Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Real Crux of Bush's TANG Story

There's one angle to the George W. Bush TANG saga that's not received any play (at least as far as I know). This angle kind of moves the story into a few other well known subplots.

In all of the background I've read over the past years regarding Bush's service, one thing always struck me -- something changed. The 60 Minutes story last Wednesday focused it in a bit, and a current story in U.S. News and World Report brought me a little clarity.

During his early days in the Texas Air National Guard, Dubya received passable, though not stellar evaluations. He wasn't at the "top of his class", but not at the bottom, either. All in all, an unremarkable weekend warrior pilot like thousands before him. No big deal.

But then, in the fourth year of his six year obligation, something changed. From US News and World Report:

Bush's records show that he did his duty for much of the first four years of his commitment. But as the Vietnam War wound down, his performance slumped, and his attendance at required drills fell off markedly. He did no drills for one five-month period in 1972. He also missed his flight physical. By May 2, 1973, his superiors said they could not evaluate his performance because he 'has not been observed.'
Let's rewrite this passage, and have a conversation with your son's high school guidence counsellor:

"Johnny's records show that he did his homework for much of the last four years in school. But as his years of primary education have wound down, his academic performance has fallen off markedly. He's done no homework for the past five months. He's also missed a lot of school. This semester, his teachers said they could not grade his academic performance because he's been absent so much."
What's changed? What's your first thought on why Johnny is suddenly failing at school?

Every parent in America can answer to this question. It's been drilled into us for at least the last 20 years.

That's where the real story of Dubya's TANG service lies (pun intended).