Dartboard

Where the editors weekly slip into the third person and land just off the bullseye

Bush’s Wartime Memento

With the perfect mix of evidence and ambiguity, President Bush seems again to have temporarily assuaged concerns about his questionable affiliation with the National Guard in the early 1970s. According to Bush and his cohorts, the president fulfilled his duty with the utmost of diligence—cashing in on 82 full days of service during the Vietnam War. Apparently, as some decades-old microfiche files recently released by the White House reveal, Bush received pay for a not-quite-protracted stint of nearly three whole months of honorable service. These long days weren’t served in succession—they were peppered with various hiatuses.

What, exactly, does this record prove beyond an unimpressive attention span? Dartboard doesn’t want to sound skeptical of our fair leader, but even White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan couldn’t bring himself to provide many details on Bush’s actual service, just the dusty records thereof. “These documents show the days on which he was paid,” McClellan underwhelmingly said in a statement. “That’s what they show.” Given this half-hearted declaration, Dartboard is not quite naïve enough to ignore Bush’s old commanding officer, Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, who doesn’t remember him really turning up.

Of course, the current doubts about Bush’s military background are nothing new. His attendance record has been the topic of much musing each time he’s been up for election—either while campaigning for governor in Dartboard’s home state or during the pilfered presidential race of 2000—yet each time he’s walked away virtually unscathed by attempts to defile his résumé. However, increasingly intense pressure from Democrats still in the running (read: Sen. John F. Kerry, D-Mass., the war hero) has brought up the same unresolved questions about the president’s war credentials.

As the New York Times suggested recently, the Democrats have seized upon the issue with considerable hostility. But Dartboard must admit that she feels these attempts are in vain. The president has already attested that he “does recall showing up and performing his duties,” in McClellan’s words, and the press secretary suggested that all the others who can’t recall Bush’s presence in 1972 might be suffering from a collective attack of amnesia. “We’re talking about 30 years ago,” McClellan said to rebut pesky questioners wondering why the president’s supposed comrades had completely forgotten him. It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic. Dartboard won’t mention what debauched activities from Bush’s younger years might have worked to cloud his memory.

—MORGAN R. GRICE