The Ben Barnes interview just ended on 60 Minutes II. Barnes, for those who don’t know, was the Texas Speaker of the House in 1968, and the go-to guy for the affluent and powerful trying to keep their sons out of Viet Nam. He was the man who got Bush a Texas Air National Guard spot (I don’t believe, come to think of it, that this program mentioned how Bush leap-frogged over a list of hundreds of privileged sons). My initial impression: pretty useless. Assuming that TV news magazine shows tap an audience that does not rely heavily on newspapers for their news, this will not sway anyone. The documents Dan Rather presented were just a sampling of what the Boston Globe has summarized. Barnes’ comments certainly confirm that favors were granted to keep Bush’s tailfeathers out of Viet Nam, but who doesn’t already shrug that off? “Of course! He’s a rich white boy!” Memos from the personal files of Bush’s squadron commander, Col. Killian, showed that Bush was an administrative headache and increasingly irresponsible, but Killian is no longer alive; the buddy they interviewed to verify the authenticity of the memos, Robert Strong, used the most exquisite legalese in order to leave the faintest shadow of a doubt: “They are compatible with the way business was done at the time. They are compatible with the man that I remember Jerry Killian being… I don’t see anything in the documents that is discordant with what were the times, what was the situation and what were the people involved.” (From the transcript.) The broadcast left the impression that the picture of Bush’s activities during those months was still somehow incomplete, and thus not disputable. In fact, they let Lying Dan Bartlett have the last word about Bush — which was that Bush had cleared his activities with superiors (verbally?) and would not have been honorably discharged if he hadn’t fulfilled his agreed-upon obligations. The segment closed with more speculation about the culture of the draft, and whether or not Barnes felt bad about pulling strings for rich kids. Read the Globe article, if you haven’t already, and draw your own more informed conclusions. Nicholas Kristoff really adds nothing new in his editorial except a really stupid title: to be “missing in action” you have to be there in the first place! Bush, our court-appointed Commander in Chief, was AWOL!


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