Flight Suit Memories
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By KellyMc - Last updated: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - Save & Share - 8 Comments

Follow me on this one, it’s kind of a journalism school thesis…

I think the GWB action figure is awesome.

Prompted by the hype that the GWB action figure has gotten over the past couple of days, I seem to have seen more talk of Bush’s spotty military service record than I have in months.


Unforunately, that “more talk” consists of the “AWOL Bush” action figure parody and a couple of posts on this here site.

But after some playing with the buzz-o-meter, I wonder if it’s not a more widespread response:

(Caveat… The buzz-o-meter measures the blog-space, not the real world and its media, although I think blogs probably have a statistical bearing on what the population as a whole is thinking about.)

If it is, I’m prepared to call the Bush Action figure a good thing, and here’s why.

It’s one of two ways that the flight suit image would get back into the media. The other is via direct action of the administration, as many expect to see at some point in the campaign. In that case, however, the administration would be in control of the context of the images and it would probably happen in concert with some other newsworthy event. In that situation, nobody is going to dredge up the dead (though I’m not sure why it is) subject of Bush’s military record.

The GWB doll on the other hand is not coming from the administration and has a life of its own. The fact that this company, which also makes dolls of actual military heroes, is making a doll of a sitting president dressed up like a fighter pilot is somewhat of an absurdity. It raises the question “Why would there be a GWB fighter pilot doll?”

And to answer that, you have to take another look at how he became a fighter pilot in the first place.

(I’ll be holding my breath now until Charlie Rose does a segment on this.)

Posted in Rants • • Top Of Page

8 Responses to “Flight Suit Memories”

Comment from etrigan
Time August 13, 2003 at 5:48 am

Leave it to Kelly to point out the obvious and make me feel silly for being upset. If the flack over this could peak at Christmas, it would be awesome. I think it’ll die down before then. If not, maybe the GOP can send letters to the media outlets “encouraging” them not to say anything else.

Comment from Jank
Time August 13, 2003 at 7:10 am

One of the recurrent themes in America is ‘Redemption.’ The idea that someone with a troubled past can do great things in the present. This is what I never got about Clinton, and what I think y’all are missing with GWB. Intent here is not to provoke arguments about this or that specific, but just lay out why I think the difference in perception exists.

The reason the right is willing to give Bush and Cheney a pass is A) they made efforts to at least meet the spirit of the law, and B) Statements and actions towards servicemembers later in life show respect.

Yes, GWB may have skipped out on the last 48 days (12 months of 2 days drilling) of his Nat’l Guard service, but he showed up for the first 4 years (Wow, that’s quality spin. Have to send that one to Rove). Yep, he sent troops to fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, but at least he’s letting them do something so we don’t spend another decade ‘shooting Tomahawks up camel’s butts’ and ‘blowing up $10 tents with million dollar missiles’. The speech on the ABE went over extremely well with the folks I know on the crew. GWB’s happy to be the CinC, and soldiers and sailors love to show off for the boss.

Clinton, OTOH, didn’t get a pass from the military since he never really made a good excuse for ditching his ROTC obligation to go over to Oxford and smoke out. Sorry, ‘not inhale’ (Which also doesn’t play well with military types, most of whom have waivers in their service jackets for inhaling prior to coming into service. In service – nope, lots of drug testing and automatic boots if you pop positive). If WJC had at least gone through the motions of continuing to get deferments like DC instead of writing the letter explaining why he had feigned an interest in ROTC in order to “maintain my political viability within the system.”

(In all honesty, WJC’s letter is pretty good, and provides some thoughts to chew on, like this “No government really rooted in limited, parliamentary democracy should have the power to make its citizens fight and kill and die in a war they may oppose”, which is the best argument for an all volunteer army that I’ve heard in a while)

It was also incomprehensible to folks on the right why Women’s Rights groups continued to support WJC, especially after credible accounts of potential sexual harassment arose.

Comment from KellyMc
Time August 13, 2003 at 8:08 am

I think redemption is a good thing, and probably deserved in this case, but a lot of us feel that the National Guard thing never even got a basic public airing.

Clinton offered his Vietnam excuse, people bitched about it for months, and it went away. I don’t recall GWB ever giving any explanation of his AWOLness. Even if he had said “I was young and stupid and stayed at home watching TV instead of reporting for duty. I’m sorry.” I would be fine with the subject being dropped. (certainly I would prefer he had also dropped out of the race :))

It’s another example of GWB’s amazing ability to steer the public discourse — he acts like there’s no reason at all he should have to explain his record, and the public/media goes along with it.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 13, 2003 at 9:55 am

This is GWB’s continuing theme that disturbs me more than anything else. He has never done anything wrong. Everything happened in the past and is no longer an issue. Cocaine use, Jumping the line to become a pilot, AWOL for the National Guard, State of the Union address — they all are things we should stop asking about because he can’t accept personal responsibility for them.

The two things I most respect in the GOP philosophy have been ignored by this administration: personal responsibility and less government.

Comment from jank
Time August 13, 2003 at 10:49 am

“The two things I most respect in the GOP philosophy have been ignored by this administration: personal responsibility and less government.”

Hear, Hear…

Comment from etrigan
Time August 13, 2003 at 4:13 pm

This may be somewhat OT for this post, but it’s the closest Bush post (and I really don’t feel like starting a new one just for this.)

…The law that provided for special counsels has expired. President Bush’s fellow Republicans control both houses of Congress. The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has stepped back from challenging the White House after losing a court case that sought to open the records of Vice President Cheney’s energy task force. The result: The White House is better able to control information and prevent a nagging controversy from becoming a full-blown crisis. It’s harder for Democrats to demand answers and easier for administration officials to dismiss their charges as political posturing. And Bush faces less of the daily barrage that prompted President Clinton to set up a parallel press operation…

It’s nice to have a level playing field.

But maybe it’s not so OT.

“The American people want us to be forward-looking and want us to work together to get things done, not to continue to settle political scores from the past or score political points”

Yes, things far in the past like

the no-bid contract awarded to Halliburton, Cheney’s former company, to rebuild oilfields in Iraq

But White House spokesman Scott McClellan says Bush has delivered on his campaign promise to “change the tone” in Washington.

Comment from etrigan
Time August 13, 2003 at 4:18 pm

oh! This supports my plan for a “Registered Independent” ground swell.

To some extent, partisans in both parties have switched sides. Democrats like Waxman who decried investigations of the Clinton administration now express frustration about lacking the tools to get answers from the Bush administration. Republicans like DeLay who defended the Clinton-era inquiries now dismiss proposed investigations as political grandstanding.

Comment from jank
Time August 13, 2003 at 5:22 pm

Another tool which would come in useful about now that’s been cast by the wayside would be term limits…

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