White House has a tacit tradition, going back
to the days of the Roosevelt administration, of
releasing news that they think will have negative
political repercussions on Fridays, preferably
in the afternoon. The reason for this is that
Saturday's newspaper is the one least read. By
releasing a news story at a time when most people
are packing for a weekend ski trip, or spending
a day working in the yard, or other forms of recreation,
the exposure the story gets is minimized.
it was that the administration released George
W. Putsch's military records at 5:25 on a Friday
afternoon, just 24 hours after refusing to commit
to a release of the medical records any time soon.
first, everyone thought it was just another incredibly
blatant and bare-faced lie from an administration
that has made an art form, not to mention a national
policy, of blatant and bare-faced lies.
course, the administration simply wanted to defuse
the anticipation, and perhaps catch the press,
and the public, by surprise. One of the more interesting
elements of the release was that reporters were
allowed to spend all of 20 minutes looking over
the one copy of Putsch's medical records that
the White House had, and could not make copies
or remove the original. Supposely it was to "protect
the President's privacy," although they made a
big production of his uniformly excellent medical
odd thing is that despite the games the admin
played, the files contained no "smoking gun."
There was nothing that showed he was NOT in Alabama
course, the problem was that the files showed
nothing to indicate that he WAS in Alabama during
that last year. And the military isn't exactly
noted for its slap-dash and feckless attitude
towards record-keeping. Everything has a form,
and all the forms are in triplicate, and there
were more people pounding away on typewriters
than there were people carrying guns in 1973.
Clackity clack, clackity clack. Even the latrine
toilet paper is in triplicate.
should have been dozens of documents showing that
Putsch was billeted, authorized to use the mess
and other facilities, training session attendance
and completion, drills performed, hup two three
nothing, save documents the White House produced
on Wednesday showing that he went to the dentist
on January 6th, 1973 in Alabama. This demonstrated
two things: that he kept a dental appointment
in Alabama on 1/6/73, and that 2) he had teeth.
the questions continue to build. These same questions
have dogged him in every campaign he's been in
(all four of them), but in the previous three,
it didn't matter that much. It was well known
that the National Guard had soft billets for what
then were called "Fortunate Sons:" scions of the
rich and powerful who wanted military service
on their resumes but didn't want to risk actually
getting shot at. Putsch, son of a rich and influential
Congressman and grandson of a rich and influential
grandfather and a New England blueblood, had strings
pulled, and landed ahead of 500 more qualified
candidates in a squadron devoted to teaching the
rich and useless how to fly planes that were obsolete
and would never see combat. (The Air Force had
retired the F-102 from active service several
years before Putsch joined, and since that was
the ONLY plane he learned to fly, it meant that
as a pilot, he would never be sent into a war
that was the sort of crap that went on back then,
and it was one of the reasons why people eventually
came to hate that miserable little war and the
system in general with such passion. Putsch's
role in it was contemptible, but it was 30 some
years ago, and it's not like he killed someone.
At least, not directly.
now he's started two wars, and neither of them
is going very well, and he strutted around, Mussolini-like,
in the flight suit in a contrived and expensive
photo-op, and declared himself to be a "war president,"
and suddenly people want to know more about this
man whose attitude toward killing lots of people
and lying to the public about it is as cavalier
and feckless as his attitude toward looting the
national treasury on behalf of his corporate buddies.
think I've solved the mystery of the last year.
where he was, exactly, but why he dropped off
the radar so suddenly.
evaluations during the first four years are surprisingly
good. He is deemed good leadership material, exercising
good judgment, enthusiastic about flying (he was
even seriously considering making it a permanent
career), and competent and reliable.
sound much like the stumbling, thin-skinned, arrogant,
incoherent bozo we have now, does it?
he lost interest in flying. The White House claims
that when he transferred to Alabama he didn't
bother to take his physical because he knew he
wouldn't be flying anyway. A good a reason as
any to ignore a direct order, obviously.
wasn't this the mature, responsible guy with the
great aptitude and sound leadership judgement,
the one who was thinking of making flying his
why did he supposedly go to Alabama? To get a
truly mediocre party hack, one William Blount,
elected to the Senate. And Blount was a hack.
He was Nixon's Postmaster General. You just don't
get hackier than being the P-G for a corrupt administration.
And the election was a lost cause: the great realignment
in the south was just getting started, and most
of the bigots and bully boys all still voted Democrat.
Alabama wasn't going to elect any Republican,
not even Jesus Christ, to the Senate in 1974.
And they didn't.
if he went to Alabama at all (beyond getting his
teeth seen to), the rationale sounds like a ploy
to get a potential embarrassment out of sight
as quickly as possible. (There's some evidence
that suggests that he was actually reassigned
to ARF, or Air Reserve Force, an outfit based
in Colorado. It was an "odd squad" a place where
the National Guards sent their screwups, often
as a step before shipping them off to Vietnam
where they could reflect on their sins at leisure.
There's only slightly more evidence that he was
there rather than Alabama in the form of one payroll
sheet with "ARF" at the top. And weak evidence
is weak evidence, so I'm inclined to take it with
a grain of salt).
you have a promising officer who suddenly loses
interest in what he's doing, and one way or another,
gets shunted off into a nook where he isn't going
to be conspicuous. After vanishing for about 14
months, he's suddenly issued an honorable discharge,
six months early. Not the sort of thing you expect
to see, especially when the officer is a scion
in one of the richest and most powerful families
think this is the time in George's life where
either his alcoholism really started to get out
of control, or he got his coke problem. This whole
story has all the earmarks of the military trying
to deal with a celeb who has fallen off the wagon
hard, and they are trying to cover his ass.
would explain the reticence in sharing his medical
records from that time, and it would explain the
sudden abandonment of his career and his being
shunted off to either political make-work or military
also explains the claims by Lt. Col. Bill Burkett,
Rtd., that Bush people leaned on the NG to have
his records scrubbed of embarrassing information.
It seems pretty likely that whatever happened
in the spring of 1972, it would cause the dry
drunk in the White House today considerable embarrassment.
story has finally broken out after being an issue
on the edge for the past ten years. Paul Krugman,
the brilliant columnist for the NY Times, observed
last week that the scandal, while not massive
in and of itself, was a massive threat to the
administration, which had carefully crafted a
"cult of personality" to make Putsch look competent,
able, and unbeatable, and that without that series
of stage props, there wasn't even a man behind
could destroy the Putsch junta.
Posted: February 16, 2004