GOP Candidates Past and Present and Lies They Tell about Their Military Service (Part II)

In Part I we saw that sometimes the rich and powerful had ways and means to get their sons out of the Draft and harm’s way as the Viet Nam War raged. So Sid Adger, Poppy’s Houston businessman friend, calls former Texas Lieutenant Governor, Ben Barnes who then calls Texas Air Guard Commandant, General James Rose, and (presto) Junior Bush gets an appointment to TANG (Texas Air National Guard). And if that don’t beat all, in addition Bush gets an instant commission as a Texas Reserve Air Force officer just as pretty as you please, and begins to train for flying aircraft for Texas Air Force General Bobby Hughes at Ellington AFB, Houston. No boot camp, no Officer Training School, no ROTC required. You could have knocked me over with Sarah Palin’s brain.

Funny how a rare few have struggles with their conscience over monkey business such as messing with the Draft, and Ben Barnes was no exception after the fact.  Ben Barnes did a national television confession on CBS at the time Dan Rather was being demonized and scourged for one bogus article condemning Bush II for lying about his own military service.  See the source Rather used was not one of 100s of documented and true sources, but the one Rather used happened to be bogus and falsified (Brilliant piece of work, Karl). But nobody listened to Ben Barnes. His confession made Americans non-plused and confused about what all the ruckus was about. No one cared about the overwhelming other sources of evidence that Bush cheated and went AWOL, thanks to Poppy and other high officials who greased the gears and the palms of government. 

Ironic, but Bush’s ongoing torment by the Press would end with a whimper on ONE bogus piece of paper. It would end the heckling of George W. Bush’s going AWOL forever. And Dan Rather was the scapegoat. Even after the Boston Globe and LA Times newspapers had gathered decades of strong evidence that showed Bush to be a complete liar about his service in the Texas Air Guard and the Alabama Air Guard when he got out of the Draft when the Viet Nam War raged. Overcoming this black lie about his military service carried Bush II on to become Governor of Texas and President of the United States. And no one cared about the lie. Or wonted to pursue it. I thought America was running on its rims at the time.

In the Texas Air Guard you were assured of never having to fly missions in Viet Nam because the Draft provided enough cannon fodder for the combat positions in rice patties and ditches of the Mekong Delta when war raged and bullets whizzed by your head in your foxhole. In his Autobiography My American Journey General Colin Powell, on page 148, lamented:

"I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units. . . Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country."

But you see, that was before Colin Powell accepted the appointment of Secretary of State in the Bush II Administration. What a difference a day makes, eh? It made the good general angry when a Congressman asked him on camera a few years back to explain his obviously split feelings now that he worked for such a privileged son of the powerful as Powell described in his autobiography. It was the grossest form of discrimination possible, or so Powell said in his book. Discrimination in the Draft meant you could get killed, and the rich and powerful should get no breaks or special treatment. The congressman had Powell on the ropes, though, and these were new and different times. The general waxed indignant with: “I’m not going to dignify that with an answer.” Why not? Oh, well. Maybe there is another category of why people don’t tell the truth: maybe it hurts too much.

From this point on the glorious saga of George W. Bush twists and turns from his ascendancy to CEO of Arbuster Oil, then Harken Oil, part-owner of the Texas Rangers, Governor of Texas, and finally President of the United States. Both sides of the political aisle have spent billions of advertising dollars on truths, half-truths, and lies to prop up whatever each side wants the public to believe or not believe about Bush II’s military service and later on, his two terms as President. 

Sometimes it is difficult to sift the truth from the lies. For instance in Bush’s 2000 campaign autobiography, Bush claimed that after completing his training in the F-102 jet fighter, he continued flying with his unit for the next several years. That assertion was a blatant lie, according to records eventually released by the Bush campaign. Bush was grounded and never flew in uniform again after his suspension from duty in August 1972 for failing to show up for a mandatory annual flight physical.

In the same book Bush also suggests that he tried to volunteer for service in Vietnam “to relieve active duty pilots” fighting the war. Egad what a fantasy. In the first place Bush avoided being drafted for active duty so he could avoid the Viet Nam War, not to risk his privileged, young ass getting shot off. Earlier before his star began to rise, he said in a 1998 newspaper interview: “I don’t want to play like I was somebody out there marching [to war] when I wasn’t. It was either Canada or the service and I was headed into the service.”  So which way was it, Dubya, a Billy Bob down at the local ice house or a courageous pilot willing to go into combat to relieve his comrades? His Overseas Duty selection of “Do Not Volunteer” with a bold X in the box for his TANG application, said it all. Bet his pants burst into flames on that one.

Yet Bush’s ego-driven false revisions cannot compare with the fantastic recollections of the late Ronald Reagan. In November 1983, he told Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir during a White House visit that while serving in the U. S. Army film corps, his unit had shot footage of the Nazi concentration camps as they were liberated. He repeated the same tale to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and other witnesses the next day. Reagan had indeed served in the Army and worked on morale-boosting movies for the War Department. But he had done so without ever leaving Hollywood for the entire duration of the war. Reagan was never in Europe or for that matter out of the USA during WWII. Perhaps Reagan was tripping in his early stage dementia about how he was a WWII hero in Europe and all, but Bush’s phony account of volunteering for air combat to relieve our Viet Nam pilots, to give them a breather, is pure baloney. This premeditated lie is not too far removed from the Major who is presently before the Supreme Court to appeal his one-year sentence for lying recently about receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

But Reagan’s strange assertions about reality are truly basket case meanderings. On his way to the White House Reagan told some whoppers. Reagan said he entertained troops in Europe during WWII. But Reagan was never in Europe. But what could it hoit? Might get his campaign kick-started way back when he had hopes of winning some state and national elections. And that was before Teflon was invented. But the little lies might tweak your image into something good, larger than life, stuff that might just get you some votes. But make no mistake, Reagan acted bizarre and out of touch with reality. When the Prime Minister of Israel visited Reagan at the White House, Reagan explained for almost an hour why he was pro-Jewish. It was because during World War II he fantasized that he had visited Buchenwald shortly after the Nazi defeat and made films of that concentration camp. Reagan repeated this story the following day to an Israeli ambassador. But the truth was Reagan was never in Europe; he never saw a concentration camp; he was in Hollywood, making films for the United States Armed Services.

It is a stretch to make sense about Reagan’s concentration camp story. Perhaps Reagan engaged in a bald-faced lie.  But why? What would he have to gain?  Votes? Yes. Popularity during his two terms as president? Of course. Would anybody notice or detect the lie? No. Or if they did Reagan would be forgiven as being old. Generally, that sort of thing carries no weight with a public glued to the Sunday afternoon football game. No one is plugged in. Or no one cares, take your pick. And the Press. Perhaps it had become non-news that during the debates with Mondale that the Social Security Fund was real and alive and separate from the National Budget? It’s not and it’s not. But not much was ever said about Reagan’s senior moments when it came to facts. Remember when Reagan said he would balance the budget by 1984? And deny it later when reminded of his boast?

Should we overlook such inconsistencies when lies prevail on the campaign trail about one’s military service? Are lies told early on likely to mushroom into bigger and more serious lies later on? One’s military service seems sacred enough and should be treated as such. Truth should overrule any lies told, and a candidate, even if he has won a race should be disqualified from that office if he has lied about his military service. As a start, perhaps then American values would not be the object of criticism. GOP, are you listening? You, too, Democrats.