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George W. Bush's Call for Volunteers in the Service of America
April 9, 2002
By Christian Dewar

(From the Department of Do as I Say, Not as I Do)

In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush called for the citizens of the United States to demonstrate their patriotism by volunteering 4000 hours of their time to the service of their country. Loyal Americans were encouraged to join Bush's recently established U.S. Freedom Corp or the Peace Corp. His administration subsequently established the 'Record of Service' which would allow volunteers to keep track of their donated time through a password protected online account. Presumably this feature for securing confidentiality is to prevent Bin Laden from hacking into their computers and deleting time served in an effort to undermine morale and national unity.

Volunteering time in the service of our fellow human beings is a good and worthy cause and is to be applauded but what may have seemed as a disconnect to those who have followed Bush's life history closely was what was strikingly absent from Dubya's call to action: an account of his own year of service at an inner city center for youths at risk in Houston. One would think that the president would have touted his own charitable efforts as an example of his selfless resolve to help the less fortunate. It is in the nature of a politician's constitution to loudly trumpet their accomplishments in an effort to appear more worthy of office, so it may at first seem odd that Bush would not broadcast his own altruistic efforts in the ghettos of Houston. This would seem especially true when it involved working with minorities, a valuable voting bloc that he has doggedly courted, except when his brother was busy disenfranchising them during elections. On examination of his history, it appears that the reason for his reticence to play up his charitable works may be the same as his reluctance to use his service record with the Texas National Guard to encourage enlistment into the armed services. Both of these eras in his past would not simple open a can of worms so much as open an entire dumpster full of the slimy little creatures.

After the events of September 11th, the Bush administration has reached a shrilling level of militancy. Not merely content to track down those responsible for the terrorist attacks, he has committed troops not only to Afghanistan and countries to the north of that vast battlefield, but also to Columbia, the Philippines and Georgia. Bush minions are threatening the 'Axis of Evil'. They are calling for first strike nuclear attacks. It may seem remarkable to casual observers then, that Bush hasn't highlighted his own military service in an effort to bolster recruiting efforts by the military. This is the last thing Bush wants. It is a dismal record that raises serious questions about Bush's years in the service. When his student deferment was about to expire, powerful friends intervened to pull strings on his behalf. Despite a waiting list of approximately a year and a half, Bush was accepted into the Texas National Guard on the same day he applied! He specifically did not volunteer for overseas duty when given the opportunity. Bush's attendance during his service was sketchy at best. He was allowed many absences to serve on various political campaigns. Dubya was showered with favoritism and there are allegations that he was AWOL for a considerable period of time. Vietnam vets have even offered rewards to anyone who can prove that Bush was present at some of the bases he claimed to have been stationed at. Most damaging are reports from some sources that he was no longer allowed to fly when he refused to take a medical exam which included drug testing. Ultimately, he was allowed to retire from the Guard months before his commitment expired.

In the 1970's Bush uncharacteristically volunteered to work at the P.U.L.L center in Houston an antipoverty charity program where his father was an honorary chairman. This was the first time the Dubya had ever demonstrated any 'compassionate conservatism' towards the less fortunate. Up until that time, Bush was known as the quintessential frat boy, devoted to partying and chasing skirts. There were the rumors of alcoholism, drugs, lost weekends in Mexico, dancing nude on bars and an endless parade of fast women. Working with black and Hispanic children did not exactly seem to be something that he was inclined to do by nature. After his stint at this job, Bush never again volunteered to help the needy and it appears that he quickly resumed his lifestyle as a hard core playboy.

According to the book, 'Fortunate Son; George W Bush and the Making of an American President', by J.H. Hatfield, this unusual digression in his life's history may have not really been volunteerism after all. According to Hatfield's sources, George W. Bush may have been busted for cocaine and a sympathetic judge prevailed upon to expunge the record with the stipulation that he would perform community service. This allegation is not new and has also been raised by other news sources such as the online 'Salon' but it merits reexamination after America's new war and Bush's appeal for a nation of volunteers. One of Hatfield's sources who he claim's was a former Yale classmate and a family friend who partied with the future president in the late '60's and early '70s in Houston, is quoted as saying "George W. was arrested for possession of cocaine in 1972, but due to his father's connections, the entire record was expunged by a state judge who the elder Bush helped get elected". This source then went on to say, "It was on of those 'behind closed doors in the judge's chambers' kind of thing between the old man and one of his Texas cronies who owed him a favor. In exchange for successfully completing community service at Project P.U.L.L., where Bush senior was a heavy contributor and honorary chairman, the judge purged George W.'s record."

Hatfield writes that "a long time Bush friend and unofficial political advisor, also acknowledged that Bush had indeed been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972 and had had his record expunged by a Houston judge after George W. worked as a youth counselor for several months at Project P.U.L.L. This source claimed that Bush "did the community service and the judge, a good ol' Texas boy and friend of George's politically influential daddy, purged the record. It happened a lot in Texas years ago, and George damn sure wasn't the first rich kid who got caught with a little snow, and because of his family's connections, had his record taken care of by the judge."

A third source of information on Bush's volunteer efforts was described by Hatfield as a "high-ranking adviser to Bush who had known the presidential candidate for several years". According to Hatfield, this source told him that "W. got caught with cocaine in 1972 and because his daddy was oil rich and influential in Harris County politics, he got his son off with a little community service at a minority youth center instead of having to pick cotton on a Texas prison farm."

When the book, 'Fortunate Son' was about to be released, a tremendous effort was made on behalf on the Bush campaign to suppress the book. Lawsuits were threatened and eventually the publisher offered to turn the book into 'furnace fodder'. While never directly addressing the substance of Hatfield's charges, they attacked the author in the press, releasing arrest records revealing the author's imprisonment for a murder conspiracy (never mind that his is irrelevant to whether the book is factual or not) and ultimately succeeded in besmirching the writer. Despite subsequent lawsuits and political pressure, the book has now been released by a new publisher, Soft Skull Press. Readers may decide for themselves whether there is any credibility to these allegations.

It certainly seems that if there were not some substance to these charges, the Bush administration would have seized upon his service record and his charitable work to burnish the president's standing and reputation and to encourage Americans to enlist and volunteer. That they have been so silent certainly leads one to suspect that there may be some truth behind these dark and unseemly rumors. In the mean time, it will be up to the rest of Americans to volunteer for our nation's wars and charitable endeavors.

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