Saturday, August 21, 2004

How Much is That Bobo in the Window?

"I don't want to play like I was somebody out there marching when I wasn't. It was either Canada or the service. ... Somebody said the Guard was looking for pilots. All I know is, there weren't that many people trying to be pilots."
- Governor Bobo in 1998

"I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment. Nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
- Another Revelation from Bobo, 1990

"I'm saying to myself, 'What do I want to do?' I think I don't want to be an infantry guy as a private in Vietnam. What I do decide to want to do is learn to fly."
- More Bobo in 1989

This should provide aid and comfort to the forces in Najaf. We always knew that Bobo was a corrupt little demogogue with half a brain and little common sense. But now we know that he's a paper tiger and a vile thug with deeper pockets than Uday and Qusay. That means Bobo and Jeb can buy media time and the Florida recount to confuse the masses; Uday and Qusay did it with electricity, cattle prods and the secret police.

Certainly much has been made of the Kerry War record, and for all its sensationalism it is equally clear that the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign is nothing less than a smear campaign for the Bobo re-election effort. So let's just say that there is no "direct" involvement with the Administration ... perhaps, but the proximity of the players involved leads one to speculate that it obviously shares the same DNA. The same biological evidence surrounding McCain and Cleland and now Big John.

But what about Bobo? He's got an interesting military record as well, so maybe there's an "Unfit for Command" in store for the Fearful Leader. In 1968, Bobo graduates from Yale and joins Texas Air National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War, when there were long waiting lists to get into a Guard or Reserve unit. Bobo's unit, dubbed the Champagne Unit, included the sons of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Gov. John Connally, as well as several members of the Dallas Cowboys.

Aug. 25, 1968 - Completes basic training in San Antonio and is promoted to second lieutenant.

1969 - Graduates from flight school at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., as pilot trainee.

1970 - Graduates from Combat Crew Training School at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas; promoted to first lieutenant. Is trained to fly F-102 jets.

1971 - Participates in drills and alerts at Ellington. Begins work for Houston-based agricultural company. Bobo's father becomes UN ambassador.

April 1972 - Takes last flight as a Guard member.

May 15 - Leaves his Texas unit and heads for Alabama.

May 24 - Bobo seeks permission to be transferred to an Alabama Reserve postal unit so he can work on Senate campaign of family friend Winton (Red) Blount.

May 31 - Bobo's request is denied because he has been trained as a pilot and this is not an appropriate posting for him. Bobo does not return to his Texas unit.

July - Misses annual flight physical.

Sept. 5 - Gets authorization to work on the Senate campaign and also is authorized to perform some of his service in Alabama. Records indicate he was paid for six days of service in October and November. No one has vouched for seeing him there, but Bobo insists he reported for duty.

Sept. 29 - Is suspended as a pilot for failure to take annual physical.

December 1972 - Returns to Texas but is not paid by the Guard for any service that month.

Early 1973 - Is paid for six days of service in January and two days in April. Bobo's father becomes chairman of the Republican National Committee.

April 1973 - Commanding officers in Texas say they cannot evaluate his performance for the previous year because he has not been observed.

Summer 1973 - To achieve the 50 points he needs to complete his annual service, Bobo does 14 days in May, five in June and 19 in July. These are all nonflying drills and include work at an inner-city poverty program.

Sept. 18, 1973 - Arranges to leave the Guard six months early to attend Harvard Business School. A deal for early release was not unusual at the time.

Oct. 1, 1973 - Receives honorable discharge.

The sole piece of evidence that Bobo ever showed up at a National Guard base in Alabama: He went to the dentist. Once. Pay stubs show Bush on duty the weekend of May 1-3, 1973, at Ellington Air Force Base in Houston. Yet that very same weekend, on May 2, his two superior officers at Ellington signed a report saying they could not complete his annual evaluation because "Lt. [Bobo] has not been observed at this unit during the period of report." Then he used his father's connections to get out of the Guard five months early, so he could attend Harvard Business School.

"I would like to say for the record, and also for the men sitting behind me who are also wearing the uniforms and their medals, that my sitting here is really symbolic. I am not here as John Kerry. I am here as one member of a group of 1,000, which is a small representation of a very much larger group of veterans in this country, and were it possible for all of them to sit at this table, they would be here and have the same kind of testimony. I would simply like to speak in general terms. I apologize if my statement is general because I received notification [only] yesterday that you would hear me, and, I am afraid, because of the injunction I was up most of the night and haven't had a great deal of chance to prepare.

I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago, in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit--the emotions in the room, and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that, at times, they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam, in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term "winter soldier" is a play on words of Thomas Paine's in 1776, when he spoke of the "sunshine patriots," and "summertime soldiers" who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel, because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

I would like to talk to you a little bit about what the result is of the feelings these men carry with them after coming back from Vietnam. The country doesn't know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history; men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped."

We still don't know what Bobo did, which means he did nothing at all ... except drink and sometimes drive drunk according to those who recall the young Bobo. Folks in Alabama remember him as an affable social drinker who acted younger than his 26 years. Referred to as "George Bush, Jr." by newspapers in those days, sources say he also tended to show up late every day, around noon or one, at Blount's campaign headquarters in Montgomery. They say Bobo would prop his cowboy boots on a desk and brag about how much he drank the night before.

Many of those who came into close contact with Bobo say he liked to drink beer and Jim Beam whiskey, and to eat fist-fulls of peanuts, and Executive burgers, at the Cloverdale Grill. There are numerous allegations of drug use. According to Cathy Donelson, a daughter of old Montgomery but one of the toughest investigative reporters to work for newspapers in Alabama over the years, the 1960s came to Old Cloverdale in the early 1970s about the time of Bobo's arrival.

"We did a lot of drugs in those days," she said. "The 1970s are a blur."

Bobo also made an impression on the "Blue-Haired Platoon," a group of older Republican Women working for Blount. Behind his back they called him "the Texas soufflé," because he was "all puffed up and full of hot air."

No wonder that he went AWOL; Bobo was having too good of a time drinking and carousing. Until the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, Bobo got a free pass on Vietnam, but not now. Big John not only went when he could have cut and run, but also came back to seek the truth.

The thing speaks for itself.


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