The President’s military records are getting big news this week, because of what they contain and what some say they don’t. Did George W. Bush serve all of the time he was supposed to, or did he get paid for service he didn’t render?
The military granted him an honorable discharge; one might think that would answer the question. His critics say that there is reason to believe he wasn’t really there when he said he was…and that the whole thing was swept under the rug. There’s talk of a special favor when Mr. Bush was the governor of Texas that removed anything potentially embarrassing from his file. A report of an alleged 1972 cocaine arrest has his opponents asking questions. Democrats comdemn the White House for not being able to provide someone who can verify his whereabouts for the length of his service. Republicans condemn the Democrats for expecting something so ridiculous. And when a fellow serviceman appeared out of no where to vouch for Bush’s presence at TANG, both sides began picking his story apart, wondering about discrepancies in the timeline. It goes on and on. But I keep coming back to this:
The military granted him an honorable discharge.
Allow me to switch channels for a moment…let’s switch to a completely different subject matter and set of characters for the sake of conversation. Let’s say that a private citizen commits a crime. Suppose it is a crime that could potentially earn jail time. But let’s suppose that said citizen agrees to working community service in exchange for having the event be excluded from his record. Said citizen accepts the offer, grateful for the opportunity to keep his name clear and right a wrong.
Is this fair? Perhaps, perhaps not. Does it happen? Sure. Is the citizen to blame for taking advantage of it? Certainly not. If you’re looking to blame someone, blame the legal system that would allow certain people to get favorable treatment over others. If you were in the same situation, and you were given that option, would you say, “No, your Honor…I’d like to be punished to the full extent of the law?” Somehow, for most of us, I doubt it.
Back to the original thought: suppose that the allegations — clearly political motivated at this point whether true or not — are true, and that the President’s records have been “cleaned up.” If the military gave Bush an honorable discharge, is Bush to blame for that?