From the AP, via the New York Times: Pentagon: Bush Military Records Destroyed.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. It certainly sounds fishy. The Bush people have clearly been doing their best to sweep this whole Guard-duty thing under the rug, with accounts of people having “scrubbed” his records, the as-yet-inadequately-answered question (for me, at least) of why he skipped his flight-line physical, and the overall question of whether Bush was or wasn’t the beneficiary of string-pulling designed to trade daddy’s political influence for a cushy spot Stateside to protect young W from the draft.
So, yeah, Bush and Co. (which probably includes senior leadership at the Pentagon) are completely non-credible on anything having to do with this. I think, given their history, a presumption of guilt is warranted when something as ridiculous-sounding as this crops up. It’s reminiscent, in that sense, of the Justice Departement’s “we can’t comply with your FOIA request, because doing so might crash our computers” excuse from last month (see Creative excuse to deny FOIA request).
But just because the people offering the excuse have demonstrated a willingness to lie shamelessly, and just because this particular assertion sounds particularly stupid, at least in the form of a 10-second sound-bite, doesn’t mean it isn’t actually, improbably, true.
It’s like Clinton’s “didn’t inhale” line. As I’ve said before, I think he was probably telling the pure, unspun truth when he said that. But it made such a delicious symbol of dishonesty that his opponents couldn’t resist making it a centerpiece of their arguments against him.
I’m a sucker for the argument that cuts the other way: If Bush is such a shameless liar, why wouldn’t he come up with something that sounds better than this?
Anyway, it’s trivia. The White House strategy has succeeded in that respect, at least: even an avowed anti-Bushista like me can no longer summon the energy required to care much either way. So yeah, okay; the records of Bush’s glorious patriotic service in the Vietnam War were destroyed in a tragic baking accident. Whatever.