Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Wesley Clark is catching heat for failing to repudiate Michael Moore's charge that George W. Bush was a deserter. You can find the relevant transcript here. For the pro-Bush side of the argument, go here. Plenty of places to look for the anti-Bush position: You could start here.
It strikes me that Michael Moore uses "deserter" the same way Ann Coulter uses "traitor," as a political slur of convenience, with no respect for the actual meaning of the words. But he is a provocateur par excellence: His bandying about of the word may have hurt his candidate, but it struck the right chord to stir up a web's nest -- close enough to the truth to provoke debate, close enough to libel to incite Bush fans who would prefer to let this sleeping dog lie.
I'm not sure why I find the debate over Bush's military record so fascinating. I decided long ago that everybody gets amnesty for actions during the Vietnam War, from the gung-ho first lieutenants to the Canadian refugees. I'm willing to give Bush amnesty, too, but I wish he would at first own up to what really happened during his mysterious military career.
After all, if anybody seriously challenged my military record, I know exactly how I would respond: I would ask the Department of Defense to release every scrap of information in my military record; I would dig up whatever documents I still have in my possession; I would scrape together the names of buddies I served with who could vouch for where I was and what I did. In short, I would be able to account for virtually every day I spent in uniform.
I was neither a brave nor a happy soldier, but I served honorably and have nothing to fear from whatever scrutiny anyone might wish to bring to bear on the issue. Why doesn't Bush feel the same way?

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