CommunityPam's House Blend

The Dan Rather interview with Ben Barnes, the man who pulled the strings to get Shrub in the TX Air Natl Guard just aired. It was a fair interview, declaring Barnes is a Kerry supporter, and brings on White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett to lamely defend the mountain of charges.

What has never surfaced before, reports CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, are four documents from the personal files of Col. Jerry Killian, Mr. Bush’s squadron commander. They could help answer lingering questions on whether Lt. Bush received special consideration during his military service.

The first memo is a direct order to take “an annual physical examination” – a requirement for all pilots.

Another memo refers to a phone call from the lieutenant in which he and his commander “discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November.” And that due to other commitments “he may not have time.”

On August 1, 1972, Col. Killian grounded Lt. Bush for failure to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards and for failure to take his annual physical as ordered.

A year after Lt. Bush’s suspension from flying, Killian was asked to write another assessment.

Killian’s memo, titled ‘CYA’ reads he is being pressured by higher-ups to give the young pilot a favorable yearly evaluation; to, in effect, sugarcoat his review. He refuses, saying, “I’m having trouble running interference and doing my job.”

Thirty-one years later, supporters of now-President Bush have been critical of opponent John Kerry’s Vietnam record. Now it’s the president’s turn to answer tough questions about his own service.

It was just what the White House had hoped to avoid – a new examination of the president’s military record just as he seeks to reinforce his credentials as a wartime leader. And Republican officials wasted no time taking dead aim at Ben Barnes’ claim that he pulled strings to get George W. Bush into the National Guard, reports CBS News Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts.

“I chalk it up to politics,” said White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. “They play dirty down in Texas. I’ve been there. I see how it works. But the bottom line is that there is no truth to this.”

Asked if this is dirty politics, Bartlett replied, “Oh, I think it is.”

A big fat W — for whatever.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding