Dodger in Chief
April 3, 2002
By Christian Dewar
In recent days, George W. Bush has appeared at numerous
military bases in a bid to bolster his image as commander
in chief. With a back drop of flags and the faces of young
military personnel, Bush has exhorted the troops with the
co-opted slogan, "Let's Roll!" In his state of the
union adress, he has asserted the right of our country to
wage pre-emptive strikes against the "Axis of Evil,"
reversing a warming trend in political relations with Iran
and North Korea from the previous administration. Now, Afghanistan
is becoming a permanent bastion of U.S. military might in
support of American interests including oil.
Perhaps it is the wish of the 43rd president that the citizens
of the U.S. never learned or have forgotten his own blemished
military record and that of many of his most bellicose, militant
advisors. Troubling accounts of his service history are not
new and have been covered in major newspapers and books. There
are even websites
devoted to this controversy. Now it appears that the administration
has advanced the use of nuclear weapons in an unprecedented
way that may very well destabilized relations with the other
countries on this planet.
While Bill Clinton received scathing criticism for avoiding
the draft, at least he did so for principled reasons, openly
opposing a war that he felt was immoral. But Bush claimed
he never discussed Vietnam while he was in college. However,
when he was 12 days from the expiration of his student deferment
and eligible to be drafted into active service, powerful friends
intervened to ensure he would not die in the jungles of Vietnam.
Despite a waiting list of approximately a year and a half,
Bush was accepted into the Guard on the day he applied. This
was at a time when approximately 350 Americans were dying
in the war each week. On his application, Bush checked the
box which read, "Do not volunteer for overseas service."
Dubya enjoyed many other perks. He was able to gain lengthy
leaves of absence to work on political campaigns within weeks
of joining the guard. Despite having the lowest possible qualifying
score on the pilot apptitude test, he was admitted to flight
training. Without the inconvenience of attending officer training
programs or serving for the required mandantory tour of active
duty, Bush was commissioned a second lieutenant. This was
done under an exemption called "direct appointment"
which was exclusively reserved for flight surgeons and other
critically needed personnel with outstanding credentials.
Bush's attendance was very sketchy. There were apparently
long, unexplained absences and his superior officers seemed
to have no recollection of him at some of the bases that he
was assigned to. Some vets have posted rewards for anyone
who can prove that Bush was actually present at air bases
that he claimed to have served at.
Bush's tenure in the Guard was not all work and no play,
however. He reportedly drank heavily and chased women. At
one point, Richard Nixon sent a government plane to his military
base to fly him to Washington, D.C. for a date with his daughter,
Trisha! It was during this time of his life that dark rumours
circulated about the high spirited-pilot dancing nude on bars
and lip-synching to rowdy rock and roll songs. Other allegations
of cocaine and marijuana use circulated.
Possibly the most damaging information regarding Bush's military
service concerns the fact that once the Guard announced that
physical exams would include drug testing including an inspection
of nasal cavities for possible cocaine use, Bush never flew
again. One month after the announcement of the new policy,
he ceased attending training and was suspended from flying
for failure to take the test.
Given the fact that Bush has refused to refute allegations
of cocaine abuse, this raised the inevitable question as to
why he chose to abandon his military career. Despite the hundreds
of thousands of dollars that our government spent to train
him as a pilot, Bush was allowed to leave the Guard many months
before his committment ended. He then left for graduate school
to study for an MBA.
Amid this back drop of military men and women and the monuments
to those who sacrificed their lives during our nation's wars,
Bush's presence as the commander-in-chief appears somehow
as a mockery and counterfit. The appearance of patriotism
and heroism by a man who failed to lead on September 11th
belies the fact that powerful friends ensured that he wouldn't
have to serve in Vietnam.
Bush and Cheney, the two most powerful men of earth with
the ability to put U.S. citizens in harms way, refused to
put themselves at risk when their nation was at war. While
it is proper and just that the brave men and women of our
military pursue everyone culpable for the tragedy of 9/11
and to bring them to justice, many of the most militant advocates
for expanding the open-ended war against this vague and nebuous
enemy avoided service themselves.
Draft dodgers in this administration and their allies include
Dennis Hastert, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, (he claimed that minorities
had taken up all of the slots so there was no more room for
him) Trent Lott, Dick Cheney (he requested several deferments
and has been quoted as saying that he "had other priorities
than military service"), John Ashcroft, Newt Gingrich,
Elliott Abrahms, Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm, Jack Kemp, Dan
Quayle, Rush Limbaugh, (cysts on his butt) Bill Bennett, Frank
Gaffney and Kenneth Starr.
Americans have fortunately suffered few casualites in this
campaign. There have been disconcerting reports that Afghan
civilians now outnumber the fatalities resulting from the
horrific World Trade Center disaster. More deaths are certain
to occur. The sad truth about this administration is that
they will ask America's sons and daughters to make the sacrifice
that they themselves would not.