Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry could be walking into an ambush that may ultimately will do him in. Kerry today adopted the “I heard such and such” tactic first employed with disastrous results by Howard Dean on 9/11 rumors.
Richmond, VA (AP) – ..Kerry said Bush had not fully answered questions about whether he fulfilled his National Guard service in Alabama during the Vietnam War.
“The issue here is, as I have heard it raised, is was he present and active in Alabama at the time he was supposed to be,” said Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran. “I don’t have the answer to that question and just because you get an honorable discharge does not in fact answer that question.”
Kevin Drum has evidence that Bush was detailed to a reserve unit for failing to show for his annual physical in 19721. Regardless, there is still no truth to the assertion that Bush was AWOL. This Calpundit comment sums up the situation pretty well:
The good news: Georgie spent a significant part of the war in a disciplinary unit for failing to show up.
The bad news: He wasn’t really AWOL or deserted, because his disciplinary unit does not have active drill requirements. That is, he was “present” at his disciplinary unit on paper.
Certainly this is not good news for Bush, but compare this revelation with those emerging about Kerry’s post war activities (being floated by other Democratic candidate camps) most of which are detailed at the Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry site.
The Bush story is a ghost paper chase that always ends in the cul-de-sac of an honorable discharge and zero references to Absence Without Official Leave. The Kerry story on the other hand has pictures, video, and congressional testimony that sharply contrast with the current crop of “war hero” commercials running.
If John Kerry wants to put the focus of the 2004 election on the early 1970’s something tells me that the visuals of Kerry and Jane Fonda and some of his other anti war activities will take the tarnish off of the “war hero” persona he’s now crafting. Somewhere Karl Rove must be licking his chops preparing a ‘Hanoi John’ commercial…
1 This entry at Good Grief! from January 2004 details the suspension. Kevin’s finding details where Bush was placed administratively after his suspension.