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More (or Less) Character

July 29th, 2003

In order to know a person, you have to look at their defining moments, not their publicity or their hype. Here is another glance at the life of George W. Bush. The idea here is to get a true glimpse of his character; when reading, imagine you know this man, and then consider what you think of his morality, his actions, and his personality.

It is the late 60’s, and you are in college, at Yale. One of your schoolmates is a young man from a wealthy family, a frat man, a bit of a jock. His grades are far less than stellar, and the only reason he got into such a prestigious school is because his father went there–a legacy student. (Remember that Bush is opposed to quotas, yet depended on them himself.) In fact, legacy is pretty much how he got into everything at the college, including a highly secretive organization called “Skull and Bones.” He is so unimpressive as a student that one teacher, Yale History professor James Hutson, years later, is amazed to hear that Bush had been in one of his seminars, which only had 15 students.

While at school, he is often drunk and rowdy–not too far off the mark for an average low-scoring jock, but he seems to push the limit at times. He is arrested twice–once for helping pull down the goal posts at a football game, and again when he steals a Christmas wreath off a department store window. One evening you see him so inebriated, he lays down in the middle of the street and then literally rolls himself all the way back to his dorm.

As a frat man, his attitudes are not exactly glowing. In an interview with the New York Times, he defends the practice of taking a red-hot coat hanger and using it to “brand” pledges, young men who desperately want to gain entrance. He says that such painful mutilation is acceptable because it was no worse than “only a cigarette burn.” (It is not known if Bush himself bears such a scar.)

On the Vietnam War, he is so blind to what people are doing and saying that he does not notice any anti-war activity on campus, despite the fact that it is quite ubiquitous. But he is strongly in support of the war, and believes it is the right thing to do; he also feels that it is important for young American men to do their duty and go to the war.

One schoolmate, Robert Birge, tells him he was thinking about going to Canada. Bush replies, “That’s [expletive], that’s irresponsible.” According to Birge, Bush believe that young men should “back up the country and stop whining.”

Soon after that, however, on May 27, 1968, 12 days before Bush’s own college deferment runs out, he does not do the “responsible” thing. Instead, he, his family and their business associates lobby to have Bush placed in a “celebrity” unit of the Texas National Guard. Despite a year-and-a-half waiting list, Bush applies and on the same day is accepted into the 147th unit of the Texas N.G. Also in the 147th are the sons of federal and state politicians, sons of wealthy businessmen, and sons of professional sports players (by coincidence, of course). Bush scores only 25% on the piloting aptitude test, but is instantly promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, despite not going through officer candidate school. Bush is trained to fly the F-102 Delta Dagger, a plane that is slated for the scrap heap, reassuring Bush even further that he will not be called to duty in Vietnam.

Bush claims that he signed up for the NG because he wanted to fly for his country, and has repeatedly claimed he was not avoiding the draft. However, this does not explain why he did not sign up for service in the Air Force or the Navy (as his father did), nor why he actively requested not to be sent overseas while in the NG.

And Bush does not even complete his tour of duty. Apparently, he is well into his drug habit as well as being an alcoholic. When the U.S. military institutes universal drug testing to be carried out at the annual physical exam on each soldier’s birthday, Bush fails to appear. (Ironically, the Guard used his name in a press release about drug use: “George Walker Bush is one member of the younger generation who doesn’t get his kicks from pot or hashish or speed,” the release said. Make up your own “…but alcohol and cocaine, on the other hand…” joke here.) From this point on, he goes missing from his duty and continues to be absent until he asks for, and of course is granted, permission to leave the Guard early so he can go to Harvard Business School. (Here are images of documents detailing Bush’s absences from the NG post.)

What would you think if you knew someone like this? A privileged kid, family pulling strings to get him into and out of everything, admonishing others for shirking duties and then shirking his own in a far less honest way. The criminal record, the hazings, the hypocrisy. Knowing someone like this personally, would you think he would ever be capable of holding a position of great responsibility? How about being the leader of the free world?

Bush, by the way, is the first President of the United States to enter office with a criminal record. Quite a distinction. But more on his non-“youthful indiscretion” years later.


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  1. Anthony
    July 29th, 2003 at 22:00 | #1

    Dude, Bush is the best damn thing to ever happen to this country, after Lincoln and Washington, so keep your imbecilic opinions to yourself.

  2. Luis
    July 29th, 2003 at 22:07 | #2

    “Dude, Bush is the best damn thing to ever happen to this country, after Lincoln and Washington, so keep your imbecilic opinions to yourself.”

    Ah, the voice of reason.

    It’s like this every time a Bush advocate comments: a bland, straight-out condemnation of the entry, usually paired with an insult. Never any detailed refutation or specific challenging of the facts, never any evidence or discussion of same. Just a simple, uninformed refusal to deal with reality.

    This, I have little doubt, is how such a reprehensible character such as Bush is able to maintain a power base, by attracting people who don’t give a damn about facts, who don’t want to know the details, so long as their ideology is supported.

    Next only to “Lincoln and Washington”? Good lord.

  3. January 26th, 2004 at 13:27 | #3

    Yes, that’s why he is so popular with young, white
    rebel flag-toting confederate wanna-bes. Enter
    the “Southern strategy.”

    On the other hand, maybe they like Bush because they
    value death and destruction (this is believable), the
    erosion of liberty and being outright deceived.

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