick" and a "bastard."
According to Riehl World View, liberals criticizing Breitbart are "hypocrites" because when Dick Cheney dies they're going to do the exact same thing. That's right, liberals today are hypocrites because of what they might do in the future; because of how they might act based on a right-wing fantasy, where liberal columnists suddenly lose all their moral guideposts and viciously attack a dead politician (attack the person, not even his politics), just hours after he loses a long battle with cancer.
Yesterday, "San Diego County Political Buzz Examiner" Kimberly Dvorak posted an Examiner.com article claiming that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) "took the President to task over his weekly radio address that claimed to expel myths in the health care bill." Dvorak, in support of her case, came armed with a couple of quotes purportedly from the CRS:
"There is just one problem: his (the President) statements don't match the facts," CRS said.
The President's address began with a "false claim that illegal immigrants will not [sic] get health insurance under reform." CRS reports that there are numerous loopholes in the House legislation will offer benefits to illegal aliens.
Pretty harsh stuff. But let's take a step back for a moment. Anyone who knows anything about the CRS would immediately grow suspicious at the idea that that organization would produce a sentence along the lines of: "There is just one problem: his (the President) statements don't match the facts." CRS reports, for all their informative value, are drier than white toast packed in silica gel. Just take a look at this excerpt from a recent report on Chile's economic model:
The existing prudential regulatory and oversight system has so far limited these types of mistakes from being repeated and is credited with helping maintain the health of the banking sector during the global financial crisis. It continues to update regulations to stay current with a dynamic and innovative industry so as to balance competitiveness with prudence. The result, in 2009 Chile has one of the most stable banking systems among emerging market countries, as evidenced by its capacity to withstand external shocks related to the global recession and international credit contraction.
So what has happened? Has the CRS taken on a new edgier tone? Is a rogue CRS researcher inserting punchy language into the final copies of these otherwise stodgy reports? As it turns out, the quote isn't from the CRS at all, but rather from an August 25 press release from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX):
President Obama on Saturday continued the hard sell for the Democrats' healthcare scheme with a radio address that purported to expel myths associated with the bill. There is just one problem: his statements don't match the facts.
But wait -- there's more! The second quote that Dvorak attributes to the CRS -- the "false claim that illegal immigrants will not [sic] get health insurance under reform" -- was also from Smith's press release, but in addition to misattributing the quote, she altered it to change its meaning. Smith's press release was actually quoting President Obama's August 22 address:
The President's radio address started by calling it a "false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform." But his statements are contradicted by fact. A new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) validates that numerous loopholes may allow illegal immigrants to benefit under the bill.
Dvorak took that quote from President Obama's radio address, inserted the word "not" into it, and then claimed it was actually from a CRS report refuting President Obama's radio address. That's shockingly dishonest, and it would be interesting to hear from Examiner.com's editors how it was that all this managed to slip by them.