Bush Caught in Blatant Lie. No One Cares?

Someone please explain this to me. Usually GW Bush speeches are artfully concocted creations that sound like they say one thing (e.g. Saddam was in bed with Al Qaeda), but in fact when you parse them carefully don't actually lie as such. (Disclaimer: does not apply to uses of economic statistics, where the M.O. is to accurately quote transparently concocted statistics.)

But yesterday GW Bush said something quite plainly false. Look at this article in the Manchester Union Leader, referenced in Dan's latest column:

The President said, as he has in the past, that after flying more than 570 hours in the Guard, he asked permission to work on a political campaign. “I was granted permission by my superiors,” he said. “I did everything they asked me to do and met my requirements and was honorably discharged. I’m proud of my service in the Guard.

We all know that the claim that “I did everything they asked me to do” is false. “They” asked Lt. Bush to take a physical. In fact, if the Guard followed its routine, they almost certainly ordered him to. And he didn't.

This incident demonstrates the major reason why the issue of 30-year-ago National Guard service is relevant today. Not because someone pulled strings in order to put some poor person's kid at risk in Vietnam instead of Jr. Not because Bush gamed the system to get out of flying just when his unit was going to a genuine mission to patrol US airspace. Not because the ill-minded of the world speculate that substance abuse lead to his being grounded, and meant he would have flunked the physical. Not because someone falsified the official records to record credits that were never actually earned. Nor even because the records were later sanitized to remove the critical separation codes that would tell us something about what really happened.

No. The reason this incident matters most is because GWB still can't come clean about it. And that sort of stubborn denial of facts is digging us deeper into holes in Iraq and at home.

But you know all this. Everyone knows all this. So the question I want explained to me is this: Why is it that when Dan Rather unwittingly albeit negligently tells a lie, everyone gets excited. But when the GOP candidate for President tells a lie knowingly and with malice aforethought…no one calls him on it?

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15 Responses to Bush Caught in Blatant Lie. No One Cares?

  1. Geoffrey says:

    Nicely done!

  2. patrick says:

    I mean, I care, you care, there are some of us that do, but I think that maybe it’s possible that it’s time to stop worrying about Bush’s TANG fiasco, and move on to what’s really pressing down on us: Iraq!

    Seems like KE04 are starting to think that way. (witness Kerry in NYC today) I am popping in on various blogs I read and suggesting that from here forward “W stands for What Now?”

    Even Bill Safire is in the NYTimes today saying he thinks the Boy King doesn’t have a clue about how to proceed in the Fertile Crescent. Is this the message we should hammer until the debates?

    your fan,


  3. jason wolf says:

    Sadly, we are all so accustomed to politicians lying that it doesn’t resonate in the slightest, unless as you wrote earlier, someone (such as each party Propaganda Machine) makes it into an issue.

  4. LarryG says:

    Great point, though it’s important to note that the liar here is not just the Republican “candidate” for the presidency, but the actual sitting President.

  5. davidk says:

    And that’s exactly why this just doesn’t matter. It would have (should have) mattered in 2000, but the guy’s been president for almost four years now. What matters is his (abysmal) record in that role.

  6. LarryG says:

    That’s precisely why I said what I did. His behavior/performance has been horrifying from day one.

  7. Observer says:


    For the same reason that no TV news organization challenged Colin Powell’s numerous false and misleading claims in his UN address but every TV news organization felt compelled to scrutinize every word and picture of Farenheit 9/11 for inaccuracies.

    For the same reason that “Unfit for Command” has received extensive TV news coverage despite being full of obvious errors while the Kelley had Hersh books have been almost ignored.

    For the same reason that GWB has lied, several times, claiming that Saddam never let inspectors back into Iraq (he also lied saying Saddam kicked them out in 1998, but then so did most of the punditry), without one TV news organization calling him on it.

    It might have something to do with the fact that the four major TV news networks are subsidiaries of corporations that contribute heavily to the Republican party.

    Or it might have something to do with the fact that those who determine the content of the TV news (producers and the leading on-air personalities) all are in the upper, upper income bracket and personally benefit from Bush’s tax policies. Under Kerry, they would all pay a lot more taxes and would not benefit from his policy improvements targeting the middle classes.

  8. calmo says:

    Observer has it with this: “It might have something to do with the fact that the four major TV news networks are subsidiaries of corporations that contribute heavily to the Republican party.” Not only has there been no check or balance in government but the press/media did not serve that role either.

    Well there was the AP suit. And the coverage of that was pretty tame, no?
    Anybody know at what stage the AP suit for the Bush military records is at? Wasn’t there a deadline imposed by the court that expires this week?

