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Saturday, August 28, 2004

"With a little help from my friends..."

Being a pilot is not easy. I know,- I tried it. And that is why I am in disagreement with many detractors of George W Bush who claim that his service in the Texas Air National Guard amounted to nothing other than drinking with his buddies. That sort of activity was likely part of the picture, but our current President actually did fly fighter jets, and that is a difficult and dangerous job.

As I have said before, what rubs me a wrong way about Bush's service is that, having received millions of dollars worth of pilot training, he failed to fly the sorties expected of him. Unlike some, I do not consider him a coward, and unlike many, I do not view personal courage as the main qualifier for one's aptitude to be President.

It was also widely speculated that Bush got into the Guard through family connections. According to this Salon article, that is no longer a mere speculation.
In a video originally posted on the Web by a pro-Kerry organization in Austin, Texas, Ben Barnes, a former lieutenant governor of Texas, apologized for his role in getting a young George W. Bush into the Texas Air National Guard while young men who were not from prominent or wealthy families "died in Vietnam."

"Let's talk a minute about John Kerry and George Bush, and I know them both," said Barnes in the video, which was filmed at a gathering of about 200 Kerry supporters in Austin on May 27. "I got a young man named George W. Bush into the Texas National Guard when I was lieutenant governor, and I'm not necessarily proud of that. But I did it. I got a lot of other people in the National Guard because I thought that was what people should do when you're in office, and you help a lot of rich people."
So according to Mr Barnes, he helped a number of privilleged young men to enter the National Guard for the express purpose of avoiding deployment to the frontlines of Vietnam. That, as Mr Barnes courageously admits now, is indeed not something one should be proud of. However, those avoiding a war like Vietnam are not necessarily to be faulted for that, in my opinion. That was not a war whose benefits to the US security were obvious, and thus a man avoiding a war like that was not necessarily acting unpatriotically.

However, a man avoiding a war he supports can hardly be viewed as a highly moral character. And that appears to have been the case with the man who some years later became President. Whatever your political affiliation happens to be,- I think that if you are a US citizen, these are facts you need to think of long and hard before the upcoming Presidential Election this Fall.

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