Talking Points: Kerry’s vs. Bush’s Military Service

While I’ve been “retired” I’ve spent some time sliming around on comment boards. One winger talking point that’s going around is “Why won’t Kerry sign a Standard Form 180 to release all his military records?”

As it happens, as of Aug 18, Scott McClellan was unable to say whether Bush had signed a Form 180 or not either. Wingers claim (August 20) that Bush’s Presidential order to release his records was equivalent to signing a Form 180, but somehow I find that hard to believe. (If it true, however, all Bush has to do is sign a Form 180 and the issue will disappear.)

To counterattack, ask about Bush’s final DD-214. This is a complete service summary which is given to every serviceman upon discharge. If Bush’s is ever found, it will do a lot to lay the AWOL story to rest (if Bush is telling the truth, that is). Most veterans keep their DD214’s as a record and memento of their time in service (it is necessary to recieve veteran’s benefits) but apparently Bush didn’t — and in any case it hasn’t been released to the public. (*But see PPS below*)

(Other things to ask for are: any pages from Bush’s flight log; records from the Flight Inquiry Board convened after Bush was suspended as a pilot; any evidence of Bush’s reclassification into another AFSC after suspension as a pilot; any photos of George Bush in a military uniform after 1972; anything at all from any Alabama unit with Bush’s name on it; Any copies of form 44a from the Alabama National Guard certifying attendance; and anything proving service — not just receipt of pay — by Bush between May 1972 and May 1973. Thanks to Dr. Morpheus on Kevin Drum’s comments).

A lot of Kerry’s records have been posted, and my winger friends have been unable to tell me what, if anything, is missing. (Some say that it’s parts of his medical record). All in all this seems to be a pure fishing expedition, just like the attempt to get records from Kerry’s divorce proceedings. And above all, of course, the whole thing is a standard noise distraction meant to discourage voters, confuse people, and divert attention from (among other things) Bush’s weak record in the Guards.

At worst, Kerry was a bold, above-average naval officer. At best, Bush met the minimum standard in the National Guard. And as for the honorable discharge Bush brags about so much – even with time in the brig (twice) the Beltway Sniper John Allen Muhammed got an honorable discharge.

P.S. My winger friend Al came up with a link for the
Washington Post FOIA request for Kerry’s military records. If you look at the numbers, it seems that the Post is asking mostly for the same records that Kerry has posted. Presumably they think that the Kerry people held something back.

Kos has a piece suggesting that Bush may have not received on of the medals Guardsmen recieve just for showing up, and that he possibly may have worn a medal he never was awarded.

PPS. The part above about the DD 214 isn’t as killer as I thought. The other questions remain valid, though, AFAIK). The relevant form for the NG is the ANG form, not the DD214. Bush’s is here.

(August 22, 5:00 PDT: Blogger garbling fixed, I hope).