  9. Brett Bellmore says:

    How is it you manage to be so darn sure of things you can’t seem to produce evidence for?

  10. Michael says:

    Mr. Bellmore –

    I assume that your comment is directed at my original post. Please ignore what follows if that assumption is incorrect.

    “Can’t”? Or “didn’t bother because I’ve documented it in the past”? The latter. Very much the latter.

    Tell you what. You make a sincere effort to go through my past posts on Bush’s National Guard service (many but not all are in the “Bush scandal” category; others are probably in “Politics: US : 2004 election”) and visit this one site — the AWOL Project and if after that good-faith effort there’s any allegation above about Bush’s Guard career above you can’t find a source for, I’ll post it here. In fact, I’d start with the AWOL Project if I were you, it might be quicker.

    (Taking the time to type in all the URLs yet again seemed both redundant and besides the point, since the thrust of the comment was that something else mattered more.)

    If on the other hand your unspecified doubt is actually about my claim that Iraq is going badly due to the pig-headedness of the people who designed and are running the war effort, I refer you to the news reports in the last three days.

    Yrs &tc.

  11. peter jung says:

    Observer has it right, the media are nothing more than the mouthpiece of Korporate Amerika. Check out the Columbia Journalism Review site on “Who Owns What” in the media- it all gets real clear when you see who is pulling the strings at our TV, print, and radio outlets.

  12. jim says:

    The reason why no one cares is because we hold the President to a lower standard than someone like Dan Rather. We expect lies from Bush. Those who support him acknowledge that the President says silly things sometimes. “It’s ok, he doesn’t know any better.” Some would probably even argue that lies are necessary to combat the the other side, or the liberal-leaning media that is out to get him. That to me is the scariest implication of this disaster of a presidency: the bottoming out of expectations for honesty and decency in the highest public office in the world. Bush’s presidency has redefined the relevance of truth itself in public discourse.

  13. Chris says:

    I took a break from following Michael’s blog–I’ve grown so skeptical of the Bush administration that I suspected that we’d see the same old story (different day) from them, and I had the Fall quarter to start up.

    I think the media’s rationale for its free pass of Bush re his equivocation and outright lies are well documented already by this post and other blogs and sites, and there’s no point in rehashing them. But this mindset exists among many regular citizens as well–grounded, I think, in the idea of “President as King.” I routinely see editorials–often by ex-military folks, but by others as well–who point out that it is not right to question our “commander in chief.” As if the people we elect are our masters, not our servants. I wish I knew the psychology for this kind of thinking. Perhaps it means that monarchy or autocracy is our natural preference as far as form of government is concerned. But the going easy on Bush is not simply a media phenomenon.

  14. you’ve got the wrong lie michael…

    We can’t prove “I did everything they asked me to do” is false, but we can prove “met my requirements” is false.

    One of the problems with this story is that the media doesn’t know what questions to ask. Instead of asking the Killian family “Would your father have written bad things about Bush”, they should have asked “Would your father ignore his duties—that of ensuring the highest possible state of readiness for his squadron in case there was a mobilization—for Bush?”

    I was flabbergasted to read in the recent NYTimes piece that Hodges “didn’t know” if Bush had actually shown up for training. THAT is a headline—yet it was buried deep in the story.

  15. John W. Gibson says:

    I simply cannot understand why anyone on the Democratic side would want to present forged documents about Bush’s suspension from flying. It is obvious that he was suspended from flying for failure to attend a physical examination along with his friend Maj. James R. Bath at the same time. That’s enough. We really don’t need to show that he was Ordered to attend a physical because that’s obvious. We really don’t need to know if his C.O. wrote a memo to cover his own butt because that also would be rather obvious. We don’t need to show that the U.S. Air Force was not provided an explanation because that’s obvious unless those records were “scrubbed.” The U.S. Air Force may not be the Marine Corps but they are not the Cub Scouts either and they are serious about pilots when they spend a half million dollars to train a person to fly multi-million dollar fighter jets.

    So, if the documents turn out to be forged, who forged them?

    By the way I don’t know why the Democrats have not picked up on this yet, but what about Bush’s claim to be a member of the American Legion? None of the records released from his National Guard days show that he was issued the National Defense Service Medal for any active duty. None of his records show federal orders other than active duty for training. Yet there are photographs of him wearing a Legion hat from Post 77 Houston, Texas and he actually said in a speech in 2000 before the American Legion, George Bush Post 77 reporting for duty or words to that effect. And if the neo-cons think that being Commander-in-Chief should count for active duty now, well OK, then Clinton can join too. That should liven up the old Legion Hall.

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