Bush's Last Stand
September 28, 2004
By Steven Vincent
Bush likes to think of himself as a "war President," who is "resolute,"
"steadfast," and "decisive." He also likes to compare himself to
historical figures. His favorite is Winston Churchill who led Great
Britain through the horrors of World War II.
I believe a comparison to a historical figure is appropriate but
I think he is much more like a famous American military leader -
General George Armstrong Custer.
Like George W. Bush, George A. Custer was born to a privileged
family. He used his family's political connections to get into West
Point, an institution of learning he was not otherwise qualified
for. While at West Point, George did not distinguish himself among
his 34 classmates.
His carefree attitude and joking demeanor did not sit well with
the rigid requirements of military school life. He was often punished
and, at one point, received enough demerits to be expelled. Someone
was watching out for young George though and his demerits were mysteriously
removed from the record, allowing him to continue.
Cadet George Custer graduated from West Point 34th out of 34,
last of his class. He was nearly court-martialed for neglect of
duties while still at West Point awaiting his commission but again,
somehow, skated by without punishment - a now recurring theme in
Despite his poor grades and inability to grasp basic military
requirements, George was given a plumb assignment in the military
during the Civil War. The units he commanded suffered unusually
high casualty rates even by the standards of the time due to George's
arrogance, brazen aggression and disregard for his men's safety.
In late 1867 Custer was court-martialed and suspended from duty
for a year for being absent from duty but he used his connections
to, once again, skirt punishment and regain his standing in the
military. General Phil Sheridan used his military power to excuse
young George's youthful mistake and brought him back into a position
with more power and authority.
George was a master of military politics and somehow worked his
way up to Brigadier General at the age of 25, the youngest man ever
to attain that rank. Gen. George was placed in command of a contingent
of men to seek out "renegade" Indians who were holding up the "progress"
of miners and other business venturers from gaining profit off of
the unexplored lands. The Natives were portrayed as vicious savages
intent on killing innocent American civilians though the majority
of them just wanted to live their lives in peace in their homelands.
George's fate and historical fame were both wrapped up in an expedition
to destroy the Lakota, Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians in Montana
because of the wrongful association of all of the tribes in that
area with the attacks by one tribe and chief, Crazy Horse. The U.
S. government, in all of its wisdom, decided to round up, imprison
or destroy all of the Native people in that area and they relied
on their young, brash, arrogant commander to do it.
Riding with his men and two other brigades, the plan was to use
overwhelming force to destroy the less well-armed and organized
Indians. Young and boastful, George knew that this mission would
ensure his fame, fortune and political future for all time and led
his men into battle in spite of the intelligence he was getting
from the field.
Though he was warned in advance by scouts that the Indians had
a much larger force than was originally thought, he continued his
Though allied units commanded by far more experienced leaders
fell behind and were not with him, he pushed forward, resolute.
Though he split his forces into three separate units, weakening
them, he rode ahead, confidently. Though he went into battle with
underwhelming force, he did so convinced of his ability to bring
forth a glorious victory for his country and himself.
Convinced of his own superiority and leadership skills, George
pushed valiantly forward into one of the greatest military blunders
in U.S. history. The Indians, formerly opponents of each other,
united against the vicious attacks of the U.S. military and thousands
of former enemies combined their forces to attack George and his
General George Armstrong Custer led all of his men, cocksure,
to slaughter. Not one soldier under his command survived his confident,
resolute, and blindingly wrong blunder.
The amazing thing is, there are still George defenders who claim
he was a great leader and military mind. In spite of evidence to
the contrary, he will always, in some minds, be considered a brave
patriot whose confidence, resoluteness, and conviction in his decision-making
outweigh the ultimate result of his foolish choices.
But while there are many historical similarities between the two
Georges, there is one glaring difference.
One George led his men into battle and faced the bullets and arrows
of the enemy, donned the uniform and fought for his country, led
his men from the front, and stood behind his choices personally
and was forced to accept their fatal outcome.
The other is our President.
Visit Steven Vincent's blog at http://www.conservativefighter.blogspot.com