Not sure who saw this exchange on the McLaughlin group the other day. I just caught it on the replay Sunday night.
Issue three: Bush Unguarded.This ran on Saturday, after the scandal broke. It goes downhill from here.
BEN BARNES (FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF TEXAS): (From videotape.) I would describe it as preferential treatment. There were hundreds of names on the list of people wanting to get in the Air National Guard.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Former Texas Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House Ben Barnes, a Democrat, this week told "60 Minutes" that he pulled strings to get George Bush into the Texas Air National Guard just after Bush graduated from Yale and faced the Vietnam War draft. Barnes says the request for preferential treatment came from a Bush family friend, the now-deceased oil man, Sid Adger.
The White House struck back.
WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR DAN BARTLETT: (From videotape.) I chalk it up to politics. 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.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Barnes is a fund-raiser for John Kerry. Besides this Barnes account, new documents obtained by "60 Minutes" show further detailed preferential treatment for Lieutenant Bush, and also identify the reasons why his squadron commander ordered Lieutenant Bush to stop flying. Quote: "Failure to perform to U.S. Air Force Texas Air National Guard standards and failure to meet annual physical examination as ordered," unquote.
Speculation now rages in press circles as to why that physical exam failure occurred. Some questions have been raised about the authenticity of the new documents about Bush's service in the National Guard. Dan Rather says CBS sticks by its report. The chairman of the DNC, Terry McAuliffe, agrees with Rather. Quote: "These new documents show that the president did not serve honorably."
Question: Did George Bush use the National Guard to dodge military service in Vietnam? Eleanor Clift.Newsweek's Eleanore Clift, a more clueless twit you'd be hard to find. Please, tell me whats taken so long to come out. That Bush didn't serve in Vietnam? Or that rich and well connected people served in the National Guard instead of Vietnam?
MS. CLIFT: It was a well-known haven during Vietnam to avoid going into combat. And it was peopled by the sons of the rich and the well-connected. And George W. Bush wasn't the only one. But for the last three decades, the Bush campaigns and the Bush family have covered up the various records.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Has any --
MS. CLIFT: And that's been amazing that it has taken so long for this to come out.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, before this election is over, will Bush rue the day that he refused to condemn the Swift Boat Veteran ad, yes or no, meaning that he apparently has unleashed a counterattack that may have even more serious consequences?He cut Tony Blankley off and clearly didn't want ANYONE discussing the memo's, ahem, questionable provenance. If you can catch a copy of the video, this exchange is incredible. His willful blindness became even more apparant just a moment later. (Of course, I need to add that Clift is seriously deranged if she thinks these questionable memos created any doubts about Bush's background.
MR. BUCHANAN: John, look, if the president wins this election, the Swift Boaters will have won it for him, plus the convention. The National Guard issue is going nowhere, except it's going to be real trouble for Dan Rather.
MR. BLANKLEY: The National Guard --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Quickly. Quickly, Eleanor. Will they rue the day, yes or no?
MS. CLIFT: Yes, they will. It's created doubts about his background.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes or no?Either John McLaughin was seriously uninformed going into this broadcast, or he has major problems with reality. He was determined to not let questions about the documents credibility be raised and wanted his panelists to indict Bush based wholly on these false charges. Despicable.
MR. BLANKLEY: No. The Washington Post on Friday reported that all their experts believe these documents are false.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I know about the report. But it's far from settled.
MR. BLANKLEY: And --
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: They're going to get a sample of the handwriting from the contemporaneous time. Quickly, what's the answer?
MR. BLANKLEY: And Ben Barnes went on TV --
MR. O'DONNELL: Yes, the war-making president did everything he could to avoid personally being involved in a war. But he will not regret what the Swift Boat ads have done to John Kerry.
MR. MCLAUGHLIN: I agree with the collective sentiment.
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