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Draft 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.

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