Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MORE FROM THE MEMPHIS FLYER....Who would have guessed that the weekly Memphis Flyer would keep breaking new ground in the National Guard story? Last week Flyer senior editor Jackson Baker wrote about two pilots in George Bush's Alabama unit who had no recollection of ever seeing him there, and on Monday he was back with an update.

It turns out that both of his original sources knew John "Bill" Calhoun, the guy who claims Bush really did show up at Dannelly Air Base in 1972 and that he spent his time in Calhoun's office reading magazines. I think you could say they're skeptical about Calhoun's story:

Im not saying it wasnt possible, but I cant imagine Bill not introducing him around, Mintz said. Unless he [Bush] was an introvert back then, which I dont think he was, hed have spent some time out in the mainstream, in the dining hall or wherever. Hed have spent some time with us. Unless he was trying to avoid publicity. But he wasnt well known at all then. It all seems a bit unusual.

Bishop was even more explicit. Im glad he [Calhoun] remembered being with Lt. Bush and Lt. Bushs eating sandwiches and looking at manuals. It seems a little strange that one man saw an individual, and all the rest of them did not. Because it was such a small organization. Usually, we all had lunch together.

Usually, we all had lunch together. Yes, that makes sense, doesn't it? Bush really doesn't seem like the studious wallflower type, does he?

Another former member of the unit, Wayne Rambo, also has some questions about the 15 "gratuitous" points that Bush supposedly got credited with on his retirement summary. Those 15 points were indeed routine, he says, but only if you otherwise met the normal requirements for a year:

The 50-point minimum has always been taken very seriously, especially for pilots, says Rambo. The reason is that it takes a lot of taxpayer money to train a pilot, and you dont want to see it wasted.

For whatever reason, the elusive Lt. George W. Bush was awarded 41 actual points for his service in both Texas and Alabama during 1972 though he apparently was given 15 gratuitous points -- presumably by his original Texas command -- enough to bring him up from substandard. That would have been a decided violation of the norm, according to Rambo, who stresses that the awarding of gratuitous points was clearly meant only as a reward to reservists for meeting their bottom line

You had to get to 50 to get the gratuitous points, which applied toward your retirement benefits, the former chief administrative officer recalls. If you were 49, you stayed at 49; if you were 50, you got up to 65.

If Rambo is right, Bush didn't meet the 50 point minimum i.e., "fulfull his obligation" in either of his final two years. He only made it by adding in his gratuitous points, and Rambo says that shouldn't have happened unless special favors were being done.

But then, it wouldn't have been the first time, would it?

Kevin Drum 10:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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